People bemoan the divisions that exist in America today. On a recent trip to New York City it took a New York minute (actually seven minutes) to show the grand demarcation that has occurred and it is more like a rupture.
We were recently in New York to celebrate my wife’s birthday when the encounter happened. My wife follows from afar the social scene in New York with her principle source of information being the New York Social Diary which she reads daily. The creator and editor of the Diary, David Patrick Columbia, usually lunches on Wednesday at Michael’s restaurant, the East Coast version of Michael McCarty’s famous Santa Monica restaurant through which a significant portion of America’s great chefs have graduated. It is also the place to have lunch on Wednesday in NYC and be seen. Great food and my wife’s chance to meet the man who writes the Diary -- sounds fine to me.
After my wife schmoozed McCarty who introduced her to Mr. Columbia, she returned to our table. When we walked out we passed by Columbia’s table which was needless to say in prime turf. While wife person was once more chatting up the King of the Diary, I cordially introduced myself to his lunch mate, Jesse Kornbluth. I had no knowledge of the man, but when we walked out seven minutes later I turned to my wife and stated there would be a column from that conversation.
Mr. Kornbluth runs a website, HeadButler.com, but is more prominently known as a contributing editor to Vanity Fair in addition to writing for publications like the Huffington Post. He is the author of a couple of books which gives him some street cred, but he dropped on me that he has written liner notes for Paul Simon albums so I figured he had some socially redeeming value.
I mentioned I was also a writer to which he asked for whom I write. Understand that Kornbluth, through his physical being, body language and attitude, had established himself as a New York Intellectual. If I told him I wrote for Slate but lived on the West Coast, he would most likely look down on me. After all most New York “intellectuals” think like Woody Allen about Los Angeles, “I don't want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light.” When I told him I wrote for Townhall.com, he appeared to conclude he was speaking with a Neanderthal who would be a subject of study.
I would never bring up politics in this situation so when he asked me what I had recently written I kept it soft and told him about my Jewish Joy of Christmas Music column. He then launched into a conversation about music, but soon went back to politics. He asked about my choice for 2016 to which I told him I was only focused on 2014. I give him credit; he is a reporter so he burrowed in until he I finally told him my first choice would be Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin. If I would have told him St. Michael I am confident he would have come back with a negative analysis, but he stated Walker would be the next Governor to go down. As it turns out, the malicious legal maneuvers against him were thrown out of court two days later. Then he told me of how the despicable Paul Gigot (Editorial page editor for the Wall Street Journal) had moved in down the hall from his apartment. He stated his wife was slipping detailed statements under the door of Mr. Gigot fact checking the editorial page. I thought of asking him where Jill Abramson (New York Times editor) lived so I could do the same to her as their editorial page is regularly guilty of the sin of omission and a good bit of distortion.
I thought the matter ended when we walked out, but my wife had received an email from Kornbluth, where he said he enjoyed meeting, etc. He also went back to politics, asking her to forward information to me as he was digging in on the sins of Scott Walker. After I replied to him I was fully aware of the Walker charges he invoked the #1 point in the liberal playbook today: the creators of all evil (now that George W. Bush is in retirement) – yes, you guessed it -- the Koch Brothers. When I suggested that beating up on the Kochs was a little passé and sent him another column of mine that might assuage his partisan concerns, he came back with detailed research of how the Kochs have weaved their way to control our political system. After he launched into a commentary about money in politics, I pointed out that Democrats seem to be very capable money raisers, which obviously includes our Cash-Register-in-Chief, Mr. Obama (although I did not state that to him as I stayed above any negative comments.)
After a couple more emails, Mr. Kornbluth let me know he was abandoning our dialogue and went on a long denunciation of my political beliefs which he had surmised from our short conversation and a few emails. I responded by telling him he needed me because I was quite confident he never interacts with someone like me (I am sure Gigot keeps his door locked), and it would be nice to actually experience another point of view. He went on to invoke the two issues that burn in every liberal’s heart – global warming and abortion, despite neither being connected to our conversation.
The question thus becomes how we can breach the divide when even the smart members of the left-wing intelligentsia will not dialogue and will only stoop to ad hominem attacks on the Kochs and blaming all evils on abortion and global warming? There is little hope when you cannot have an ongoing civil conversation. Jesse, I am here and you need me.