MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2020
Did Schaller get it right?: Long ago and far away, we knew Tom Schaller a tiny tad.
As happenstance had it, we even sat together at a press table when Al Gore testified before a congressional committee about climate change. We'll guess that it was the 2007 event described in this news report.
We mention Schaller because Charles Blow quotes him in today's column.
In our view, Blow could use some help with using his indoor voice, and with his use of key words like "some" and "all." But we agree with the Timesman concerning Schaller's assessment:
BLOW (10/26/20): The most optimistic among us see the Trump era as some sort of momentary insanity, half of the nation under the spell of a conjurer. They believe that the country can be reunited and this period forgotten.
I am not one of those people. I believe what political scientist Thomas Schaller told Bloomberg columnist Francis Wilkinson in 2018: “I think we’re at the beginning of a soft civil war.” If 2018 was the beginning of it, it is now well underway.
Like Blow, we're inclined to agree with Schaller's assessment. (Schaller has already said in a tweet that he hopes his assessment was wrong.)
We're inclined to think Schaller was right! In our view, we've long since reached the point where political parties and demographic groups turn instead into warring tribes. We differ with Blow in this regard:
We don't think that all the unhelpful tribal warfare is being conducted Over There, on the other tribe's side.
Now, a bit of disclosure:
Starting yesterday, at roughly 9 A.M., we were caught in a brutal installment of the occasional modern drama, The Flat Tire Which Can't Be Fixed and Occurs Some Distance From Home.
The bulk of the day was lost. This morning, we finally managed to arrange for a tow. For these reasons, today's report arrives a bit late, offering an overview of what we'll be discussing this week.
We've seen two recent pieces of journalism we'd especially like to discuss.
On the one hand, there's Mary Trump's well-written piece in yesterday's Washington Post. Here's what the headline says:
Psychiatrists know what’s wrong with my uncle. Let them tell voters.
Mary Trump thinks her uncle is deeply unwell. Then too, there was Hannah Natanson's recent piece, also in the Washington Post, about the very small number of black and Hispanic kids who get admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, Virginia, a high school commonly said to be "the nation's best."
In our view, Natanson's piece is interesting for the questions it doesn't ask—for the remarkable facts it doesn't discuss. Do the lives of black children matter? We're never sure how to answer that question after reading essays like this.
Speculation will be running wild over the next eight days. Pundits will be offering utterly useless predictions, and they'll keep it up day after day.
We were struck by Mary Trump's piece, and by that piece about T.J. High. Our prediction:
By tomorrow, we'll have a clearer idea of what to discuss this week.