What if America had a Jewish mother? We could do worse!
The wild dogs inside my head don't always chew up this much carpet, but I was just imagining I were America and my Jewish mother came to visit. Hugs, kisses and then quickly down to the business of Jewish motherhood.
"What's this business about so much of what Obama wants getting passed lately? I thought he got clobbered in the last election." Whereupon I would explain the facts of "lame-duck" life. "I always thought our Constitution made sense," I can hear her rage. "This is insane. If you lose the support of the people you should be out, gone, finished! And I mean, like, the next day. And what's this about Obama appointing an ambassador to Syria? I thought we didn't like Syria. That leader, Assad, is a momzer. He does whatever Iran tells him to. He's arming the ones trying to destroy Israel, and he runs Lebanon like your Uncle Morris runs his used-appliance store. Doesn't the president need the approval of the Senate?"
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Explanations of the magic of the recess-appointment and quiet agreement with the wrongness of Obama's penchant for wooing our enemies and screwing our friends merely inflames her. "OK," she proceeds. "If you know so much, tell me this. The United Nations Human Rights Council includes countries like China, Cuba, Libya, Saudi Arabia – there's more, but that's enough. Can you believe that crowd sits around a table and declares America is the bad guy? Like saying we discriminate against Muslims! Don't we have a representative there who can stand up and tell them we Americans have fought and died to save Muslims in five places since your baby brother was born? And what business do we have staying in any organization where the robbers get together and insult the cops? We ought to get out of the United Nations altogether. It's nothing but a big glass house where everybody throws stones. We should start all over and organize a UFN; a United FREE Nations. You know: England, Canada, Norway, Denmark; that kind of thing."
I lucked out. Mother's momentum reached enough of a crescendo I didn't have to admit I didn't even know the name of our U.N. ambassador. I remember Warren Austin, who told the Muslims and the Jews they should get together and settle things in a Christian-like manner (on the level!), and John Bolton who answered every diplomatic slap in the face from dictators with a kick in the teeth.
Foreign policy got a merciful rest as Mother took aim at annoyances closer to home. "Did you read where only one out of four young Americans is fit for military service? Three out of four are either too fat or too dumb or both. When you were a boy they had play period at school, and you went to the meadow and played football until dark and came home starving for a real meal. And you and all of your friends were accepted into the Army. And when Mrs. Shapiro's son was drafted and rejected by the Army, it was the talk at our bridge parties for over a month. He was the only one in our whole synagogue. And since then America got even more fitness centers than fast-food restaurants and diet books and diet foods and diet pills and diet commercials and doctors and resorts and trainers – and three out of four of our young people aren't fit to fight. They always used to say 'Food will win the war,'" she added, "but how can we get al-Qaida to eat at McDonald's?"
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Don't underestimate the power of the Jewish mother to bite into a problem, like the angry puppy who sinks his teeth all the way through the bottom of the postman's trousers and turns and twists and growls. Certainly nobody is likely to underestimate that Jewish mother who accepted her son's invitation to come to dinner with him and his up-and-up, platonic live-in female roommate. Mother found his assurances that there was no hanky-panky between the two of them a little off-putting, but she wasn't the FBI, just a Jewish mother who suspected they were both sleeping in his bed.
At dinner she went into spasms of admiration for a gold-plated ladle that stole the show from everything else on the table. Mama picked it up, handled it, fondled it, oohed, aahed and made a big thing of how much trouble she had putting it down.
A few days later she got an e-mail from her son that said, "Mom, I'm not calling you a thief. I'm merely stating that we haven't been able to find our golden ladle since your visit, and we clearly remember how much you admired it."
Mama, too, knew how to e-mail. And hers read: "Dear Marvin. I'm not calling you a liar. I'm merely stating that your precious ladle has been in Linda's bed these past five days. And rather hard to miss by anybody who happens to pass that way!"