Morning Reading – Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Eight days remain before we close the door on the year 2020.
On the night before Christmas, my father would leave a cigar and a drink on the mantel for Santa. (This was Greenwich Village.) In the morning, while I pillaged the presents, I never failed to notice that the cigar had been smoked down to the butt. And the brandy in the glass was all gone.
“There is no option to get tired. There is no option to sit down and say ‘I’m sorry, I’ve had enough,’ ” he said. When fatigued, he recalled, he would tell himself: “I’m gonna dig deep and just suck it up.”
As we await Trump’s Christmas pardons, with the expectation that many will be self-serving and injurious to the pursuit of justice, the intertwined tales of Taft and Nixon help explain why, after two centuries, we are still so vulnerable to bad pardons, a power that the Framers left unchecked.
Unlike Trump’s branding, which used a sledgehammer of aggressive, repetitive, messaging, the Biden design team reached key demographics with the precision of a scalpel.
When I started graduate school, my adviser told me that the best work would prune the tree of knowledge, rather than grow it. I didn’t know what to make of this message then; I always thought my job as a researcher was to add my own twigs. But over my career, as I had the opportunity to apply this philosophy in my own work, I began to understand.