In 1952, at a family gathering at my grandparents’ house in Arlington, South Dakota, my Aunt Letty teased me about a button I was wearing.
“I Like Ike,” the button proclaimed. Letty asked me, “Are you a Republican or a Democrat?”
Watch the four-year-old mind at work: I heard two words, one easy, one hard. I thought I could say the hard word, but I was sure I could say the easy one.
“Democrat,” I said.
Letty laughed, and my ears turned red.
Eight years later, when I was 12, John F. Kennedy was elected President. I remember being scared. I had never really known any President except Dwight Eisenhower.
I have a picture of myself in 1952. I’m sitting in a scow-shaped little rowboat on Lake Poinsett (PON-sit), the biggest (just about the only) lake in South Dakota, holding a fishing rod.
I wear a straw hat and a smile.
ONE OF MY grandmother’s (and my mother’s) stories: My great grandfather, John Abbott, my maternal grandmother’s father, died of kidney failure.
It’s an awful way to go. In the days before dialysis and transplant, doctors simply counseled patients to try not to drink too much. The end came either in overwhelming nausea, or when potassium buildup caused heart failure.
Grampa Abbott had asked my mother, then a girl, for a drink. As she had been instructed, she brought him a small cup, half full. Grampa Abbott had a terrible temper. He knocked the cup out of her hand.
“I want a whole dipper full!” he bellowed.
That could have been my fate, too. My kidneys failed in 1975.
“If your kidneys had failed just a couple of years earlier,” my friend Dr. Leslie Dornfeld told me, “we would have just let you go. There wasn’t enough dialysis to go around, so we had to ration it.”
It did not work out that way. I dialyzed for nearly six years, then had a transplant that lasted 20, another that lasted two, and now here I am, trying for another but looking at very long odds.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?