And now, just because nobody else writes quite like this guy, I give you a heapin’ helpin’ of . . . Martin Peretz:
It was 1988 presidential primary time in New York, and I was on the press bus going from Manhattan to Boro Park in Brooklyn where Al Gore was scheduled to meet Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam, the Bobover Rebbe, the Grand Rabbi of Bobov, Poland. Of course, there are no Jews in Bobov — and hardly any in Poland. But, despite the fact that the Lubavitcher and Satmar Hassidim are the most well-known sects (and the latter notorious, too), the Bobover are the largest Jewish faction in New York. Rabbi Halberstam, now deceased, was a descendant of the Ba’al Shem Tov (the Master of the Good Name), 1698-1760, the founder of the entire Hassidic movement. This fact, added to the numbers loyal to the Rebbe, was reason enough for Senator Gore to be paying a visit. Thousands of black-coated men (no women) gathered outside their leader’s house, actually for quite a long time. I am sure the two men were discussing the state of the universe, Al from his point of view, Halberstam from his. It’s possible, even likely, that they agreed on much. Suddenly they emerged, and a roar went up from the crowd. The candidate said nothing. And then the Bobover Rebbe spoke . . . in a whisper, without any amplification, at length. A Secret Service agent standing next to me muttered to himself, “How is this crowd supposed to hear what the rabbi has to say?” “Don’t worry,” said one of the Hassidim near us. “The rabbi speaks, his people hear.”
Indeed, “his people” did hear. After the primary, I asked one of the grinds checking the Gore numbers how the Bobover shtetl in Brooklyn had done for my candidate. “Very well,” he answered, “very well, almost unanimous.” Al lost. Jesse Jackson came in second, demonstrating just how stupid the electorate can be. (Reverend Jackson has now been cast aside by his own followers who seem to have discovered his essential fakery. Did you know that he was elected — yes, actually elected — as honorary U.S. senator for the District of Columbia? But his followers have now moved on to the Reverend Al Sharpton who, though looking svelte, is still a big bag of racist gas.) Do you remember who won the primary? Who went on to be the Democratic nominee? Michael Dukakis, man without vision, without passion and big-time loser to smaller mind George H.W. Bush.
Anyway, I’m not really writing about 1988. I’m writing about this year’s election. . .
Marty goes on and on about Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum and Mormonism and Catholicism and Buddhism, before finally trashing the American president (currently, Barack Obama) for being insufficiently bloodthirsty vis-à-vis the Palestinians. (This is all Marty ever really writes about.)
An acquired taste, Marty is.