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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Paul Ryan and the Heartbreak of Divorce


The news wires have been abuzz the last few days with talk of Paul Ryan, and Friday night some commentator on CNN was adamant that he was never “going to happen.” Saturday morning: Pow! Ryan is Romney’s VP choice.

 Whenever a VP candidate is named, people start making comparisons to past candidates. I’m going to go out on a limb and compare him to Frank Knox, the 1936 VP candidate under Alf Landon. This was in a race against FDR while our country was at the height of the Great Depression. Like Obama, FDR was popular even if his policies weren’t. The wealthiest part of the electorate hated the New Deal, and despite the fact that the stock market was rising while taxes weren’t, they called him “Franklin Deficit Roosevelt” and said that his desire to help the poor would end civilization as we know it.

FDR’s biggest adversary was William Randolph Hearst, who published stories saying that the New Deal was akin to communism, and reelecting the president would be letting the Soviets run the government. So obviously playing on peoples’ xenophobia and jingoism is nothing new, and it always makes me laugh when pundits declare that “this year is the most negative campaign ever.”

So what about Alf Landon and Frank Knox? Alf Landon was fairly mild and never able to inspire his base. Sound familiar?  Frank Knox was a tougher opponent to Roosevelt than Landon was. At one point Knox was a manager of all 27 of Hearst’s newspapers. He vehemently criticized the New Deal in his editorials, even called them “alien and un-American”.

Now Republicans are hoping Ryan will inspire their base and come out swinging against Obama. He’s off to a good start; over the last few months he’s used terms like class warfare, diminished future, attacking entrepreneurs, and bitter and partisan. Ryan is more charismatic than Romney, just as Knox was more charismatic than Landon was.

Of course, we all know how the 1936 election turned out. Roosevelt carried nearly every state and walked away with around 60% of the vote. I’m not suggesting a similar scenario will occur in 2012, but a girl can dream.

Because as Blondie once said, dreaming is free, and if Republicans get their way nothing else in this country will be. But there are some things even I can’t blame Republicans for, and one of them is the poor rate of return on dreaming. I’m not complaining about my own life; I realize how lucky I am. But the other day my best friend/brother-in-law Jack called me with some heart-breaking news.

 Petra and I are getting a divorce,” he told me. Jack and Petra have been married for over sixteen years. They met in college, and Jack has never been in love with anyone but her.

 I held my breath for a moment, afraid I would respond in the wrong way. It wasn’t a surprise; Jack and Petra have argued for years and I can’t remember the last time they seemed happy. But like the Ryan announcement, it’s still shocking in that I didn’t really think that Jack and divorce was ever going to happen.

“Are you okay?” I asked him.

 “I’m great!” he said, enthusiasm dripping out of voice and through the phone lines. He almost sounded sincere. “It’s a relief, really. Now we can decide what to do next, for Mikey and with the restaurant, and move on with our lives. It’s a good thing, honestly.”

Petra and Jack have a son, Mikey, who is seven years old, and they own a restaurant together. But it’s Jack's restaurant, really. He runs it and built it from the ground up.

“You should talk to Monty,” I said. “Having a lawyer for a brother will actually come in handy.”

“He doesn’t know anything about divorce law.” Jack replied.

 “But he could advise you…”

 “I’m not ready to talk about the legal stuff yet. I need to process it all first, okay?”

I agreed, but I know the conversation between Jack and Monty will be all about the legal stuff. Monty will come out swinging for Jack, ready to defend his little brother and protect his interests. That’s what lawyers, older brothers, and vice presidential candidates have in common; they’re there  to do the dirty work. I just hope that in Jack’s case, it won’t be necessary.






















2 comments:

  1. Very well written post. I learned a littke political history today, and the Knox/Ryan parallel was interesting, to say the least.

    You have a new follower.

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    1. Thank you! Positive feedback always means a lot.

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