Sunday, January 17, 2010

Returning Thoughts...

Apparently ten days in Israel is more than enough time to put one completely out of the news loop! Here are some quick thoughts on the major stories that have emerged since my absence:

- The Brown-Coakley Senate race: It goes without saying that Democrats can't afford to be defeated here. After coming so close to passing health care reform legislation, it would be a major symbolic as well as practical political victory for Republicans if the will of the people (to say nothing of the people of one of America's most left-wing states) deprived liberals of the crucial sixtieth senator needed to pass the Senate's health care bill. Considering that most Bay Staters have expressed a deep support for Barack Obama personally and health care reform as a whole, a defeat by Coakley would obviously be a reflection on her own shoddy candidacy, and not a referendum on the president and his agenda; nevertheless, after the defeats of Corzine in New Jersey and Deeds in Virginia (both states that went blue in 2008), Democrats simply cannot afford the PR blow that would come with a Coakley defeat here. Every political resource we have must be invested into this campaign, so that we can avert the tragedy that would come with a Brown victory.

- The Haiti Crisis: This serves as a reminder to America's critics that, whatever faults this nation may have, it is always the first to respond to a tragic catastrophe when it befalls another people - be it the earthquake in Turkey, the tsunami in southeast Asia, or the current fiasco in Haiti - and is always generous with its time and money, even during periods of history when it can ill-afford to spend either one of them (such as the one we are in right now). As far back as the days of the Marshall Plan, America has had a streak of benevolence in its foreign policy that receives very little credit among extremists on the left and right these days. Praise for America's fundamental goodness may not be the most lustruous political coin, but it certainly isn't because the facts don't warrant it.

- Super Bowl XLIV: Apparently my luck in determining which teams will appear in the Super Bowl isn't very good (see That said, my record in wagering on the eventual winner of the Super Bowl (once the two teams have been decided) is slightly better. While I erred in preferring the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII (who would have thought they could actually lose four Super Bowls in a row) and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII (come on, they'd won eighteen games in a row by that point), I was correct when I bet on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI, the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL, and the Pittsburgh Steelers again in Super Bowl XLIII. Even when you include the default wagers I placed on the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowls XXXI and XXXII (which they won and lost, respectively), I still have a slight edge in accurately foreseeing the outcomes of these contests. As such, I will refrain from venturing any further Super Bowl oraculations until the final two teams have been decided (although I can tell you that I'd like to see the New York Jets win the AFC Title, both because of my status as a New Jerseyan and because I don't want the perfection abdicating Colts to be rewarded by a Super Bowl appearance).

Of course, you no doubt want to know about my experiences in the Jewish State. More on that later.

No comments: