Good morning, it’s Monday, Sept. 6, 2021. Today is Labor Day, and although it seems incongruous that a day celebrating work is a holiday, this year it’s doubly paradoxical: Some 7 million out-of-work Americans are losing their jobless pay today, as the federal programs designed to get the country through the COVID lockdowns are expiring.
It may be time for that, at least insofar as the economy is concerned, since employers are having difficulty filling vacant jobs. But the coronavirus pandemic is hardly over.
Today I’m reprising a historical homily I’ve written previously. Twenty-six years ago today, Baltimore Orioles star Cal Ripken played in his 2,131st consecutive major league game, surpassing a record set by Lou Gehrig that was once considered unassailable.
First, I’d point you to our front page, which aggregates, as it does each day, columns and stories spanning the political spectrum. Today’s edition includes Juan Williams on the resilience of organized labor (The Hill); Nathan Gonzales on Joe Biden’s standing with the American people (Roll Call); and Maria Reppas on being a “limousine liberal” who sends her kinds to private school (USA Today). We also offer a complement of original material from RCP reporters and contributors, including the following:
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Texas’ Abortion Gambit Is Politically Insane. Bill Scher argues that Republicans could see the new law undermine their chances of retaking Congress in 2022.
The Buck Stops With Somebody. In the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, I consider how well, or poorly, Joe Biden has followed Harry Truman’s dictum about accountability.
Lessons From 20 Years of War Against Jihadism. Peter Berkowitz’s take is here.
Honor Labor Leaders Who Won Citizenship for Puerto Ricans. George Laws Garcia urges passage of the Puerto Rico Statehood Admissions Act as a fitting salute to the men who garnered basic rights for residents of the island more than a century ago.
Nevada Leans Into “Public Option” Coercion. At RealClearPolicy, James Capretta predicts that hospitals and physicians will push back against forced price controls enacted by the state.
Chinese Amino Acids a Threat to U.S. Food Supply. Also at RCPolicy, Ike Bannon warns that the CCP could wield the export of amino acids — used as a supplement in feed for livestock — as a strategic weapon, as it has done with other critical materials.
Why Biden Asked OPEC to Increase Its Production. At RealClearEnergy, Steve Milloy asserts that that the initiative isn’t aimed at reducing prices.
The Case for Student-First Curricula. At RealClearEducation, Kevin Chavous advocates providing students with the independence to infuse their personal interests and passions into their lesson plans.
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Cal Ripken’s ironman feat came one season after the World Series had been canceled due to a confluence of factors that included the owners’ greed, the commissioner’s cowardice, and the players’ obliviousness to their own sport’s historical traditions. The following season, as a counterweight the massive ill-will this had caused, the baseball gods offered fans two remedies: The beauty of the game itself and the unsurpassed work ethic of Calvin Edwin Ripken Jr.
In the fifth inning of the Sept. 6, 1995, Orioles’ game against the visiting California Angels — when the game became official — Ripken took a victory lap around the stadium while receiving a 22-minute standing ovation. That night, Cal also went 2 for 4, including a home run, while leading the hometown team to a win. Among those in attendance at sold-out Camden Yards were President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, both of whom visited the Orioles’ clubhouse before the game. I was there, too, as was an accomplished amateur photographer named Tipper Gore. (I covered the White House for the Baltimore Sun then and had drawn “pool duty” that night, so Tipper, God bless her heart, took a picture of me and Cal standing side-by-side on his big occasion.)
There was a larger picture in play that night, and Bill Clinton was astute enough to see it. He spoke several times about the important symbolic nature of the occasion as he took to using baseball as a metaphor for all that was good in America.
Baseball binds Americans of different regions, races, and generations, Clinton observed, and “teaches us to play as hard as we can and still be friends when the game is over, to respect our differences, and to be able to lose with dignity as well as win with joy.”
As for Ripken’s record, Clinton would invoke this lesson many times:
“While baseball provides role models, it also helps us recognize these American values in everyday life,” said the 42nd U.S. president. “I saw a story about … a bus driver who hadn’t missed a day’s work in 18 years. Had it not been for Cal Ripken, we would never have had the opportunity to meet this wonderful man or to appreciate the hard work that he and millions and millions of other Americans do every day just by showing up for work.”
Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics