My Mother-in-Law

My mother-in-law was a Jewish Republican.  I’m not sure how she ever achieved that highly unusual status since in her day those political animals were about as rare as the Cubs winning the World Series.

Marge was a staunch Nixon supporter who excused everything he did…until Watergate.  When that sordid, pathetic story came into the light she retreated from vocal support to stony silence.  I’m sure she was embarrassed, disappointed and shocked that the President of the United States was actually a crook.  She never again mentioned his name.

Marge’s daughter, my Sweetie, often says “I wonder if my mother would vote for Romney.”  I’m certain that she’d like to think not, but deep down she knows that Marge probably would.  Until yesterday.

Even Marge had her limits.  Although sometimes abrupt and opinionated, she was kind and generous. She came from a lower-income background born to immigrant parents escaping from pogroms.   I’d bet that Marge’s parents never paid income taxes and probably were the beneficiaries of some form of  government largess.  Taking advantage of opportunities, Marge and Leo built a successful business, treated their employees well and supported those less fortunate than them.  And still she called herself a Republican.

I flicked on the TV this morning and saw “Will latest gaffe be an election game changer?” crawling along the bottom of the CNN news screen.  Mitt Romney had surgically divided this country into two camps.  One half of the population included him and those red-blooded Americans who paid their taxes.  The other half consisted entirely of the freeloaders who didn’t pay income taxes.  And there was no point, Mitt said, in reaching out to those freeloaders since they were dependent on big government to take care of them cradle to grave.  And he was not.

Speaking in mid-May at a $50,000 a person fund-raiser in San Diego, he said they are “dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them. Those people pay no income tax, and so our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

David Brooks, one of the two NY Times token Republican columnists, had these words to offer today about Mr. Romney’s comments.  It suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits…It suggests that Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America…It says that Romney doesn’t know much about the political culture…It suggests that Romney knows nothing about ambition and motivation…As a description of America today, Romney’s comment is a country-club fantasy…It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney.

Yesterday was Rosh Hashonah.  We and about a hundred other Jews spent the morning at Temple and were treated by Rabbi Mike to a description of what it means to be Jewish.  No surprise since it’s the same in just about every other religion.  Specifically, it is our responsibility to make this a better world. To repair it by service to society.  To help the fallen.  To strengthen the weak. To make their lives better even at the expense of our own.  It’s not critical that we alone save the world.  But it is commanded that we do what we can here on earth.

At every Temple service we remember the departed.  We stand and say the Kaddish.  We silently think of those who have gone before us.  Our parents, grandparents, children and friends.  The next time I say Kaddish I will think of Marge.  And the next time Sweetie asks me do you think she would vote for him, I’ll know the answer.

10 Responses to “My Mother-in-Law”

  1. 1 Sally September 18, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Excellent post, Fred. I appreciate your insights into the mind of the Republican candidate, the repair of the world, and most especially your remembrances of Marge. I loved her abrupt, opinionated, kind and generous self! Apart from the Republican thing, I like to think we share similar traits.


  2. 3 Leo September 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    We have a Marge in our family.
    Keep the missives coming fredila.


  3. 4 Myrna Cambianica September 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    We have a friend, although not a Marge type, changed registration from Republican to Democratic Party at last election period! My own Republican parents ( who now remain in our hearts with lovely memory/remembrances) switched to Democratic Party during the Vietnam War years.


  4. 5 Susannah September 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    My father was a well known Shakespearean actor with a beautiful voice that could fill any theatre without amplification. We were all gathered as he lay dying and struggling for breath. “Promise me” we all leaned in closer to hear his last request, “promise me you will NEVER VOTE REPUBLICAN”!! We all fell down laughing, and actor that he was, our reaction gave him several more days to live. But I can safely say that none of us has ever been tempted to vote republican.


  5. 6 Karen September 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    We must thank Mother Jones for today’s revelations. Happy New Year to all. Hope lives.


  6. 7 Aryna September 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks for this particular post where you have integrated our Rosh Hashonah experience with the political issues of the day. Once again you are speaking for me.


  7. 8 Jon Lambert September 18, 2012 at 5:29 pm



  8. 9 leila September 18, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    You must ask sweetie pie about the election friction between Mom and Dad (who was a firm democrate) He use to say he had to vote just to cancel out her vote.
    Further on in the Romney leak was the fact that he said people think they have the right to food and housing.. can’t wait for the Daly show and of course Colbert.Repor.
    love ya.


  9. 10 K September 22, 2012 at 11:09 am

    On this one I think of Carl who was not only a staunch Republican..BUT…a Morman. I wonder what he would think of Mitt’s remarks.Did I really hear what he said???


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