The "Oh, Grow Up" Election

November 16, 2016
                                                  The "Oh, Grow Up" Election

               We are at turning point in American history, I think, and might I suggest that the dynamic which is powering this turn is the contrast between Toughness and Sensitivity.  

               I was raised in a world which placed a high value on Toughness, and little on Sensitivity.   My father was a very, very tough man.   I don’t mean that he was tough on me, or that he wanted me to be tough.   He was tough on himself.   Toughness was the central virtue of his philosophy.    He lived a difficult life in the time that I knew him, and his system of belief centered on two things:  1) service to your community, and 2) doing whatever had to be done to reach tomorrow.

               This is the essence of toughness:  No matter what happens, you go on toward your goals.    My father died on a Sunday evening.   I was a young writer; I had an article due for Esquire magazine the next day, and I hadn’t written it yet.   That article went off on Monday morning.   No matter what happens, you don’t make excuses.   You do what you have to do.  

               It is difficult to explain how central this idea was to him.   We saw evidence of it several times every day.    When his feet hurt he would pull out a box cutter and carve on his feet.   We pulled rotten teeth with pliers, the kids did.   All of his real teeth were long gone before I knew him.  Things went wrong; you just went on.   The world was a tough place; you had to deal with it.    What was important was that you not back away from the challenge, because if you backed away, things were just going to get worse.

               My father was quite clever in small things and he had many good values, such as an almost limitless willingness to help his neighbors, but he was not a wise man; I am not trying to be hard on him or to criticize him, but he was not.  He had a very poor understanding of how the world works.   Confronted with any challenge, his instinct was to bull forward.   Many times he could have benefited from more reflection, and sometimes from more sensitivity.   He didn’t have a real philosophy, that comes to you from examination of the world at large; he had an instinctive philosophy, a guttural extension of what seems right from where you are.  The greatest sin, other than selfishness, was to give in to fear, and then not do what you had to do. 

               I remember I said to him one time, when I was at the age when I was trying to figure out the world, "You know what your problem is, Dad?"

               "No, son, what is my problem?"

               "You’re just too poor to get rich." 

               He liked that.   It had to do with his toughness.   He had no operating capital, no space in which to maneuver to make things better.   He just had to deal with where he was, and he was going to be there until he died, and he knew it. 

          &nb​sp;    Another definition of toughness is "the willing acceptance of suffering."    If Dad could do anything the hard way or the easy way, he always did it the hard way, because he assumed axiomatically that accepting the hard parts of the bargain up front would lead to better results in the long run.    A willingness to accept suffering may mean the willing acceptance of suffering on your own part, in the pursuit of a better life, or it may mean that you expect others to accept suffering, as well.  Toughness sometimes competes with sensitivity, and in this competition toughness has been taking a terrible beating for the last 50 years.   I think that our society has been operating without any functional definition of toughness, and, because we lack any definition of toughness, we lack any sense of its worth.   I have dealt many times with people who questioned whether there was any such thing as toughness, in a meaningful sense.   One thing they will say is that everybody thinks they are tough. 

             ​;  Well, everybody thinks they are smart, too, but that doesn’t mean that there is no such thing as intelligence.   A great many people who are not attractive may imagine that they are attractive, but that does not mean there is no such attribute. 

               Intelligence, beauty and toughness exist everywhere around us, and, as many different people may lay claim to different kinds of intelligence and different kinds of beauty, so too may many people claim different types of toughness.    But the determination and the ability to overcome difficulties is an important variable among us.   Those who give up in the face of obstacles will absolutely fail.  Toughness is a trait that a healthy culture must foster in its citizens.     

               Tough times, of course, make tough people.   The generation that went through the Depression of the 1930s and then World War II came out tougher than boiled leather.   They believed that any form of complaint was weakness.   Somebody smashed you in the mouth?   Get up and kick him in the balls.   Somebody insulted your appearance?   Insult his religion in return, or his girlfriend, or his personal hygiene—but whatever you do, don’t complain about it.   "Grow up," we were told a dozen times a week.   To complain about anything was childish; grow up.

               They were TOO tough.  Their belief in toughness as the lynchpin of all values was destructive of other values.   There was a pivot point, beginning about 1963, when the people of my generation began to reject toughness and embrace sensitivity.  

               I am not in any way suggesting that we were wrong to do this.   We were right to do this.   As a culture, we did need to learn to be more sensitive to the suffering of others.   There was too much tolerance for violence.  There was too much tolerance for injustice.    There was too much tolerance for cruelty, and for bullying.   Our society needed more sensitivity to these issues.   My generation, the Baby Boomers, was right to nurture the culture of sensitivity that we did in fact foster.   Parental methods which had been accepted for thousands of years became child abuse.   My generation led that change, and we were right to lead that change.   It needed to be changed.

           ​;    But we didn’t know when to shut up about it.

          &n​bsp;    We won the culture war, and then we tried to win it again, and win it again, and win it again.    Each battle was for a smaller victory than the last.   As toughness had once been the central virtue which trumped all other virtues, now sensitivity became the trump card.    A public person was supposed to shudder at the idea of accidentally saying something which offended someone—and, in fact, most of us did.   We had to learn to look at every word we wrote as a black person would look at it, as a gay person might look at it, as a woman might look at it, as a gay black woman might look at it, to make certain it was not offensive from any angle.   Uncharted classes of protected citizenry arose—disabled people, the elderly, transgendered people, mentally ill people, short people.   Can’t call them midgets anymore; it’s offensive.   When I was young we were taught to refer to exceptionally slow learners as "retarded", so that we wouldn’t offend them.  

           &​nbsp;   This kind of sensitivity is inherently selective.   Despite the explosion of protected classes, I still belong to a dozen or more groups which can be openly insulted without restraint.   I’m a fat guy; fat people are still fair game.    People say false, derogatory and hurtful things about statisticians, think nothing of it.   People on the coasts, people who have never been to Kansas and know next to nothing about it, will not hesitate to reduce us to their own bigoted images of the place.   It annoys me, but you know; it’s normal.    I’m a member of the media elite; I can’t complain about us. 

               While the belief in the primacy of sensitivity has permeated the political culture, the belief in toughness has not gone away; it has merely gone into hiding.  Among the places where toughness has gone to hide is the sports world.  

               You cannot be successful in sports if you are not tough.   If you make excuses, you are always going to have an excuse.   The referee blows a call against you, you don’t complain about it; you work harder on the next play. Everybody in sports understands that, so the sports world does not tolerate excuses.   We value toughness.  

              ​; I have written about this before, but when I played high school football, not well enough to talk about, but I did, the coach would put us through long practices in the hot sun without water.    Across the nation a few high school athletes would die every year from this practice, but football coaches just ignored that and went on.     When I have written about this before, younger people will say to me, looking puzzled, "But what was the point of that?"

             &​nbsp; It was to make you tough.  It was to make you say to yourself "No matter how hard this is, I will not quit.   I will carry on."   It was to make you a little bit more like those men in the trenches in World War II, who didn’t quit no matter how tough the living conditions were.   I quit.   I wasn’t that tough. 

               The long practices without water were stupid, because they carried an unacceptable risk of serious health consequences, but on the other end of that, about 2008, there were a spate of stories about football coaches "abusing" their players by doing things like shoving them, yelling at them, and making them run punitive laps for minor offenses.   That was stupid, too.   The notion that a football coach can’t kick a player in the ass to make him realize he is not working hard enough is ridiculous.   The player is not injured.   The player does not suffer any pain that he will not recover from in a matter of minutes.   If he doesn’t want to put up with it, he can quit the team like I did.      

               Bobby Knight, one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, was forced out of his job in part because he grabbed a player and pushed him, impatiently, where he was supposed to be as a part of a defensive scheme.  That was the political world trying to dominate the sports world, trying to tell us what our values needed to be and how to fix them.  OK, you won that one, but 2016 was the year in which the debt came due on that.   (Why this paragraph is in italics is a complete mystery.   I didn't put it in italics, and it shows as normal on the editing screen.   For some reason it has italics here.) 

          &nbs​p;    Toughness has remained a key virtue in many places in American culture, if not throughout American culture.    Black Americans, still living in tough times, still value toughness within their own culture—as do all cultures of poor and disadvantaged people.   The popular television show "Fear Factor" was 100% about toughness.   People did not cease to be tough, nor did they stop believing in toughness.     Only the most political one-half of the Democratic Party denied the value of toughness.   Everybody else held on to it. 

               Look, there is a lot of Donald Trump that I despise.   I don’t admire his toughness.   He doesn’t insult people because he is tough; it’s because he’s a jackass.   But he is a pretty tough jackass.   He doesn’t back down when he is challenged.   He doesn’t make excuses.    It doesn’t make him a bully or a criminal; it just makes him a jackass.  

               He is famously willing to offend people.    I’m not going to vote for that, but I think a lot of people did, and I get that.   In some ways, Americans need to be tougher than we have been.   We need to be tougher in negotiating trade deals.   We need to be tougher in enforcing immigration laws.  We need to be tougher in insisting that our allies pay their NATO fees. 

               Back when there were hard-ass managers, baseball teams used to alternate between hard-ass managers and nice-guy managers.   When the hard-ass manager offended enough people, they’d hire the nice guy.   When the players walked all over the nice guy, they’d hire a hard-ass.   There aren’t really any hard-ass managers any more, like there used to be.

               This is the other end of 1963.   People older than me still believe in that old, 1950s toughness. The younger people don’t have any experience with it.   They can’t really imagine how tough those old geezers were, or what it was like to live in a world in which they made all the rules.   I believe that this election, more than any other one thing, was an emphatic rejection of global sensitivity.   This was the "Oh, grow up" election.   Somebody mocked you because you have arthrogryposis?   Well, what did you do to him?   Somebody kicked you in the teeth because you claimed to be a war hero and waved the flag in his face?   Grow up, McCain; it was past time for somebody to tell you to stuff that flag up your ass.   You are offended because he speaks crudely about the sexuality of different women?   What, you didn’t know that men did that?  

               Pretending that men don’t do that is not "sensitivity"; it is pretense.    The better class of men do not do that, but most people aren’t deeply offended by it; that’s the real lesson here.   Grow up.   People say offensive things; it’s just words.  It is not a good thing, but you’re too tough a person to be complaining about it.  














Now open for comments.   Please be sure to tell me that Donald Trump isn't tough; nobody has suggested that yet.  


COMMENTS (42 Comments, most recent shown first)

Marc Schneider
Jeff, I do enjoy having rational discussions about politics and that's increasingly rare on the internet as people become increasingly entrenched in the their own "side.". All I can say is that I hope you are right about Trump. I think that Johnson is probably right about having permanent interests, not permanent allies. I was just called a "disgusting pig" on an Amazon book discussion thread. It's getting very nasty out there.
9:47 PM Nov 25th
Marc, I think (FWIW) you and I are having a stimulating dialogue here. Good stuff.

Without dismissing your concerns, let me lob another isolated example at you. Have you seen this?

Trump called in the BET founder, Bob Johnson, who looked Trump in the eye and came away saying he (Johnson is now optimistic about Trump's intentions and that he "thinks Trump is going to find a way forward" for blacks economically.

I am no Trumpie by any stretch of the imagination. But the last two weeks I've been quite taken aback by the natural affinity he seems to have for building business relationships with people you wouldn't expect him to.

12:11 AM Nov 23rd
Marc Schneider

I agree about Romney and I do think it's an effort to assure people. But, because it's such an isolated example, it's hard to take seriously. Let me put it this way: I don't think Trump said anything that would suggest that he is planning to build concentration camps. To that extent, I agree some of the fear is overblown. But he did say and do things that suggest his view of governing is "I won so fuck you." I consider myself left-of-center but, as I think my previous posts have shown, I'm often skeptical of the liberal/left. But I don't think the fear of Trump is simply a result of "liberal-biased" journalism. Do I think he is a racist/anti-Semite/Hitlerian? No, I don't. But I think he is temperamentally unsuited to be president. I mean, even if you thought what the cast did was inappropriate, it's not the president-elect's place, IMO, to send a tweet like that. Same with the SNL skit. This inability to let things roll off his back really worries me. I think temperament is a much more important factor in being an effective president than intelligence or particular policy positions. Reagan, as much as I disagreed with him, seemed like a decent man who was secure enough in his skin to not be petty. We have had too many insecure presidents, specifically Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, and those insecurities inevitably got them and the country into trouble.
4:24 PM Nov 22nd
Hey Marc,

I agree with all of that, wholeheartedly. Very well said. (... except for your last two sentences; I'd give Trump credit for considering Romney for Sec of State and so forth.)

But yeah. I think much of that fear on the left is sincere -- and in part due to the NYT's over-the-top demonization of Trump as a 2D caricature -- that this sincere fear should be soothed, comforted, addressed as best as can be done.

It's not going to be easy, if everything the admin does to reach out, is waved away as a manipulation, right? :- )

3:29 PM Nov 22nd
Marc Schneider

Let me just say that I would not have done what the cast did. And, as I said, I thought Pence acted with class. And, even though I disagree with him on almost every issue, I have come to believe that, given a choice between Pence and Trump, I would much prefer Pence to be president. I also agree that liberal students aren't very tolerant of things they don't like. I never liked the way that liberals compared GW Bush to Hitler. But there is a very real fear on the liberal/left (me included) of the incoming administration that has not been helped at all by Trump's post-election actions. In many cases, the hysteria on the left is over-the-top and I sort of thought so myself right after the election. But I don't think so anymore. In that context, I did not think that what the cast did was so bad. I don't see that as being "overt hostility" although there was some booing I guess. They were simply pleading, like a lot of people, for Trump to reach out to the plurality of the country that did not vote for him to provide some reassurance and they did it through the nearest vehicle. He did not do so and I don't think he is capable of doing so. All he really had to do was say, don't worry about it, I hear you and I plan to be a president for all the people. It also would help if he would disavow the alt-right/neo-Nazi/KKK segment of his support, but, again, he does not do that. In fact, it appears that he is temperamentally incapable of reaching out to people. He seems to want nothing but adoration.
2:19 PM Nov 22nd
I understand what you're saying. But:

1. It is disrespectful to presume that a VP-elect intends to avoid enforcing the U.S. Constitution, or that

2. The cast can help him "figure out" his job during a Broadway play (how much do those actors know, do you think, about the historical Alexander Hamilton? Are they aware e.g. that he was an immigration hawk while celebrating him?

3. When Ben Carson did the same thing (actually much less) to Barack Obama at a non-political function, the left went wild about disrespect

4. The cast has a right to commit "microaggressions" or "macroagressions" against Pence with his family present, but many would prefer to see them apply the same "sensitivity" standards to both sides equally

5. The lead actor is a racist and misogynist himself, as demonstrated by his Twitter account

Except for that, I agree. The booing and the lecturing of the V-P is perfectly fine by me and fine by Mike Pence, but now let's see OSU students react as graciously as Pence did when THEY hear things they don't like.

That's the guts of Mr. James' article. Let us all, including campus students, take very strong public disagreement with the grace that Mike Pence showed.

- Jeff

12:35 PM Nov 22nd
Marc Schneider
Jeff, although I agree with much of what Bill said, I don't agree that what happened at "Hamilton" was overt hostility at Pence. The cast was expressing (I think) legitimate concerns about the tone and attitude of the prospective Trump Administration. There was nothing disrespectful in how the cast phrased their statement and it didn't seem to bother Pence. Trump could have used it as a moment of reflection to realize that, wow, people really are scared of me. Even Reagan had an epiphany when he realized that he was scaring the bejeezus out of the Soviets with talk about nuclear war. Trump could have used it as a moment to reassure people that he is not an ogre. Instead, as he usually does, he acted like a petulant child.

People say, give them a chance. But, since the election there has not been one thing this prospective administration has done to ease my fears. From what I can see, Trump's view of governing is no different than his view of life in general-I won and screw everyone who opposed me.

9:05 AM Nov 22nd
GFletch - perhaps the 50th-percentile voter thought that safe spaces, cookies and coloring books had something to do with it.

It's hard to explain to the 50th-percentile voter the *moral urgency* of referring to a person as the gender they self-identify with, and hard to explain to them why "microaggressions" against blacks, gays and women are comparable to Hitler's speeches, while Mike Pence can't go out in public with his family without overt hostility directed against him.

YOU don't see much evidence that America whines a lot, but perhaps you don't belong to the group that must speak -- if at all -- in a voice coerced by those they disagree with.

- Jeff
1:42 AM Nov 22nd
In the spirit of challenging implicit but unstated much proof is there that the USA or any other country is a nation of whiners, or that there is a lack of toughness? Sure, political discourse seems to be all about superficial outrage, and the internet is full of ill-considered comments bereft of research or reflection ( miss the last plane to japan...offended, anyone?).

But in the real world...the one we walk around in, shopping and working and dealing with other people in uncountable different ways...I don't see anything essentially different from the way I remember it back in 1965. People are still people, jerks are still jerks, lies are told but not respected.

No, I'm going to disagree with Bill on this. I don't think this is a watershed moment about toughness and sensitivity. I think this is a watershed moment about truth and pragmatic lying, and about honour and shame.

We've got choices.
11:14 PM Nov 21st
I would agree there is limited value in being highly sensitive to things that may negatively affect you, and regularly complaining. A related kind of sensitivity, however, is empathy -- empathy for the suffering of others. This I applaud, and as for its flip side, a group that seems to pride itself on its insensitivity to the suffering of other people, well that I am strongly opposed to.

Do you remember the 2000 election, when George W. Bush ran as the "compassionate conservative"? I think a lot of people responded to that, although it seemed to disappear soon after he took office.​
8:02 PM Nov 21st
Marc Schneider

I agree with your comment. The entire country, left and right, has become victims of something or someone. And, of course, there really are victims. But it's become so politically valuable to be member of a victimized group that even white males now consider themselves to be victims. And it's become impossible to have a rational discourse because of it. Frankly, the situation of campuses has become one in which people with a dissenting opinion from the left consensus feel the need to self-censor. (And I'm not talking about blatant racism, just disagreement.) But the same thing happens on the right-no one can defend government action without being branded a socialist. Or, not wear a flag pin on their lapel without being labeled unpatriotic.
10:29 AM Nov 21st
The right has become what it claims to hate: whiners.

For years the right has decried the victimization culture of the left. Nothing is the fault of anyone on the left, the root of all problems is racism, sexism, the wealthy, etc. A lot of that criticism from the right is justifiable.

But now it's the right who also claims victimhood. Immigrants. Liberals. Academics. The elites. The media. They're all out to get you, they're standing in your way, there's no way you can overcome your lot in life. It's not your fault that you didn't get much of an education and there aren't any more low-wage factory jobs. It's everyone else's fault, you're just a victim.

10:19 AM Nov 21st
Marc Schneider
I agreed with much of Bill's article. I made a comment on the blog. I appreciate people who just get on with life and don't try to blame others or exaggerate their victimhood. But I think Trump is the opposite of tough. He is nothing but a narcissistic, entitled punk who can't stand to have someone call him out. I agree that the left has gone too far on the sensitivity spectrum; there are really bizarre things going on at schools and I really liked Lilla's column. But, then I read the attacks on liberals from the right, completely ignoring the utter nastiness of our new president. As much as I deplore hypersensitivity, I would rather be a bleeding heart liberal than a heartless conservative and that's what I see Trump as. And, what really annoys is how many conservatives conflate "political correctness" with not being an asshole. Yes, there is hypersensitivity, but there is also such a thing as just not being a mean SOB and calling people names just to feel "tough." Trump is nothing but a bully and I think a lot of his supporters admire him for that, which I think says something about them.
10:10 AM Nov 21st
I agree with many aspects of that column as well. I believe the Obama administration erred in threatening to withhold a portion of federal education funding if schools did not allow transgender students to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity. Not that I'm against such a requirement, necessarily -- I'm conflicted about it. But just that fact, that natural political ALLIES are can't suddenly implement the "stick" approach to an issue most people have barely been introduced to. Contrast that with the legislative approach to gay marriage, where advocates first agitated for lesser protections, and more gradually (although not at all gradually to some minds, I'll grant) built a groundswell of support to the point where even many opponents finally just said "Oh, go ahead then." That's how you do it.
9:02 AM Nov 21st
Set your watches for the next time I quote a Columbia professor op-ed from the NY Times, but this is center mow:

SundayReview | OPINION

The End of Identity Liberalism
By MARK LILLANOV. Nov. 18, 2016​=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region®ion=opinion-c-c​ol-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region
8:31 AM Nov 21st
I read Bill's piece as his thoughts on the toughness vs. sensitivity continuum, and how the voters' perceptions of where the country is on that continuum may have influenced their decisions. I don't see the piece as a commentary on Donald Trump or his personal actions. It's about the election, yes, but that's the jumping off point. It's not about Trump.
8:05 AM Nov 21st
I'm always amazed at how ridiculous and hypocritical the right wing can be. You can find hundreds of scary and offensive statements from Trump and Gingrich and Palin and all the loonies. But one person says "we're anxious that your new administration will not protect us" and they go ballistic, demanding an apology. You've got to be kidding me. This is why people are afraid of what is going to happen for the next four years. The crazies are now in charge. I hope Lisa Simpson can fix the mess that Trump leaves her.
12:34 AM Nov 21st
Brock Hanke
FrankD's comment resonates with me. There is certainly a toughness in protecting yourself physically, but there is also a toughness in being willing to make sacrifices for the good of others. In American political history, this would be "progressive" toughness. It's tough to look at your paycheck and see that money has been taken out in taxes. It's tough to know that some of that money will be spent to keep the chronic unemployed (for whatever reason) sheltered, fed and clothed. It's tough, for that matter, to go to a civil rights protest knowing that some of the people who do this get beaten, arrested, or lynched before they get home. It was tough for me to spend five years resisting the Vietnam draft when I had all the credentials and connections to just disappear into Canada into some university's grad program in applied math and computer science. And, like FrankD's father, it was tough for my dad to go to work at a job with no promotion in the future (dad's only job in my lifetime was rating veterans' disabilities), because that job would never go away, and so his family would always be fed, clothed and sheltered. It was tough for dad to go to work when sick (when he retired, he had two YEARS credit in untaken sick days). I think people place way too much importance on physical toughness and far too little on progressive toughness. And, to be honest, I think that this is what is wrong with Donald Trump. He's physically tough, but his attitude towards helping others is "You're fired!" But, then, Trump is one of the most entitled men around. He's never had to worry about money his whole life. He inherited too much for that. He gets to play with sums of money that I will never be able to work for. That is the lack of toughness in Trump that scares me. I don't care if he was so tough that he could beat up his music teacher. I care if he's tough enough to realize that HE is the entitled one, and that some of the rest of us could really use some of his inherited bounty. And I don't think he has any of that kind of toughness. He's never needed to develop it.
12:29 AM Nov 21st
I'm for the good side!

I want you to stay there a moment, sansho, and ask everyone on BJOL reading to do screen captures, while I tell you that many of us are concerned and anxious about your behavior and plans.

Huh....seems a little dick-ish when you boil it down.

11:33 PM Nov 20th
It's telling, OldBackstop, that you would include the full text of that speech, thinking any fair-minded person would consider it rudeness and harassment. And "paying customer", as though just anyone who comes through the door might get lectured from the stage. We rabble only get a few chances at face-fo-face encounters with those who would govern us, and this man didn't waste it. Good for him. Read the words again. Is there a good or bad side to be on with respect to them? If so, which side are you on?
10:20 PM Nov 20th
There was a man who never said a bad thing about anybody. So to test his resolve someone asked him to say something good about Trump .......

After thinking for quite a while, he said: "Hillary was worse" .......

I think that explains the last election ............
9:59 PM Nov 20th
I think one of the all-time weenie moments this year was the "Hamilton" harassment of Mike Pence. The best characterization I have heard was by Springsteen's guitar player Stevie Vandt Zandt, saying that Pence was a guest and it was "rude." (I'm guessing Stevie has sat through enough political rants from his boss to want to staunch a trend of individual call outs.)

Here is the complete statement of the actor Brandon Victor Dixon, trying to lecture Pence, who fortunately was already exiting. Harassment is the perfect word, saying "hear me out and everyone tweet this" at a paying customer who had already been booed, but note the bolded part:

Thank you so much for joining us tonight. You know, we had a guest in the audience this evening. And Vice President-elect Pence, I see you're walking out but I hope you will hear us just a few more moments. There's nothing to boo here ladies and gentlemen. There's nothing to boo here, we're all here sharing a story of love.

We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out. And I encourage everybody to pull out your phones and tweet and post because this message needs to be spread far and wide, OK?

Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical, we really do. We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us — our planet, our children, our parents — or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.

Again, we truly thank you for sharing this show. This wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men [and] women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.

Well, Dixon et al, if you are concerned and anxious, it is because of the calculated tactical fear mongering of Mr. Pence's adversaries -- not even covert messaging, bashed at all in a overt barrage of media ads. Show me the stated policy of Pence that where he would fail to defend and uphold your inalienable rights.

It would have been nice if their was a nice walk out of Pence supporters, like Amy Scgumer received a few weeks before.

But...fine, I think these little "victories" will further cement America about these arrogant lefties. I can't see where the episode moved the ball for them....Pence is a gracious man who is attending their show despite its politics and they tried to humiliate him.

I await Hillary's appearances at NHL, NASCAR, NRA

9:46 PM Nov 20th
Let's see, Obama has deported more illegal immigants than any president in hisotry.
not that is tough. not tough talk...but tough.
Trump bs about deporting 11 million, rounding them up...tough talk...any bets here?
Trump whined all throughout the campaign, everything is stacked against him...cry cry cry...tough guy, this trump.
Snl comedy skit...cry cry cry...tough guy this Trump.
Obama wins election 2012, loses pop vote...Trump tough talk march on Washington...real tough but no action....Trump settles for 25 million on lawsuit, but tough talk says he never would do that. excuses excuses...he does not even need to show up for the court with all the lawyers that he claims he never will setttle...tough ok.
tough talk..gonna prosecute the women who came out against him...more bs grow up and stop groping women fo christ sake. anyone stupid enough to believe his tough bs? exploits taxes, steel, 'not my fault, you let me?" great american we got there. Insults women and bullies them...ugly, fat, yeah real tough guy...shove it trump...I will protesting more as we go on...get used to it Trump...don't keep crying. Did someone hurt Pences feelings...grow up will ya! This is America, can't handle it,..grow up.
I don't think we will ever see Hillary in Jail? do you...more bs from the tough guy.
gonna pull out of Iran deal...yeah...sure you will.....not after Putin tells you to stop you tough lies and get used to it. Iran has already made it clear, they could care less about the tough talk...they have enough trading partners, anyone want to bet Trump goes along and at best tightens the surveilance...the rest more nonsense tough talk, not shaking Iran one bit. .
never talked about wall to mex pres...after all that tough talk...what a joke. coward tough I guess.
think mex will be paying for any wall. nope...maybe no wall afterall...tough talk bs again. a secret...hear stern, et al. a tough pig maybe okay
9:20 PM Nov 20th
Great moments in presidential campaigns:

TOUGH (Oct. 14, 1912): After being shot in the chest by innkeeper John Schrank, presidential candidate Teddy Roosevelt decided to go through with his speech anyway. He spoke for an hour to a Milwaukee crowd, even pulling the bloodied manuscript of his speech from his pocket to show the crowd. Then the independent candidate wrapped up and went to the hospital.

SENSITIVE (New Hampshire, 1972): Democratic candidate Edmund Muskie is reported to have cried before the press while condemning attacks on his wife, who was accused of drinking heavily and swearing. Muskie later said the water on his face was melted teardrops, but the damage had been done.
8:20 AM Nov 20th
Donald Trump is the opposite of tough - he is a bully who complained publicly about every slight, real or imagined. There are two types of strength. The real one is working through the problems you face, and I admit, and have been saying for years, that the left went too far in making everything that happens to you somebody else's fault. But that is not the "strength" that was at the heart of this election. That "strength" is the right to say whatever you want and, as has been clear to those who were actually paying attention, to DO whatever you want to those who are weaker than you are. So you get the idea put forth by Trump and his son that if women can't deal with men's natural inclination to harass them, they should find a different line of work. If people of color don't like being randomly stopped and frisked by police, or shot because of an imagined danger in their being non-white, they should just shut up or "go back where they came from".

This isn't strength as Bill described it. The abuse he described directed at football players or soldiers, however misdirected, at least had the goal of turning out better players or soldiers. But the current "strength" is the predatory roar of mostly white, mostly men who did not like being told that they had to treat women and minorities as equals.
7:59 AM Nov 20th
I do find it funny we're having this discussion in the wake of a president-elect who tends to see slights everywhere and reacts to them in a very public manner. I mean, yesterday he was seeking an apology for the conduct - I won't object if you call it misconduct - of the cast of a Broadway show toward his VP-elect.
6:43 AM Nov 20th
Hey Bill,

Let me offer my own experience on toughness. I went through US Marine Corps boot camp at Paris Island in September of 1975, just a few months after my brother Rob went through US Army boot camp at Ft. Dix, NJ. Hearing about Rob's experience at Ft. Dix, boot camp did not look too terribly difficult to me. Oh, the Army worked those boys pretty hard, and the New Jersey Pine Barrens was not the most hospitable place in summer. But it seemed that the Army was interested in developing people, rather than weeding them out. Rob and I were raised by a steel worker who was gentle, kind, thoughtful, and absolutely tough as nails. He was a welder and had a pain threshold that had to be seen to be believed. And so the Army didn't look so bad. For example, Rob called home the same day he left, which surprised the heck out of me. After a few weeks of training, he got a Saturday off, so my best friend and I drove down to Jersey from the Lehigh Valley. We picked up Rob, a case of cold Miller's and drove around the Pine Barrens, just like the old days. After five weeks of training.....5 weeks.....Rob came home on a weekend pass. Shoot, I thought Parris Island would be no problem. In reality, it was a different world entirely. We started out with 95 guys and three months later ended up with about 42 Marines still left standing. The physical training was difficult, as you might imagine, but the most difficult thing by far was the beatings. Simply put, we were routinely beaten. And we were beaten for a variety of reasons. For example, if you were a Squad Leader, and someone in your squad screwed up, you were beaten for his mistake. Then your job was to beat him later on. It was altogether brutal. The boot camp sequence in Full Metal Jacket was a representation that was only close to accurate. The brutality wasn't officially sanctioned, of course. In fact, the officers would on occasion come around and do a "hygiene inspection," wink-wink, where we would be lined up in "skivvies" and eyeballed for bruises. So the Drill Instructors would take those of us WITH bruises and hide us in the "head". Marines who got through boot camp at that time can verify this. Me, I didn't like the beatings. I understood the reasoning behind it, but I questioned then and now how effective it was in producing "tough" Marines. I felt that an increase in physical training would probably achieve the same result. Around 1978, or '79, there were MAJOR changes to Marine Corps recruit training. The beatings stopped, and the culture of brutality changed. A LOT of the "Old Salts" predicted the demise of the Marine Corps because of that. The old timers could not see how tough Marines could possibly be developed without wanton brutality. Since then, of course, we've gone through three wars, and produced magnificent Marine Corps warriors.

I apologize for the length of this. I trust you will edit as appropriate. Thank you kindly. ​
3:59 AM Nov 20th
OldBackstop wasn't even a tertiary message, maybe because it would probably poll terribly among focus groups, but Trump was sent to military school for five years by his fed up father because, in Trump's own words, he was "undisciplined."

He graduated as a Captain from New York Military Academy, the highest rank, (and was captain of the baseball team.)

This sounds like I'm writing as a fan, but it just is a comment to toughness in a kid one might assume was soft and privileged and merely a bossy rich brat.
10:32 PM Nov 19th
Toughness without tact is nearly useless. It's not even living, it's enduring.
10:18 PM Nov 19th
Bill, one aspect of toughness I am very familiar with is the quality of enduring all forms of difficulty without complaint. I don’t remember being taught this, not specifically, but for as long as I can remember it was expected of me to 1. Put up with it, 2. Don’t complain, and above all else 3. Be polite.

This has positives, to be sure, but the combination also results in meekness, or at least the appearance and effect of meekness. I had a boss who once told me, “You don’t walk around with the attitude of someone who thinks he deserves anything.” He was right, and that’s a problem.

It’s been a lifelong effort for me to understand that being forthright and direct is not a form of rudeness. At some point…maybe starting in my mid 20’s…I decided that in addition to being considerate of other people there was nothing wrong with flat out stating what I wanted.

Is Trump “tough?” He’s certainly aggressive. He’s certainly not shy. He was tough enough to keep bulling forward. On the other hand I consider him to be a weak man in that he is susceptible to flattery. That makes him easy to manipulate, I would think.

10:07 PM Nov 19th
The media may or may not be liberal or hypocritical or whatever, but what it is above all else now is incompetent.
9:56 PM Nov 19th
It was an awful movie, and there are plenty of others, but Demolition Man's futuristic setting have us all wearing kimonos and getting ticketed for cursing. Screw that.

Isn't this just part of a slow-motion tennis match, between toughness and sensitivity? Once we go too far one way, we bounce back towards the other? Or from outside forces, if we get too wussy, they attack and we either HAVE to get tough or die trying?

I'm not bothered by sensitivity, I'm bothered by a lack of empathy from a large swath of our country. The "me and mine" crowd is emotionally childish.​
9:54 PM Nov 19th
Damn. The Sensitivity / Politically Correct police were making so much progress until this year. Now they've stalled. And just when I was right on the verge of moving up from a hillbilly to an Appalachian-American.
9:52 PM Nov 19th
Regarding the toughness to sensitivity progression of America: It's a natural difference from generations that endured a harsh environment to generations that have never experienced hardship. It's probably as simple as that.
9:35 PM Nov 19th

In 2015, "racism" and the other "isms" equal 1955 "communism."

Donald Trump has nearly zero redeeming characteristics, but if there is one, it is his ability to put that smirk on and dismiss the people trying to employ "isms" as a political smear.

That takes toughness and fortitude and self-confidence, to stand up against virtually the entire media and call them out for the biased hypocrites they are.

Good for him. Flawed as he is, maybe he'll be the one to bring down the McCarthyism of our era.
9:24 PM Nov 19th
Even if we stipulated that Donald Trump personally is no good at pushing through difficulty ...

It would 100% miss the point of the article. Trump's personal toughness has very little to do with the key theme here.


The far left wing would happy to see a continuation of the PC rules that say "if we don't like what you are saying, we will roll out the -ism cudgel."

The question is whether AMERICA has reached the point at which the far left has cried "WOLF!" on racism one too many times. That is the question at hand. What the 50th-percentile voter thinks.

- Jeff

8:40 PM Nov 19th

Hey Bill, I love you dearly. Your ideas on baseball (and everything else) always get my mind moving and challenge me, the highest compliment I could give. I have read nearly every word you have ever published, and I will continue to do so regardless of topic. And it is only because I love you that I will say the following, paraphrased from my all-time favorite writer:

The world needs another rich old white guy take on the scourge of sensitivity/'political correctness' and this election like Custer needed more Indians (or, for that matter, like the Indians needed another Custer)... What we really need is for the Facebook Uncles to clear the floor.

Best regards, RyanTheMover
8:16 PM Nov 19th
It's important to note that, in a world where all public behavior is instantaneously knowable, particular behaviors by specific people will be singled out, shared, and held up as emblematic. Triumphalist name-calling is the flip side of the "sniveling" coin, but know there is a significant (and now that the cards are on the table, hopefully ascendant) element in leftist political America that does not snivel, but gets back to work.
6:56 PM Nov 19th
I was involved with a discussion on Electoral College on Facebook that included this conversation (it was someone else's post - I didn't know the person below):

JAMES: 3 million illegals voted

ME: What's the source of that number?

JAMES: Proven by election officials

ME: Nonsense. I haven't seen anything remotely like that at all.

JAMES: Enough with the crybabying.

6:52 PM Nov 19th
I won't quibble with Bill's analysis here, in part because I've had an essay of my own in mind for a while, and might actually write it now. But I suppose somebody has to be the first to say this: the notion that Donald Trump "doesn't make excuses" is contradicted by the many, many, many, many, many excuses he's actually made. It's almost as if Bill was watching an entirely different campaign for the last six months than the one I was watching.
6:51 PM Nov 19th
Bill: your description of toughness, your father, and his generation is spot-on. My father was in the army in 1920's, bummed around looking for work during the early years of the depression, then finally got a 'permanent' job before getting all-expenses paid trips to Bougainville and Guam in WWII. My dad came back to his old job and very very seldom called in sick for work. He was very happy to have employment and getting up and going to work no matter what, was the norm at that time, and expected of men. I think most of the presidents prior to Clinton were like that. I don't recall LBJ, Nixon, etc., sniveling about things or even showing much feeling at all. Carter did give his malaise speech, which made Carter look weak in many eyes. Reagan certainly portrayed a toughness. Clinton was famous for "I'll feel your pain" and other shibboleths. I think people still want a tough leader - but probably not with the histrionics of a Patton. The left have shown the opposite of your 'toughness' description with their constant whining and sniveling after losing the last election.
6:33 PM Nov 19th
We certainly know that Hillary Clinton is tough. Nobody in our nation's history has been the target of more for-profit invective than she has. I've always said that many of Bill Clinton's media enemies not-so-secretly admired his womanizing, but no such sentiment was afforded his wife. When it became clear she was not going to help bring him down, she became Enemy #1 of the talk-radio screamers and their ilk, and they've been going after her non-stop for 25 years.
5:52 PM Nov 19th
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