Editor's Note: Every Friday, Tom Keane offers up assorted observations, conundra and miscellanea about the week that was. Here's his round-up for the week ending Oct. 20, 2017.
It was the week when Donald Trump muscled aside the Weinstein scandal with a few well-aimed insults at Gold Star parents.
Gruesome. In the first game of the season, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward broke his ankle, a devastating, season-ending — and perhaps career-damaging — injury. So what would Trump say: he “knew what he signed up for?”
The not-so-honored dead. Speaking of which, it’s worth considering why Trump’s cavalier comment to a soldier’s widow was so wrongheaded. It wasn’t just that it was insensitive. It’s that it minimized the tragedy of a life lost out a sense that because a soldier was willing to take a risk, somehow he valued his own life less than do the rest of us. Isn’t the opposite true? Soldiers, police officers, firefighters and yes, even basketball players, knowingly take risks on behalf of us — whether it’s for our safety or even just our entertainment. As the Bible says, “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” It’s a notion that seems lost on this president.
Aftershocks. The Harvey Weinstein storm continued unabated, as millions of women (and some men) took to the tweets with #metoo. There then followed the inevitable essays pondering what’s wrong with men with the culprit being “masculinity” itself. Not really. The highest form of masculinity is to be a “gentleman” — to act honorably and courteously to others. Weinstein and those who sexually attack and harass are anything but gentlemen. Their behavior is grounded not in masculinity, but in that they never were real men in the first place.
Staying home. Travel firm ForwardKeys has been talking for months about the so-called “Trump slump,” saying the president’s travel bans have killed tourism. New data out seem to bolster their argument. I’m skeptical; this smacks of politically-motivated Trump-bashing. For one, the decline is just 1.4 percent from last year. Then too, other factors — such as the strong dollar — are also likely causes for the drop. One also has to wonder about claims that the drop in tourism means the U.S. is “losing billions.” The Dow this week hit a new high, cresting to over 23,000. As a whole, the economy is performing spectacularly — travel ban or not.
Second term. The health of the economy raises questions about James Carville’s famous aphorism: “The economy, stupid.” Carville’s point was that elections turn on incomes and employment and that, when it comes to casting a vote, little else really matters. Does Trump’s oftentimes bizarre and divisive behavior upend that? Or does his campaign slogan become: “Sure, he’s nuts. But you’ve got a job.”
Trump who? The president agreed to a bipartisan deal in the Senate to continue insurance subsidies under Obamacare and then a day later said he opposed the deal. You’d think D.C. pols would be feeling whip-sawed by the president’s constant flip-flopping, but at this point, they seem to expect it — and have discounted it. The House and Senate will figure something out on their own and then give it to the president for his signature. Rather than leading on healthcare, taxes or domestic policies, Trump has just become the final hurdle.
Pick me! Pick me! Amazon-mania ratcheted up a notch, with cities and towns in New England putting together pitches to host the e-tailer’s second headquarters. New Hampshire’s proposal basically mocked Boston, saying the Granite State was free of the costly housing, traffic jams and unfriendly business climate of the Hub. Boston-boosters responded by basically agreeing, but saying Amazon could help solve those problems. Bad strategy, Boston. I don’t think you win a beauty contest by admitting you’re ugly but hoping for a makeover.
Grade deflation. Students taking the re-designed MCAS tests performed far worse than under the old exam. It’s not that the new test is too hard. Rather, the old one was too easy. So now what? For years Massachusetts has been glorying in its reputation for having the nation’s highest-quality educational system. Are we really no better than Nevada? And most importantly, do we let Jeff Bezos know?
Is Christmas “Green and Red Day?” And finally, a school in Walpole canceled Halloween and instead said it would celebrate “Black and Orange Day.” This is obviously silly, the kind of mindless political correctness that drives so many nuts. But black and orange? The two Halloween colors have their origins in death and fire. So rather than the kids dressing up in kitty-cat and superhero costumes, Walpole apparently now wants them to spend October 31 contemplating the end of days.