Wrong Again, Haven

There is a family legend about my childhood attempts to contribute to grown up conversations. The paternal response to my age-appropriate but nonetheless meager efforts was often “wrong again, Haven.”

By today’s standards that would not be considered good parenting, but they took place at a time when parent was a noun not a verb. Today’s moms are appalled at the story but I have always thought there were some toughening lessons in those words.

The memory came back to me as I contemplated the last 600 days of campaigning, which have been, for me, pretty much a continuous “wrong again, Haven.”

What went wrong?

Likely, I don’t yet know, but my first thought is too much reading. How can that be? Isn’t knowing more better than knowing less? Yes, but it also draws me to the consensus view. When the consensus is emphatically wrong, as it was in this election, it looks like an index fund in a down market. Everyone is tied for last.

Today, I am trying something new. Though my inbox is full of unread emails, political newsletters and links to websites, I am reading none of them until this is published.

In November 1963, I had a history teacher who faced the challenge, at short notice, of teaching a boarding school class about Lyndon Johnson. The little WASPs could not imagine such a man.

My teacher was in the library all night looking at political stories on microfiche readers. If he were doing the same today, he might well be looking at psychology texts. That is where I would go for guidance. I would read about recoveries and coping strategies because the demons are well known.

Revenge will be tempting and an early signal will be Donald Trump’s success in resisting it. When the first crowd shouts, “lock her up,” I hope he stops them.

We don’t jail political opponents in this country but a quiet conversation – preferably with no electronic record – suggesting the salutary benefits of a withdrawal from public life might not be harmful.

The Washington insiders will now go into full ring-kissing mode in an effort to keep their hands on the steering wheel. The easy but wrong answer is to treat all of them alike by rejecting their experience and expertise. He will have to choose wisely to see that does not drain the parts of the swamp he will need for the next four years.

The other mistake will be to miss a historic opportunity to drain as much as possible. Few will agree with every decision.

All of us confuse what we think with what we hope and that is a frequent source of “wrong again, Haven” thinking for me, but Donald Trump’s 3:15 AM speech was a gracious start.

Though I did not vote for him, I wish him well.

 

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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25 comments

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  • The Huns sacked Rome. It happens, once in awhile.

    Trump will have to schmooze real nice-like with the boys and girls
    in Congress. Pence can help with his! He needs to build coalitions
    to put forward some of his programs. Which look rather expensive to this voter.

    Bon chance, M. Trump!

  • There’s gonna be a ton of Dem finger pointing, mostly at Hill. I don’t think this election was really about personality or campaign style (both sides dreadful). It was about issues.

    I go back to Romney quip about the 47% who are net takers from the federal government. I believe the 53% net payers rose up and said enuf nanny state, enuf people on the public tit, and enuf self-defeating regulation.

    Voila Trump.

    BTW, where has Liberty Pell been all these months?

  • HL Menken called them the “Boobocracy”. Today they have triumphed. I think our ‘Long national nightmare’ has just begun .

  • A call for lenity is all well and good, but I’d like to hear the weeping of their women. You must not have been paying attention in history class if you did not gain an understanding from a study of LBJ, however brief, that politics is pay-back. It ain’t beanbag.
    Also, any “expert” who has had any involvement whatsoever in the course of governmental conduct that has reduced this nation to domestic misery and international ridiculousness should have the grace to leave DC and go get a job as a manual laborer.

    • I can think of few emotions more reviled than the desire for revenge but we would be better served to recognize it as a legitimate feeling than to pretend it does not exist. If revenge works to achieve desired results on the most important priorities so be it. If it only works to make the person seeking it feel better about himself, it might be best to put a lid on it.

      What’s the goal and how do you get there?

  • Haven, this just in:

    NEWLY-FORMING BELTWAY CONSENSUS: Now that he’s won, Trump must come to us and humbly
    apologize.
    –Posted at 12:20 pm by Glenn Reynolds, a/k/a Instapundit

  • Predictions:
    He will be unable to bring back those manufacturing jobs he promised, because trade pacts were a minor contributing factor.

    He will fail in his effort to throw the “insider” moneychangers out of the Washington temple, because they know the system better than anyone around him.

    Like GOP presidents before him, he will easily succeed in getting Congress to pass massive tax cuts but fail to get the spending cuts needed to balance the budget. Result: a significant increase in the deficit and national debt.

    Repealing Obamacare will be as easy to pass as tax cuts; replacing it with something that provides increased and affordable coverage will prove elusive and bring about widespread discontent.

    I dare not touch foreign policy. Other than not getting Mexico to pay for a wall, there are just too many variables, including especially relationship with Russia.

    • I agree in differing measure with all of your predictions.

      The one I most hope is wrong is the second because ousting the moneychangers would facilitate much else that would be salutary.

  • I have come around to the idea of giving him a chance but expect he is incapable of changing. In my opinion he will show the awful campaign rhetoric represented his true self and as soon as he appoints Giuliani, Christy, or Gingrich he will demonstrate his poor judgement and cronyism

  • your next to last sentence stands out a bit for me. it makes me wonder —
    how ‘gracious’ is it to call for unity when you have been actively promoting disunity, division, and discord throughout the duration of the campaign?

    rather than gracious, that is hypocritical, fanciful and/or delusional.

    it is not yet time to unite behind this self-centered, profiteering, country-damaging, tax-avoiding, unscrupulous, pathologically lying president-elect.

    and there will never be such a time.

    • Steve, many feel that way and they may be right. I wonder if the same people criticized those who did not accept the Obama presidency?

      I am cynical enough that I believe nothing that is said to get elected — none from the right; none from the left. I think all politicians are simply lying to enough voters to get elected.

      Those most disappointed are likely to be those who supported the winner.

      Here is something from Politico Playbook

      WHAT IF … — The new narrative among top GOP leadership aides in Capitol and around D.C. is that Trump might just govern like a middle-of-the-road, moderate New York Republican. The guy wants $1 trillion in roads, tax reform and changes to the health care law. He’s not interested in answering questions about his plan to ban Muslims or build a wall on the border with Mexico — it’s almost like he didn’t campaign on those issues for years! He’s not going to get in the weeds and dictate details — that’s what Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are for. He’s going to defer to Mike Pence on tactics and relationship building. What if he fooled us all?

      • the call to ‘unite’ behind Trump merely because he is the president-elect is still not working for me. here’s an interesting quote about unity and Trump (from the NYT I think):
        — David Duke, the former Louisiana lawmaker and former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, tweeted that Mr. Trump’s victory was “one of the most exciting nights of my life,” and also, “Our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump!” In another tweet, he wrote, “Anyone telling you this was a vote for ‘unity’ is a liar and they know it!” —
        So, the donald’s penchant for outrageous lies and confabulation is going to be hard to shake off. this man deserves no respect, expect as another flawed child of God. unfortunately, this child is now on a big stage that is not meant for entertainment.

        • More people voted against him than voted for him and he is undeniably divisive.
          I pause when I hear people generalize about Trump supporters especially when they get lumped in with David Duke, the KKK and Nazis. Some of those? Yes. But all?

          Here is a quote from a story I posted after the third debate:

          Whatever good things he tried to do for himself will be eradicated by the failure to accept election result answer. #debatenight 10:11 PM

          July 4 is our national holiday but a case can be made for January 20, the day we inaugurate presidents with neither soldiers nor tanks in the streets. More than anything else, that differentiates us from other counties.

          Call that into question and you lose because you deserve to lose.