Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Build a Wall, Boycott Coke, Religious Spin

Build the Wall, Redux: Donald Trump is probably more than slightly miffed that Joe Biden’s administration has signaled support for building part of the border wall with Mexico Trump championed in both his presidential campaigns (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/dhs-alejandro-mayorkas-border-wall-b1827535.html?amp).

But it remains unclear if Trump has learned the ultimate lesson of politics—it is not what you say or stand for, but rather, how you say it. 

Put in reverse cliche form, “Shoot the messenger, not the message.”

Trump’s bellicose, offensive messaging on everything from immigration to COVID-19 response to relations with allies stymied his ability to rally most of the nation to his causes. It also didn’t help that Trump exuded self-importance, broadcasting that he alone had the answers to any challenge facing America. 

So far, Biden has been quick to give credit to the American people, social services organizations or companies for successes. Trump personalized successes and demonized those who didn’t agree with him.  

So, at least for now, wall construction will continue. For sure Biden does not want to be confronted with any more negative stories emanating from a porous border. 

Whether voters, particularly Republicans, will assign him any credit for following through on border wall construction is uncertain. But it would be helpful to his reelection if the wall did not become an opposition rallying point in 2024. 

Boycott, Shmoycott: Oy. I don’t know what to do. 

A week ago I proudly endorsed a consumer boycott of Coca-Cola and my personal resolve to abstain from drinking Diet Coke because the company failed to use its influence to stop Republicans in its home state of Georgia from passing a repressive election law. Only after the law was signed by the Republican governor did Coke publicly voice its displeasure.

That action brought an expected diatribe from the former imbiber-in-chief. Even as he was pictured with a Diet Coke on his desk, Trump called on his supporters to boycott Coke and other companies that criticized Georgia’s new law. 

So, does my antipathy for Trump outweigh my displeasure with Coke? I guess so. I’m not happy about it, but I’ve chosen the lesser of two evils.

Spinning Religion: I’ve always associated spin doctors with politicians. But after viewing some clerical commentary about the renewal powers of Easter and Passover I believe the clergy is the equal of any political spinmeister. 

Take, for example, Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s comments to Harry Smith of NBC News aired Sunday evening. The archbishop of New York said, “This is the very time of year when we are going from the bleak nature of winter, oh my god, we’re going to more light, more life, growth, hope, my god, that’s the message of Holy Week and Easter and do we ever need it.”

For sure we need more of what this time of year can bring us. But Easter is a worldwide holiday. Since the Southern Hemisphere is embarking on autumn before a winter, how does the cardinal’s comments on nature’s transition apply? 

For sure, in most places temperatures are not as extreme as they are in Northern climes, but I still find it troubling that even in religious matters we take an American-centric view.

Weather wasn’t the only problem I had with Cardinal Dolan’s oratory. 

“We can never lose our sense of hope...as for 40 years the people of Israel didn’t,” he explained to Smith.

Does the cardinal have a different version of the Old Testament than I do? My Scriptures has the Israelites constantly questioning God and Moses. They wandered in the desert for four decades because they lacked faith and hope in God.

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