During a certain war a troop calling itself the Gentle Riders rode into history and one or two ambuscades. The Gentle Riders were recruited from the aristocracy of the wild men of the West and the wild men of the aristocracy of the East. In khaki there is little telling them one from another, so they became good friends and comrades all around.
Ellsworth Remsen, whose old Knickerbocker descent atoned for his modest rating at only ten millions, ate his canned beef gayly by the campfires of the Gentle Riders. The war was a great lark to him, so that he scarcely regretted polo and planked shad.
One of the troopers was a well set up, affable, cool young man, who called himself O’Roon. To this young man Remsen took an especial liking. The two rode side by side during the famous mooted up-hill charge that was disputed so hotly at the time by the Spaniards and afterward by the Democrats.
— O. Henry (poking fun at Theodore Roosevelt), “The Badge of Policeman O’Roon”
The Gentlest Rider of them all, Barack Hussein Obama, is off to fight an uphill battle in Cuba. He and the First Lady announced, in the Earnest tones of their spokesperson, that they are off to see the wizards of that island paradise, the superannuated brothers Castro. Before departing, they will make a brief stop at the casket of Justice Scalia, to make certain he is not stirring, lest he rise zombie-like to protect the next fifty million babies from extinction at the hands of their wouldn’t-be mothers.
The slot for sycophantic visitation in Cuba just reopened in time for the Obamas. It had previously been occupied by Pope Francis who rode gently through there the other day when he found some time between schooling Congress on Global Warming and holding a grave mass at the U.S.-Mexican border. The mass graves in Cuba did not capture his attention. Indeed he encountered nothing in Cuba to offend his religious sensibility. Yet our border with the democratic country of Mexico was somehow a symbol of oppression.
Probably I should be more respectful to Barack the pontifical politician and to Francis the political pontiff. I am certainly not of the view that religion lacks the weight to tip the scales of political judgment. The gravamen of my critique against these two is the sense that they are working this equation in reverse: they are giving politics the weight to tip the scales of religious judgment.
Exhibit B is the Trump card, recently played by both world leaders. The first to engage was Obama himself, who asserted that his faith in the good judgment of Americans assures him that Donald will not be his successor. In essence, Obama will not certify Trump for such a Caesarean berth.
Sitting Presidents generally avoid badmouthing the opposition candidate for the next election — much less in the primary season before the nominations have been decided. But Obama has his own idea of Executive order.
The Pope tried to be coyer in his slap at Trump. He opined that if indeed there was a person who had in fact said the things the reporters said Trump said, said person would not qualify to be counted a Christian. “Building walls and not building bridges” is how the Pope codified the sin of Trump. The Pope should know a thing or two about bridges, since he bought one from the Global Warming salesmen.
Trump protested mildly at first, cleverly utilizing the word “disgrace,” then graciously backed off and allowed Francis to hide behind his translucent circumlocutions. Donald, for his part, was no more scathed by the mortification of Francis than by the vilification of the American press. He has long since demonstrated that “The Dart of the Eel” sells best.
After Nevada, it seems clear that Americans are behind the Trump candidacy in sufficient numbers to assure him the Republican nomination. Many are voting for him because they believe he has the moxie and the mojo to make a real difference in how the Presidency is handled. But many others are more concerned with voting against Barack Obama and, truth be told, against Pope Francis. They are rejecting the Emperor’s New Clothes and they are rejecting Chicken Little.
They do not accept that having a country with borders and laws makes you a xenophobe. They do not accept that believing in traditional marriage makes you a homophobe. They do not accept that fighting back against large groups (al Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, et al.) of murderous Moslems trying to kill civilized people across the world makes you an Islamaphobe. They do not accept that you must believe the world will burn up (or “boil over” in Obama’s words) if you drive your car and air-condition your living room. They believe you can be a decent person and have a job and a family and respect your neighbors and crack a joke once in a while and drive cross-country and get on a plane and eat fast food and live a normal life without being labeled a wacky reactionary extremist ideologue hater.
They are saying “NO, WE CAN!” We can be Rough Riders again.