Long, brutal day. Up by 5:30 a.m., home at 8:30 p.m. The snowy roads weren't so bad, except for the occasional slip, and even the 5 degree cold wasn't so bad, except for loading the early-morning papers. But the combination of it all -- the cold, the dark, the roads, the immensely crowded streets -- made for a tough, miserable day. I sometimes wonder if people would be more inclined to pick up The Outpost if they knew what we go through to get it out there for them. Perhaps not.
Even the radio guys seemed restrained by the weather. Hannity sort of perfunctorily beat up on Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers some more -- a habit he apparently is unable to shake. I flipped over to Limbaugh for a moment during a commercial break and he was arguing that bums should be unionized. This is the sort of material that gave Limbaugh his reputation for having a sense of humor. I could endure only a sentence of it.
Everybody else seemed fairly rational. In fact, three issues came up that I hadn’t thought much about before, and I sorted out my position on all three. It seemed like a vaguely productive way to spend a long, miserable day.
Issue one: Should Caroline Kennedy be appointed to the U.S. Senate?
Initial reaction: Who cares?
Conclusion: Nope. Her resume is too thin. She ought at least to win an election or two first.
Issue two: Should Rick Warren be allowed to give the invocation at Obama’s inauguration?
Initial reaction: Who cares? It’s just a prayer.
Conclusion: Could be another shrewd move on Obama’s part. I think he knows that history is on his side on the gay marriage issue. In 30 or 40 years, my guess is that people will look back on this dispute the same way we look back now on the dispute over interracial marriage: Some people still don’t like it, but it’s really not the government’s business.
The left may be annoyed, but where else is it going to go? Meanwhile, Obama is looking at Warren’s positions on poverty and social justice and thinking, I can work with this guy. Pretty much, I suspect, the way he looked at Jeremiah Wright.
Issue three: A guy named his kid “Adolph Hitler” and tried to have that inscribed on the kid’s birthday cake. Shoprite refused; Wal-Mart said OK. Who was right?
Initial reaction: Who cares? Shoprite is under no obligation to sell cakes it doesn’t want to sell. And the right to give your kid a screwy name doesn’t put the buyer in a protected class, the way he would be if, for instance, Shoprite wouldn’t sell him a cake because he was black or because he was celebrating a Jewish holiday. And Wal-Mart is just trying to make a buck, which is what Wal-Mart’s DNA tells it to do.
Conclusion: The one person in this whole mess who we all agree did nothing wrong is the kid. And he has a dismal life before him. Not only does he have a terrible name, but his parents are apparently loons. And his sister, whose name is Aryan Nation, probably won’t be much help. He will have a lot of tough years ahead of him, and now Shoprite is refusing to decorate his birthday cake because it doesn’t like his name. How cruel is that?
The host – a fill-in for O’Reilly – defended Shoprite, saying that it didn’t want to “mainstream” the father’s behavior. I’m not even sure what that means. The implication appears to be that, unless cake decorators in retail outlets around the nation take a stand, parents everywhere will rush to name their kids after great villains in history. I’ve got news for you, pal: Any parent who names his kid after Hitler has problems a whole lot bigger than finding a cake decorator.
One side note: Apparently the father has in the past tried to get swastikas placed on a cake, and Shoprite refused that, too. Too bad, in a way. The swastika is an ancient and appealing symbol that deserves a far better fate than to be an instant reminder of the Third Reich. When we were kids, our most lurid World War II drawings were mostly an excuse to draw lots of swastikas, not because we were Nazi sympathizers but because we just thought swastikas looked cool, as have many people in many cultures over many generations.
I’m sure the swastika will never be rehabilitated in my lifetime, and probably not in my grandkids’, but it is nice to imagine that memories of Hitler will someday fade so far into the past that the swastika makes a comeback. Just not at some kid’s expense.