New York City. Friday. January 15, 2016.
Hurrying back up along Broadway, headed for the restaurant where we’re meeting up with Mrs M, Lillie’s over on East 17th, got intercepted by a couple of Orthodox Jews handing out pamphlets. Not Hassidic. Black fedoras and suits but no sidelocks or beards, although both had mustaches. Young guys. Late 20s, early 30s. Stern-faced. They’d set up an easel with a poster on it that had the words ATTENTION JEWS in big black letters at the top and what looked like a map of the West Bank just below, so I guessed they were recruiting settlers or looking for donations for the settlements already there, but I only got a quick look so maybe I was just assuming. Anyway the more sternly faced stern-faced young man stepped into my path and said:
Just like that. Almost more like an accusation than a question.
And I started laughing.
Well, I smiled broadly and chuckled.
“No,” I said, I hope in what sounded like a very friendly way. I didn’t want him thinking I was laughing at the idea he’d taken me for a fellow Jew and definitely not at the idea of being Jewish. What I wanted to say was, “Only honorarily,” but that would have required an explanation he wouldn’t have been interested in. (I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood. My best friends through high school were Jewish. My first job was as a shabbos goy at an orthodox synagogue.) Anyway, he had other gefilte fish to fry. I didn’t even get a pamphlet. As soon as I said no he moved on to approach another passer-by with the same question. “Jew?”
And I went on my way, still laughing.
What I was laughing at was, of course, Annie Hall.
In my head I was replaying the scene where Woody Allen is walking down the street with Tony Roberts, trying to explain the less than subtle anti-Semitism he’s been picking up on in conversations everywhere he goes.
You know, I was having lunch with some guys from NBC, so I said, 'Did you eat yet or what?' And Tom Christie said, 'No, JEW?' Not 'Did you?'...JEW eat? JEW? You get it? JEW eat?
And from there, because this is how my mind works, while still thinking about Annie Hall, I started thinking about Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.
One of the things---one of the many things---I can’t stand about Ted Cruz is that he makes me root for Donald Trump to get the nomination.
And one of the things I can’t stand about Donald Trump is he makes me root for Ted Cruz.
I go back and forth.
Some days I’m rooting for Cruz. Some days I’m rooting for Trump.
Today it happens to be Cruz.
It’s not that I want either one to win. They’re both appalling. I’d like to see them both to lose in humiliating fashions. It’s just that I think that Cruz has the best chance against Trump at the moment and Trump has the best chance against Cruz.
No point in rooting for any of the others. None of them has much of a chance against either. They’re all marginally less appalling than Trump and Cruz but they’ll be gone after Super Tuesday unless Cruz puts some serious dents in Trump while Trump beats back Cruz.
So, basically, on any given day I’m for the one doing the most damage at the moment to the other and today that seems to be Cruz. Coincidentally I’m in New York while the media, traditional and social, are obsessing over this week’s non-issue we’ll all have forgotten about by next week, Cruz’s attack on Trump over Trump’s “New York Values.”
I’m thinking, Go get him, Ted!
I know. This is supposed to be backfiring on him.
What’s that even mean, people are asking. New York City values?
Some people think it’s code for “Jewish.” I suppose it could be, but in that it’s code for liberal which is code for commie which is code for probably Jewish too. I doubt Cruz meant it to go quite that far. No Republican with an eye on Florida is going to be as reckless about insulting the Jewish vote as they are about the Hispanic, black, and, well, everybody who isn’t white vote. Cruz is trying to use it to mean “Not Us. Not real Americans of the God-fearing kind.” That would include many Jews and honorary Jews, but it wouldn’t insult them specifically.
Folks are rising the the defense of New York. Defending New York seems to me an un-New Yorker thing to do. New Yorkers don’t need to defend themselves against the likes of yahoos like Ted Cruz. The proper New Yorker’s “defense” of New York values ought to go like this:
“You stand for New York values!”
“So? What’s it to you?”
But Trump himself gave Cruz a proper smacking around in the debate last night and in grand New Yorker style. His defense went more or less like this:
“You want New York values, pal? I’ll show you New York values. 9/11. How’s that for New York values?”
Slate’s Michelle Goldberg says Trump pretty well took care of Cruz on this one.
I don’t think so.
And I hope not.
Cruz isn’t talking to us or anyone who cares about New York City and its values. He has no hope of winning in New York or its environs or neighboring states in the primaries or the general election, and he doesn’t need to. He’s talking to the Republican base. All the Republicans are always and only talking to the Republican base, and the message is all the same:
“We’re good. They’re bad.”
New Yorkers are They.
Boy, are we!
Cruz is trying to rally people who already hate and despise New York and everything it stands for. His plan for winning the nomination includes corralling the Evangelicals and other Right Wing Christians and they’re concentrated in the parts of the South and the Midwest where “New York Values” aren’t just hated, they’re feared as a threat to the good God-fearing Americans’ way of life. From the get-go, Cruz has been out to rile them up and keep them riled up, and I think he should be encouraged in that. However bad they think of us, I think they should be encouraged to think worse, if it will spur them to come out to vote for Cruz and against Trump.
And that’s why I was still thinking about Annie Hall after that stern-faced young Jewish guy went looking for a real Jew, as opposed to an honorary one, with his pamphlets. I was hearing Woody saying:
Don't you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we're left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here.
If that’s what the Right Wing base sees Trump standing for with his evil New York values, if they see him as an honorary Jew, that’s a good thing.
Will it really help Cruz?
But it couldn’t hurt.