My brother was diagnosed with brain cancer exactly two years ago today: November 4, 2014. For those who follow politics, that was Election Day — a clear Tuesday here in the suburbs of New York. Autumn had given us one of those perfectly crisp mornings you were sure would open up to a beautiful afternoon. It seemed a rare gift: After all, I was off from work that day. (Ah, freedom can be so sweet — sweetest when it’s taken from you.) My plans were to vote in the late morning, have a relaxing lunch, then spend the rest of the afternoon at the mall.
Of course, my best laid plans went awry somewhere around 11 a.m. My mother called to tell me that Matt had collapsed in his house before going to work. The headaches that had plagued him for several weeks had grown more severe. An ambulance took him to a local hospital, where scans revealed a large tumor that lay deep inside his brain.
Maybe one day I’ll tell you the whole story. There was no happy ending — just a protracted lurch toward this precise moment, as I sit here typing another eulogy, the latest but not the last attempt to conform to this ruthless reality. Look, I know that “everything changed” is a banality. But how else can I say it? On November 3, 2014, my family and I had a life we will never have again. It’s as though we were all abruptly evicted by a capricious repo man, and forced to sleep in the fields behind our former homes as others moved in. I am very slowly assimilating to this lonely hinterland.
UPDATE: I have cross-posted this to Medium. It’s available here.
In the November 21 issue of The Weekly Standard, I have reviewedThe Maisky Diaries, edited by Gabriel Gorodetsky. This fine volume covers the personal writings of Ivan Maisky, Soviet ambassador to the United Kingdom during the critical period of 1932 to 1943. Here’s a bit of my judgment of the man:
In the 1930s, British foreign policy was still a matter of balancing the continental powers, particularly France and Germany; and if we avoid the arrogance that hindsight can bring, we should also remember that Neville Chamberlain genuinely thought he was securing a course for peace in Europe. Britain knew how weak its armed forces were—its army, especially—and this knowledge, as Lloyd George told Maisky, was doubtless a factor in Chamberlain’s “deal” with Hitler at Munich.
Maisky, however, had nothing but contempt for such calculations, coming across at certain times here as a kind of thirties neoconservative. Indeed, it’s hard at times to discern that Maisky was a Communist at all, or that he represented a brutal, totalitarian government. His comportment in these pages is measured; his language free of cant. Even his looks—the well-fed, portly body, the kindly eyes, the authentic smile—will strike the reader as very different from the dour, self-defensive faces of that era’s most prominent Soviets.
Last week, at The Catholic Herald, I analyzed Trump’s Midwestern victory more closely:
In the northeast and midwest, Trump won because he performed well in important counties that Mitt Romney, the previous Republican presidential nominee, had lost. Republicans turned out for Trump in the suburbs and rural towns of these states, creating long lines at many of the polls. Together with a poor Democratic turnout for Hillary Clinton and help from many Democratic cross-over voters in these areas, Trump achieved his upset victory.
At The Catholic Herald, I write about how Donald Trump won by appealing to middle-class voters in the Midwest:
Many are of these voters are registered Democrats. They tend to be moderate – usually left of centre on economics but often socially and culturally conservative. There’s no room for them in the modish party of 2016. Journalists and politicians acquire no social status by writing about their troubles. These men and women are openly mocked and ridiculed by the centres of cultural power in America: the media, the universities, and the entertainment industry. They’re milked for votes and tax dollars and then told they’re too “privileged” to have any legitimate grievances.
In the past, they rallied around Ronald Reagan – the famous “Reagan Democrats.” Later many coalesced around insurgent candidates like Ross Perot or Pat Buchanan. Now many simply stay home and don’t vote. But many also voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 – one of the perplexing details for journalists who believe racial animus explains everything.
In case you missed it, Mike Pence’s dog died a few weeks ago, and here’s how the malicious imps at Jezebel headlined their piece:
An October Surprise for Mike Pence’s Dog: Death
The blog post, to which I refuse to link, leads with this sentence: “Tragedy has befallen the Trump-Pence campaign, which was already struggling, and it comes in the form of that tiny, pup-sized grim reaper who comes for all doggies eventually.”
A picture of Pence and his wife smiling with their dog follows.
As you can see, Jezebel is lower than rat droppings on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike. This kind of “journalism” is sadly common. In the last, say, ten years, we’ve seen the rise of what I call Teenage Journalism. This phenomenon is not limited to the United States. I’ve also noticed it in British journalism, an industry with which I’m thoroughly familiar and in which I currently work — though it’s not nearly as acute over in Blighty.