Friday, October 28, 2016

The Main Activities of My Life in Several Posts

[I] Woodwork and Philosophy
   Until I became dean of the College of Arts and Science at Northwestern at the age of 47, the two dozen or so years after college were devoted to two main occupations: philosophy and woodwork. Woodwork was the earliest. I was really young when I started, back in Heidelberg, with projects for a Laubsäge, a fretsaw, encouraged by my mother who held that working with your hands was a good thing.
   Woodwork continued with shop in junior high school in New York, where I became particularly fond of woodturning and produced a number of projects, some quite fancy. These experiences led me to apply to Brooklyn Tech, an all-city high school. There I took the Mechanical Course for its shops, though most of those turned out to be concerned with metal rather than wood.
   After high school came a year in the Navy, followed by three at Columbia College. It was a time that kept me away from woodwork, but introduced me to philosophy. The college had no majors in those days; instead, one had to earn a certain number of  so-called Maturity Credits to be prevented from taking an excess of introductory courses. Given this scheme, I took enough courses in philosophy to graduate with honors in that subject.
   But that was not the end of it. I spent a year traveling in Europe, courtesy of a Henry Evans Travelling Fellowship  awarded by Columbia to my close friend Carl Hovde and me. When I returned, I applied for an advertised job with the Voice of America that, alas, the government never funded. When I visited the chairman of the philosophy department at the end of the summer of my return, just to say “hello,” he gave me a little lecture. “Rather than shelving books in the library,” a job I could actually get, “why don’t you sign up for graduate work in philosophy?”
   Professor Gutmann, that department chairman, put his money where his mouth is. Without consulting a committee, he awarded me a small fellowship and instructed the graduate admissions officer to admit me to Columbia’s Graduate School.
   That was in 1951. With a two-year interruption, I was a graduate student until 1959 when I received my doctorate and left for my first full time teaching job as assistant professor of philosophy at San Francisco State College (as it was then). With this paragraph I conclude the story of how philosophy came into my life. So, back to woodwork.
    I actually never really stopped. I got some small pieces of handsome wood, such as purplish Brazilian rosewood and greenish lignum vitae, and, sitting at the kitchen table, carved pieces of jewelry. Not an unqualified success, not only because of their somewhat clumsy appearance, but because of their weight. However, things soon got better.
   After our first San Francisco year in a rented house, we were able to buy an old but solid one, where I was able to set up a shop in the basement. After a year or so, philosophy came to the aid of my woodwork. (Yes, really!) When the Wesleyan University Press published my doctoral dissertation, they generously, gave me an advance of $350 (equal to $488 in 2016). Rather then buying a better couch for the living room and with the blessings of my wife, Fannia, I invested the entire windfall in a Shopsmith, a multipurpose woodworking tool that includes, above all, a lathe.
   So, from 1959 until 1974, my chief occupations were teaching philosophy and writing in the field—another book and a dozen or so articles. (I also got a taste of academic administration—the subject of a later post—by serving as chairperson of the philosophy departments of San Francisco State and Vassar College.)
   But that Shopsmith also got a workout. I kept it humming—or rattling—mostly but not exclusively—with turning project, producing bowls, plates or trays, candlesticks—all from different woods and in different sizes. I think I spent almost as much time in my shop as I did in my study.
   My recalling this last fact the other day led me to ask the question as to whether my devoting so much time and energy to working in wood wrongly detracted from my pursuing my career in philosophy, which was after all my profession in the most obvious way in that it was the way I earned my living. Surprisingly, I had never thought about it before, but I now have and have arrived at something of an answer.
   Let me begin with the easy part. I always prepared carefully for my classes. I was a good teacher; certainly not a great one. (To achieve the status of the latter, as I have written elsewhere, more is needed than a solid grasp of the material to be taught and conscientious attention to pedagogy.) I was much helped by the fact that we were not a high powered graduate department, but only taught courses up to the level of a master’s degree.
   This last fact also made a huge difference concerning  what is usually just called “research,” consisting in philosophy of scholarship and/or writing articles and books on subjects of current philosophical issues. My modest output, summarized above, would not, in several ways, have been adequate in a decent university philosophy department, but it was greater than that of the average of the San Francisco State College faculty. Yet it must also be said that my talent for philosophy was a quite limited one. What I wrote was adequate; the articles are in refereed journals. But there are no signs there of deep insights or of significant originality. As is revealed by the casual way in which I launched into graduate work, I was not driven to be a philosopher.
   Not surprisingly, I did not have any ambitions to change the level of the station in which I found myself. Moreover, I valued my freedom to engage in pursuits of several kinds.
   A final word on woodwork. From the time I arrived at Vassar until I left for Mexico, 44 years later, most of my work with wood was sculpting. I don't know how many such piece I produced; I was terrible about keeping track of them. Some are in Mark's house, others are here in Mexico, but a much larger number was given away, some to friends, many "sold" (for a song) to people I did not even know. Fifty of them were hanging around the house when I was packing up for Mexico. I do not have pictures of all of them and the photos I do have are, disorderly, in different boxes. My shabby treatment of this trove is one of my great regrets. It is an unfortunate function of the fact that I have a much greater interest in making things than in possessing them.

   I have engaged in three different kinds of activties, in addition to woodwork and philosophy.  From the middle of my teens, I became an aficionado of classical music, with choral singing for many years my only active participation. Writing early became an occupation almost for its own sake and after my decade and a half stint as professor of philosophy, administration in the academic world was my main occupation almost until I retired at the age of 67. I have not yet written about these activities, but before long, an account of them will follow this post.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Advertisements for Myself: a Review of One of My Books

Fitting Form to Function: Reviewed by Paula M. Krebs1
From a critical examination of an important movement in higher education, I turn to a critical examination of institutional structure in higher education. And I ask myself, how have I worked in higher education so long without having read Rudolph H. Weingartner’s Fitting Form to Function: A Primer on the Organization of Academic Institutions before? This slim paperback, originally published by the American Council on Education in 1996, appeared in a second edition in 2011 with revisions that take account of the increasing reliance on contingent faculty and the increasing role of the university general counsel as well as new material on educational technology and community colleges.
Weingartner, professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, served as dean of arts and sciences at Northwestern University and provost at Pitt, and his lively, insightful, and often funny descriptions of the various aspects of college and university structure are going to be something I return to again and again. The book’s title and a table of contents that lists chapters on the office of the president, the central administration and the faculty, the office of the dean, the office of the provost, and other administrative offices might lead you to believe that the volume is a summary of the activity that goes on in each section of the campus—and that would be a valuable thing in and of itself. Each chapter does describe the functions of the office it introduces, to be sure, but the value of this volume is its careful, ethical work, in each chapter, on the core topic of decision making. Weingartner is committed to helping his readers, from the faculty and administrative ranks, understand the implications of various campus structures for the decisions that are made on campus. His philosopher’s approach means that he takes us very carefully through the ramifications of reporting structures: if the athletic director reports to the dean of students, that assumes (and ensures) one kind of role for athletics on a campus; if the AD reports to the vice president for business and finance, a different kind of accountability is in order; and still another set of assumptions about autonomy and external relations operates if the AD reports directly to the president.
Weingartner’s twenty-seven guiding maxims run the gamut from statements that seem obvious, although they may not always happen in practice (Maxim 4: “Supervising is work, calling for the dedication of time, energy, and know-how”), to ones that take a little more thought (Maxim 10: “The whole is both greater and less than the sum of its parts: neither an institution’s budget, plan, nor aspirations can be constructed out of those of its constituent parts”). The maxims stand alone at the beginning of the volume, but they’re also illustrated organically throughout the chapters of the book.
The book’s weakness is similar to the weakness of the other volumes, though, in that it doesn’t consider faculty as an asset—or much at all, actually. Nor does it give much attention to the differences between types of higher education institutions. Decision-making structures are the key to understanding how institutions function, to be sure, but community colleges, research universities, and small religious colleges, for example, must start from different assumptions.
This volume’s attention to decision-making structures directs us to consider the implications for institutional governance of every aspect of campus administration. Weingartner is ruthless on the topic of meaningless consulting mechanisms and administrative micromanagement, and he is equally hard on faculty senates that do not engage a wide spectrum of their faculty but instead rely on career campus politicians. He gives thoughtful consideration to the effect on campus governance of every aspect of campus structure, focusing on what he defines as the three types of campus decisions: the Consultative Decision, in which the faculty has the least power to determine an outcome; the Codeterminative Decision, in which the faculty gives both advice and consent; and the All-But- Determinative Decision, in which faculty members make decisions that administrators may overrule only in extreme cases and for explicitly stated strong reasons. Which structure is in use on your campus for which issue?
Every faculty member who wants to understand how decisions are made on campus should invest in this volume. I will be ordering copies for my campus AAUP chapter as a parting gift from a past president. And I will be keeping this one myself, to refer to often as I learn the structures of my own new campus.
1Paula M. Krebs is a professor of English at Wheaton College and a former faculty editor of Academe, and is now dean of humanities and social sciences at Bridgewater State University. The Review appeared in the Bulletin of the AAUP, September-October, 2012    

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Find Out Where You Stand

The Deceptive Simplicity of Pure Ideologies
A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette op ed of June 1911
Congress, someone points out every day, appears to be almost wholly polarized: with liberals on one side and conservatives on the other. But many suspect, sometimes backed up by one poll or another, that the rest of the country is not so bifurcated, that countless citizens of ours have not been captured by one or another ideology but merely lean this way or that, everywhere harboring reservations.
Rather than try to compete with pollsters by also counting noses, I’ve devised a simple test that might help readers know just where they stand on that continuum and, by inference, others of our countrymen. Answering my questions may tell you what you already know; but you also might learn something about yourself that had been veiled, obscured.
First, two cautions. I am not dealing here with contentious cultural or social issues, such as abortion, but only economic ones. My little test is mighty crude; the reader must judge whether it is better than nothing.
Let me begin by describing a fictional, utopian United States where [a] everyone who wants to work and is able to do so has a job; [b] everyone has access to competent health care; [c] the elderly and the handicapped are not left destitute; [d] the country’s budget is usually in balance.
My test is aimed at those who agree that each of these four conditions constitutes a good thing, even if they doubt that they are attainable. You are now invited to state what you are willing or not willing to have the government do to bring us closer to such a desirable society.
Regarding [a], jobs, give yourself three points if you think the government should create public jobs to keep down unemployment; two points if the government should spend money to stimulate the economy; one point if the market should be left to solve employment problems.
Regarding [b], health care, three points for a single-payer system like Canada’s; two points for government to subsidize health insurance as needed; one point for government to provide, at most, vouchers for private health care.
Regarding [c], Social Security, three points for raising the payroll tax to preserve the retirement disability system; two points for increasing the age of eligibility; one point for privatization.
Regarding [d], the budget, three points for raising taxes to balance it; two points for raising taxes and cutting government spending; one point for reducing spending only.
The highest score possible is 12 points, representing dyed-in-the-wool liberals, strong believers in an active government. The lowest score possible is three points, representing staunch conservatives who believe in the smallest government possible.
Now note that there remains a considerable range of nine steps between the poles. Indeed, while I have always thought of myself as a committed liberal, my position turns out not to be that pure.
For jobs, I get two points for government stimulus. For health care, I would be happy with subsidies, another two points. For Social Security, I’m for some tax increase together with upping the age of eligibility, giving me two and a half points. Finally, to balance the budget, I also take the middle ground: both raise taxes and reduce spending, for another two points. That comes to eight and a half points — a wishy-washy liberal, far from a pure liberal’s 12.
What’s true of me might well be true of you; indeed, a sizeable fraction of the voting population likely hold positions far from either extreme. Let’s let Congress know.

Rudolph Weingartner is a University of Pittsburgh professor emeritus of philosophy ( The second edition of his “Fitting Form to Function: A Primer on the Organization of Academic Institutions” will be published in June.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

When Hillary Clinton is President

 It is now virtually certain that Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States. That prediction presumably comes true in four weeks. Just four weeks! Even though I read a fair bit about US politics, I’ve seen nothing, neither good advice or bad, about what is expected to happen next—after Clinton has received the majority of electoral votes and become president elect. Nor have I seen advice as to what she is to do during that period before being sworn in and during her first months in office.
   I attribute this dual lack to the great limit of my reading (subjective) but also to the fact that everyone is caught up in the Clinton-Trump pursuit of victory on November 8 (objective).
   But what about the day after and during the four years after that? Isn’t it time to comment about that future? There is a huge cluster of issues vastly more important than the who said what to whom chit chat that is now prologue to the election, with its outcome virtually foregone.
    My first comment about this narrow focus is the stuffy one that deplores the limited future of the views of the punditry. The reply will surely be that we are journalists, with the job of writing and commenting about what is going on now; we are neither historians, talking about how that came about, nor is it our job to predict the future—as distinguished from telling us what the polls and other current events portend about the future. Nor are we in the business of advising what various actors should be doing tomorrow and the day after.

   I certainly have a lot of opinions about what Hillary Clinton should do when she is president and I expect that I will make use of my blog to give expression to them. For now, however, I will wait with the rest of commentators for the confirmation that the United States will have, for the first time, a woman as the country’s president.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Endless Articles about Trump

Since the piece below was published, the tape in which Trump brags about his sexual successes, released by the Washington Post, has produced a firestorm of responses. It has induced  Republican politicians to withdraw their support for him and/or to urging him to withdraw his candidacy (you should live so long). And it has produced a firestorm of articles, none of which conforms to the Barnum dictum, discussed below, that there is no touch thing as bad publicity. Let me add, irrelevantly, that I look forward to journalism PT, post Trump.

Regarding Trump, a Modest (and Short) Proposal
   Ignoring the fact that regarding Donald Trump there may be no such thing as a modest proposal, here, in any case, is a suggestion. I made a brief visit to the internet and quickly came up with a count of more than a dozen publications—mostly newspapers, a few magazines—that came out in editorials to say explicitly that they are against the election of Trump as president of the United States.1 Interestingly, the list includes a few outfits that have not ever or only very rarely made an editorial recommendation for the presidency. Nor does it count the pro-Hillary Clinton editorials that I did not survey.
   The point I want to make does not depend on the number of such journals, as long as you understand that my count includes a healthy proportion of the biggies, such as the Washington Post and the paper I read on my computer, The New York Times.
   What about these publications, other than that they are not for Trump? Without having made a survey, I assert that most of them are nevertheless helping the man they are so against. On the one hand, as just discussed, they oppose. But on the other, they give him publicity, almost endlessly, by daily printing numerous articles about him. I count six of them in the Times of October 6, by way of example.
  Many of these are of course not at all favorable. But recall what P.T. Barnum is reported to have said; and he was a master showman a century and a half ago: There is no such thing as bad publicity.
   He was probably right way back then and is likely to be right today. Moreover, Donald  J. Trump himself seems to agree with Barnum’s dictum, since his budget for television ads is considerably smaller than Hillary’s.  His opponents are in effect helping him.
   I am in firm agreement with those Not Trump editorials and will cast my vote for Hillary Clinton. But let me draw the obvious conclusion from the above account. To ye endless scribblers about Donald Trump: Silence is Golden. I impatiently await the period—not yet, but sure to come—when Trump-empty publications will once again be the norm.
PS The above was written before the October 8 publication of the tape that has Trump Bragging About Groping Women.2 That one sure didn’t help him. Take that, Mr. Barnum.
1Here is a selection of these:

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

When Music in America Became American Music

This is one of my favorite Pittsburgh Post-Gazette op eds. I hope to be forgiven for posting it again.

The Next Page: The sound of American music
Sunday, September 23, 2007
By Rudolph H. Weingartner
American music: What is it? Who made it? Where did it come from?
It's a sprawling, contentious question. But I am talking about the decades that began around the first World War, when it became meaningful to speak of distinctively American music.

Rudolph H. Weingartner (, a professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, is a former board member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. His most recent book is "A Sixty-Year Ride Through the World of Education" (Hamilton/Rowman & Littlefield).

Of course, the music that was written then built on its American and European forebears. But the changes introduced were so powerful that they dominated American music for quite some time. More correctly, I should say American musics, in the plural, since there is hardly a single strain.
I leave out the rich world of jazz, since it would call for more extensive treatment than there is room here. Instead, I want to focus on three other genres. Going from the bottom up -- speaking as a snooty member of the cultural elite -- there are what are most simply called popular songs; then there are the musicals of Broadway; and, finally, the kind of music played by symphony orchestras, recitalists and ensembles in the likes of Carnegie Hall, all known by the misleading term of "classical music."
I've been listening to music for most of my life -- actually listening, not just hearing. And sometimes I even think about what I heard. Thinking about these genres, I came to a mildly startling conclusion, though the facts have been plain to see all my life: Three giants who dominated the American musical landscape were Jews from Eastern Europe, one actually born there, the other two in Brooklyn not long after their parents' passage through Ellis Island.

God bless Irving Berlin
Starting at the "bottom," it is hard to trump Irving Berlin, although that was not the name he was born with, in 1888, in the town of Tyumen, just east of the Ural Mountains, arriving here when he was 5. (Other sources name different towns.) The son of a cantor, he was then Israel Isadore Baline (that last name an immigration official's transcription of Beilin), the youngest of a large Yiddish-speaking family.
While I found no record just when Israel became Irving, the move to Berlin came about through a mistake. In 1906, the 18-year-old wrote the lyrics for "Marie of Sunny Italy" to a melody by a fellow entertainer at the Pelham Cafe in Chinatown. But when the song was published, the printer put "I. Berlin" on the cover. It would have brought bad luck to the author not to keep the name that gave him his first broader recognition.
Most of us know much of the greater accomplishments that would follow. What we might not know is that at the beginning of his long career, Irving Berlin succeeded as a wordsmith, and only when he was prodded did he compose the melody of his next song.
That prod lasted. From "Alexander's Ragtime Band," Berlin's first big-time success, to "Always," "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better," "How Deep Is the Ocean" and "White Christmas" (and many, many more), Irving Berlin wrote both words and music.
It is often noted that Berlin never learned to read notes and that a special piano was built for him that allowed him to play melodies in keys that he otherwise couldn't play since he could play in only one key. But I like to observe another fact: the lyrics and melodies he wrote could not be more distant from the Yiddish he spoke as a child and the cantorial and Eastern European tunes on which he was brought up.
For me, the highlight is Berlin's hymn-like "God Bless America." I empathize with those who want to make that song our national anthem, as more singable and less belligerent than our current one. Were that ever to happen, it would be the zenith of the story of Israel Isadore Beilin that began somewhere in Russia or Belarus.
The rhapsody on George Gershwin
Our second innovator who influenced the course of American music managed to steer an unprecedented course between pops and "classical" music and between musical and opera. Jacob Gershowitz was born in 1898 in Brooklyn, but his father, who had emigrated from Russia, soon changed his name to Gershwin; the transformation of Jacob into George somehow followed.
Like Berlin, George Gershwin got an early start, writing a commercially successful song when he was 19 and making his first big hit with "Swanee" when he was 21. The words were by his brother Ira -- who came to write the words to much of George's lyrical output -- and the song's success benefited greatly from being sung by superstar Al Jolson (born in Lithuania as Asa Yoelson).
Gershwin, who died at 38, was prolific, with a large output of works for the stage and the concert hall. As exemplified by the work everyone knows, "Rhapsody in Blue" (of 1924), Gershwin was the first to combine -- perhaps interweave is a better term -- classical compositional techniques with jazz and pop.
Again, no trace of an Eastern European heritage in that unique Gershwin mix. An anecdote is told about the Austrian-born composer Arnold Schoenberg, whom Gershwin was said to have asked for lessons in composition. "I would only make you a second-rate Schoenberg, and you are such a good Gershwin already." (The anecdote is also told with Gershwin seeking instruction from the French composer Maurice Ravel and receiving the same complimentary refusal. Take your pick.)
It is worth mentioning that the jazz -- which is, after all, perhaps the most American of musics -- on which Gershwin leaned had also been changing. It became much freer and improvisational than it had been when still closer to the band music, ragtime, spirituals and religious music from which it had sprung.
That Gershwin was able to elevate the musical to new heights is exemplified in two quite different ways. "Of Thee I Sing," reviewed by Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times as "a taut and lethal satire ... funnier than the government, and not nearly so dangerous," was, in 1932, the very first musical comedy to win the Pulitzer Prize for best American play. I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall when the august Pulitzer board at Columbia University debated whether or not to take this radical step toward popular taste.
But "Porgy and Bess" is Gershwin's crowning achievement. It is the only opera by an American composer that has received worldwide acclaim. That is not a trivial distinction: a "selected" list of operas by American composers posted on the US Opera Web site comes to 359, if I counted correctly. Nor is "Porgy and Bess" a standard opera, whatever that might be. Gershwin called it a Folk Opera. It makes copious use of jazzy passages; its cast of characters, almost entirely African American, consists of ordinary people and not larger-than-life operatic heroes. American verismo.
The plot moves briskly and the hit tunes tumble one after the other; if they were sung in Italian, they would be called arias. An international group of collectors of recordings of "Summertime" claims to know of at least 20,142 public performances of that song, of which 13,842 are said to have been recorded.
Fanfare for the uncommon Aaron Copland
A young man, Morris (probably ne Moishe) Kaplan was in England, on the way from Lithuania to America, when he anglicized his name to Copland. Some years later, in 1900, his fifth child, Aaron, was born in Brooklyn and came to grow up to become the most American of American composers, a goal he aimed at almost self-consciously.
His music is American, not simply because he incorporated into it both jazz and blues, making use, as well, of older American tunes -- though he did all that. Nor is his music American because so much of it is devoted to American themes: "Appalachian Spring," "Billy the Kid," "Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson," the opera "Tender Land." But even though Copland wrote many works that derive from European sources, including atonal music, the core of his output evinces a tonal world that became a kind of paradigm of American "classical" music, strongly influencing a subsequent generation.
While numerous technical analyses have been put forward of this Copland-American style, I will confine myself to a few general characteristics. The themes or melodies Copland invents are relatively simple and concise and when they are more extensive, they are likely to be made up of smaller units. Copland's rhythms are often distinctly declamatory and predominantly unhurried.
Perhaps most notably, Copland's harmony is derived from French rather than German music, most probably by virtue of the fact that he studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, the first American composer to do so. And finally, Copland makes a self-conscious effort to orchestrate with great clarity, letting each voice be heard with little or no doubling, making for a more open, less "sophisticated" but also less fuzzy texture.
Arguably, Copland's "Third Symphony" is the greatest American work in that genre. The first movement makes copious use of themes of the popular "Fanfare for the Common Man." Throughout its course, it steadfastly maintains its ability to keep the listener fastened to the orchestral progression.
The symphony is only one of a great many of Copland's works -- from chamber music to ballet to operas to scores for Hollywood films. But it serves as good evidence for the claim that Aaron Copland was the greatest American composer of the last century-- a century he spanned, since he died in 1990.
What is the moral of this story about the modern "origin" of American music?
Early on I said that I was mildly surprised that a most important trio of American masters consisted of three Eastern European Jews. Surprised, because that's not what you would expect when considering American music.
But only mildly surprised, because, after all, it is a fundamental truth of American history, and one that is in danger of being forgotten: Our open society liberated the newly arrived and first-generation Americans, and they harnessed their native talents and energies to advance the themes and tasks of their new homeland.
A recent study, "What Happened to the Children Who Fled Nazi Persecution" (for which I filled out a questionnaire), makes that point. But read the obituary pages of The New York Times, peruse the list of American recipients of the Nobel Prize or just listen to the accents of the professors who teach the science courses in our universities or to those of the physicians that treat our ailments. These are sufficient reminders of what the United States can accomplish when it honors its birthright as the land of the free.

First published on September 23, 2007 at 12:00 am
Copyright ©1997 - 2007 PG Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Presidential Election of 2016

   Herewith, my take on the forthcoming election, for what it’s worth. Unless Hillary’s reported illness gets worse and keeps her from campaigning, I expect her to become the next president of the United States. The recent debate and the many comments about it confirm that conclusion, though of course not as a sure thing.
   What then? I think Mrs. Clinton will be an OK chief executive, stable and task-minded and surely always informed and hardworking. She may be subject to periodic bursts of “inspiration” that will upset the applecart, but not too much. I’d expect her to be a better chief executive than W’s father, and with policies much more to my liking.
   Alas, Mrs. Clinton will suffer from sullen obstructionism as did Obama. There is a significant wing of the establishment that is opposed to a woman president almost as much as to an African American one. We can live with that (we have to), since, ironically, the country is not about to become as enlightened as Germany (Merkel) or Britain (Thatcher), even if it has risen to the level of South Africa (Mandela).
   But what if these speculations turn out to be mistaken? Many things can prevent Hillary from being the next president. There are too many potential obstacles to list, even plausible ones. That would make Donald Trump Obama’s successor and the designated forty-fifth president of the United States. Granted that sounds terrible—to me and to at least a portion of my readers—it is not at all impossible. (I remember staying up most of the night only to find out the next day who won when Dewey ran against Truman in 1948. That might well have gone the other way.)
   So, Trump wins. What’s next?  To begin with, there is some probability—not high but not trivial—that “the Donald” will not actually serve in the job he has been campaigning for. If that outcome seems downright weird to followers of US politics, welcome to 2016! Clearly, Trump has “private” motives for running—win or lose. He prides himself on being a top businessman and, indeed, his campaigning has filled his hotels.
   I assume, though I am not sure, that when a person actually elected to be president is not sworn in to serve, his vice presidential partner inherits that role. If so, we would have Mike (not a name his parents gave him) Pence become president elect. During his stint as a Representative, Pence’s reactionary record was totally unblemished: not a whiff of liberalism or open-mindedness to be detected in his dozen years in Congress. He would make W look to be downright progressive. Pence’s record as governor of Indiana is equally consistent in its right-wing actions. If he were to become president, he would make Harding, Coolidge and Hoover look like leftists. But while Pence would resemble that trio from early of the last century—he’d be like them only more so.
   But there will have been no president like Donald Trump, should he follow Obama into the White House. I’m not an American historian, so I don’t in fact know that no previous holder of the land’s highest office was an uncontrolled eccentric (to grasp at a euphemism). But I do know, if there was such a one, he will not also have had the phenomenal power of 21st century technology. He would be a Goliath with a machine gun. Unthinkable.
   Let us fervently hope—and of course vote—that it remains unthought because it does not happen because Hillary Clinton comes out in front. I don’t know that I have what it takes to return to this subject if Trump is the winner on November 8.