Last week I was looking at a real “turkey” of a Thanksgiving. I was wondering what the heck I was going to have to be thankful for. As a faithful Republican, my party is in complete disarray. We just got hammered, as you all know, from the Town Board room of Southampton Town Hall all the way to the West Wing of the White House.
My president has the lowest approval ratings in the history of approval ratings. We are being marginalized in the Congress, and perhaps the best hope we have of being significant players in an Obama administration is as Secretary-of-Something-Innocuous—a Cabinet-level post that won’t be too threatening to the Democrats in power but token enough to make it look as if the president-elect is being “bipartisan.” You can be sure that if postmaster general was still a Cabinet position, it would be offered to a Republican. We’ll probably get Veterans Affairs—a nice, safe sinecure for a Republican without over-reaching political aspirations.
What to do? Shall we stand outside the halls of power angrily shaking our fists at those inside who are toasting their own success? Do we start printing banners that say “Just Wait Until 2010!”? We can’t even sulk in front of a roaring fire made up of our own reserves of political capital, because we have used all of that up! We can’t retire to sunny Florida or someplace warm, because with this economy we’re going to have to continue working for a few more years to make up for the ravages inflicted on our 401ks by Wall Street.
So, tell me, what do we Republicans and Conservatives have to be thankful for other than the fact that soon-to-be ex-Vice President Dick Cheney has cancelled his hunting trip to the North Sea Woods?
I suppose, in a perverse sort of way, we ought to be thankful for a good swift kick in the tokus. Complacency has always been the bane of Republicans, and we have been given the opportunity to really examine our core strengths and obvious weaknesses.
There’s also this: The Democrats have been whining for years that they could do it better if they could just be given the chance. Well, here’s your chance, my Democratic friends, and I wish you the best (well, actually, I don’t: I still remember Bill Clinton). If you mess this up, you will have no more excuses: you have all the cards, all the chips and all the reins of power. But whether you succeed or fail, it looks to me as if we Republicans cannot lose.
If you are successful in fixing the economy, ending the threat of terrorism, and extricating us from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I will be the first, as a loyal and proud American, to congratulate you. All of us will be far better off than we are today if you succeed in your stated aims. But we all know that Democrats are inherently incapable of managing success: that’s why, should you succeed, you’ll need Republicans. We are the party of common sense and solid management, and you will need those capabilities to keep your coalitions from fragmenting into a thousand squawking factions, all with their own ideas on how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. If you fail, and I sincerely hope you do not, we’ll be there to pick up the pieces and move on. That’s also something Republicans are good at doing.
I ponder all this while looking out my office window at the first snowflakes of the season. I want to turn up the heat just a tad, but I’m recalling the $4.89 a gallon for oil last winter. But wait … maybe I can! Heating oil costs are actually down substantially, and I saw a sign today at a Flanders gas station for gas approaching $2 a gallon. Now, there’s something to be thankful for!
My son ran up to me excitedly last night with a copy of the latest Toys ‘R’ Us catalog clutched firmly in his fists. He wanted to show me the items he had circled that were on his “must have” Christmas list. I noticed with some dismay that he had picked at least one item on every one of the 100-plus pages, except for those pages with “the girl toys.” But to show you how much impact this lousy economy has had on every one of us, even 6-year-olds, he proudly explained to me that he tried very hard to pick items “with at least 10 percent off!” My cup runneth over …
Laura has decreed that this will be a Christmas without jewelry. “I have enough,” she said. (Guys! This is akin to her saying, “You can watch the Jets and Giants games, back-to-back, and put your feet on the couch.”) This is a certain cause for falling-on-the-knees “thanks.” I wonder how she feels about power tools?
Tate’s is still the best bakery on the planet … Morton Wildlife Refuge is still an awesome place to stroll, especially on a cold, crisp Thanksgiving morning … the stacks at the Rogers Memorial Library still ooze fine literature and history … the smell of the Atlantic Ocean as it crashes into Coopers Beach is still worth getting up early to experience … especially if you follow that up with eggs and a three-stacker at Sip ‘N Soda …
Mayor Mark Epley successfully snuffing out talk of an increase in Southampton Village’s fees for outdoor dining … snuggling in the middle rows at the UA Southampton, the two of us sharing a large popcorn, extra butter … a quiet dinner, table for two by the window at Le Chef … raking leaves like a madman before the road crews arrive … smelling the wood smoke from my neighbor Jim’s chimney as I retrieve the morning paper from the driveway … reading my son a story at bedtime … the beauty we all get to experience from nature by just living here.
Yes, there’s still much to be thankful for, and from us to all of you, we hope your Thanksgiving was one of reflection and peace.