With the success of my original recounting of Mr. Twain’s comments on various topics pertaining to current events, he recently provided me with some further observations that I felt it important to disclose to the editors of this fine publication. The editors, in turn, have deemed this information to be of the utmost importance to their readers and you can determine for yourself below if they are correct:
Mr. Twain had an old friend, Ebeneezer Klein, who resided outside of Stamford, Connecticut. Ebeneezer, wise as he was, suffered from a fairly serious hearing loss as the years passed, leading to this recent confusion.
“Samuel,” Ebeneezer said one day to Twain, “I’ve heard that there’s some kind of trouble in Washington concerning numbers, some issue of “fractions” not working out, some arithmetical problem!”
“Eb,” Twain replied, “I’m certain I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Twain thought about what his friend had said for an additional moment and a smile crept onto his face:
“Eb, once again your hearing has let you down! It’s not ‘fractions’ that are causing a problem in Washington, but ‘factions’”!
“What do you mean?” asked his friend.
“You see, there was a recent attempt by members of the Republican Party, supported by the new President Trump, to do away with the old Obamacare health program. The Democrats were opposed to this repeal, but the Republicans, with majorities in both houses of Congress had the votes to ignore the Democrats and repeal on their own.”
“So what happened?” queried Klein.
“Nothing,” was Twain’s curt reply.
“The Republicans in the end discovered that there was enough opposition in their own party to the new healthcare bill that there was no chance that it could pass. Opposition from the Democrats together with a faction of conservative Republicans blocked any possibility that the repeal bill would become law. So the sponsors withdrew their bill without it coming to a vote.”
Ebeneezer wondered for a moment and said: “Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work, government by consensus?”
“The Founding Fathers might say otherwise in that the recent failed attempt to repeal Obamacare represents the evil of factionalism in its purest form. You see, James Madison defined a faction in his famous Federalist Paper No. 10 as ‘a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.’”
Twain continued: “Merely talking about the ‘national interest’ being of supreme importance to the survival of our nation when various factions in the country are divided deeply on major issues will not be sufficient to keep the country united. This is why the recent impasse in Congress is so dangerous. I’m seriously worried that Honest Abe’s ‘house divided’ cannot ‘stand’ in light of this refusal of partisans on both sides of the aisle to compromise.”
“The nation has been through these periods before, Sam, hasn’t it?” Ebeneezer countered.
“That’s true,” Sam replied, “but remember how many citizens fell at Shiloh and Gettysburg before anything was resolved. Let’s hope that it doesn’t come to that!”
Twain’s far-sighted views on the Jewish people and their survival are well known to most. His respect for their contributions to world civilization and their indomitable spirit in the face of countless efforts to destroy them and their beliefs was expressed in his writing and public addresses. In light of the foregoing, Twain’s feelings about the recent news that the main source of terrorist bomb threats to many JCCs around the USA emanated from a Jewish (Israeli) source is revealing.
“I can’t say I’m surprised, just disappointed,” Twain revealed to me. “Throughout history, all peoples have suffered on occasion from the deranged acts of their fellow citizens or co-religionists. I view it no more than the lashing out of an irrational, troubled soul. Thankfully, all he possessed was a mens rea, and didn’t act on it!”
And with that Mr. Twain offered all his Jewish friends:
“A Happy and Kosher Passover!”
By Joseph Rotenberg
Joseph Rotenberg, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Link, has resided in Teaneck for more than 40 years with his wife, Barbara. He has spent most of that time searching his surroundings for signs of intelligent life. His first collection of short stories and essays entitled “Joseph’s Travels: Tales of Mystery, Intrigue, Humor and Enchantment” will be published by Gefen later this year.