Madeline Janis was once memorably described in these pages as
a crooked-as-the-Kickapoo activist responsible for Los Angeles' "living wage" laws, head honcho of the poverty-pimping L.A. Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), and commissioner at the City of Angels' Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). She's one of about a half-dozen people who most deserve thanks for the fact that L.A.'s gross metropolitan product was in serious secular decline even before the recession hit.
She is the progressive's progressive in my former home town, twice as influential on her city's affairs than any lefty I can think of in New York City. So when Janis makes an attempted display of cross-ideological comity, in the form of an L.A. Times column about her recently deceased Rush Limbaugh-loving father, we can fairly read it as representative of a certain category of progressive political tolerance. Scarequotes implied. Excerpt:
On the day we were packing, with both of us understandably on edge, I came across a stash of Rush Limbaugh caps, maybe half a dozen of them, each with a different year printed on the front. I couldn't let it pass.
"Can't we get rid of these?" I asked. "Rush Limbaugh is nasty and mean-spirited. He doesn't like women and, if he knew me, he would hate me and everything I stand for. Can't you at least stop wearing these caps?"
The dad, who Janis describes as "highly educated—a psychiatrist with multiple advanced degrees in science and medicine," understandably refuses. He also apparently demurs at her invitations to have screaming matches about politics:
I didn't want to get into arguments every time we saw each other, but sometimes I couldn't help challenging him. His political beliefs were rooted in the idea that people should take care of themselves and not depend on government for things like healthcare and sustenance. Yet he had benefited from the GI Bill, Social Security and Medicare. "Isn't it great that the government provides you with so much?" I'd ask.
He usually made it clear by his silence that he didn't intend to take the bait. And the truth was, as he told me regularly, he was proud of me despite our differences.
Eventually, her hectoring pays off: "[A]lthough I really like Rush Limbaugh," he tells her, "I love you more. So I'm going to give up the caps." Amazingly, Janis portrays this one-sided act of political bullying as a mutual kumbaya moment we can all learn from:
Our love for each other and our family helped my father and me transcend the enormous ideological divide between us.
It makes me wonder if there isn't something in these experiences that might help us, as Americans, transcend our political differences. Even if we don't have the same closeness as a family, Americans of all political stripes do share a love of country. And that could be a start, at least, at reaching across the gulf of ideology to work cooperatively and respectfully to solve the challenges facing the nation.
Read L.A. Times readers letting Janis have it here. (Sample: "Note to Madeline Janis: You and your father did not transcend the ideological divide — only he did.") Limbaugh himself takes a whack here.
Hat tip to Josesph Mailander, whose writings on Janis are worth Googling.