Balbatish: The Art of Decent Living

My mother had a yiddish word that she used only for very selective people.  The word is “balbatish” and it translates into the English adjective of meaning quiet, respected and well-mannered.  My mother would roll over in her grave if she could witness the continually shrinking pool of people who today, could be considered the balabatim.

We have politicians, national leaders no less, calling each other such derogatory names.  There are no limits to what political mouths will spout when it comes down to winning at the polls.  Both parties are guilty of this shame.  Perhaps Lesley Gore had it right:

The Republicans and Democrats alike should be sobbing in their soup for deserting the high road when it comes to personal and professional behavior.  Not only are these actions just downright base, but they prevent these public officials from doing the jobs they were hired to do.  The month of July holds a huge agenda for Congress.  But why should this month be different from any other month?  Congress took over a year to pass some semblance of financial reform.  Just last week, the Senate Judicial Committee put off the vote on Elena Kagan.  They said they needed another week to read all of the information on her.  Puh-leese: the GOP needed another week to pool their venom against President Obama, market it and apply it to Kagan’s nomination.

Have you noticed that when faced with major legislation, such as health care reform, financial stimulus package and new financial regulation, the GOP always says “We need more time”, as if delaying the vote would make people forget about our urgent need for the new laws?  This week the GOP made their hypocrisy as obvious as the nose on their face when they, in their supposed antipathy for budget deficits, took a hit.  It appears that the extension of unemployment benefits are poison for our deficit, yet the reduction/elimination of  the Bush tax cuts are not really important in reducing the deficit.  Furthermore, the cost of  unemployment benefits is just a fraction of the amount of the Bush tax cut cost.  Their agenda exists singularly to promote the rich.  The GOP, saddled with no real agenda, resorts to those historical principles that they have always embraced: advantages for the rich and no riches for the disadvantaged.  The Republicans are ideologically broke.  They got nothing.  As a result, they turn to mean language, using such terms as Nazi and Socialist, to personify their opponents.  They stoop to the lowest common denominator in their political repartee.

The Democrats are no better.  They have not supported their President because the believe that the new legislation does not go far enough.  Hey —- remember the citizens for whom you work?  Quit your dicking around and fulfill your job descriptions.  Our leaders of both parties show no signs of being balbatim.

Today in the New York Times, Frank Rich (Who would have thought that he was a Member of the Tribe?!) addresses this meanness of purpose by writing about the pathology of Mel Gibson.  The man is a bigot and a total mental case.  That said, his shenanigans of the last decade ultimately served a very good purpose: to shed light on the repulsiveness of those ideas, make Americans realize how offensive, divisive and ridiculous such ideas are and then finally, to spur us on to act differently.  Gibson’s film “The Passion of Christ”, along with his verbal outbursts against Jews and African-Americans, has shaken us to see just how senseless such beliefs and behavior are.  I find some solace in these off-balanced people’s recurrent tantrums.  Gibson is finished in his profession.

Sarah Palin is another example of using her strongly held, immoveable beliefs to hypocritically raise herself above others.  Her stance on teenage sexual abstinence, her contention that she is just a regular Mom and her steadfastness to family values is just a bunch of hooey.  Eventually, these hurtful, bigoted beliefs of Gibson and Palin came back around and bit them right in the ass.  Moreover, their verbal assaults on those that disagree with them only serve to drive home even deeper the foolishness and small-mindedness of their ways.  So ignorance and rash prejudice does have somewhat of a purpose.

In fact, one of the only persons who has exhibited a certain savoir faire, a definite flair for being balbatish, is Barack Obama.  First and foremost, he has a deep respect for himself.  Along with his huge intellectual capacity and his obvious dedication to his family (He actually sits down to dinner every night with his daughters and wife, unlike our Sarah who is gallivanting across the globe to keep herself garbed in designer fashions.  Actions speak so much louder than words.), he would never stoop as low as his GOP and Democratic rivals have to denounce an administration that currently holds power.  Some believe President Obama’s mien is elitist, too regal, even too emotionally removed.  They are wrong in their interpretation.  The President just has a very healthy dose of an accepted, admired and correct personal code of behavior, and he lives by that code.  He might not be able to reform Washington in all of its unbridled and proud dysfunction, but he sure as hell can set the example of what a leader should be and how he should comport himself.  This is called decorum.  This is called, in the vernacular, being a mensch.  Barack Obama is the picture of balbatish.

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One Response to “Balbatish: The Art of Decent Living”

  1. NatalieR Says:

    Frank Rich I am proud, surprised too, to say a member of the tribe is simply astoundingly wonderful. His column today is well worth the time to read. Between Dowd and him I am astounded by the cerebral heft of both. They are, in my opinion, the best of the best that editorial journalism has to offer!

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