- - Monday, October 29, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The unspeakable anger after an unspeakable act, like the synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh and the attempted pipe-bombing assault on senior Democrats, including a former president, always follows as if a ritual. It’s now drearily familiar.

First the outrage, then the expression of grief and sadness, then the call for “national unity,” a search for someone to credibly blame, and finally, back to business as usual. It was, sadly, ever thus. An outrage is too valuable to let go to waste, particularly an outrage only a week shy of a national election.

There’s only frustration in trying to find the words to adequately and accurately describe the horror and heartbreak of what happened in the Tree of Life Synagogue, where 11 Americans died simply for the fact that they were Jews. The hearts of those broken by the news of such wickedness — the quaint word lifted from the Scripture is the only one that suffices — are not limited to those of the faith of Abraham, Moses and the Torah. In the wake of tragedy and outrage of Pittsburgh, we are all Jews now.

The arrival of autumn always brings sudden gusts of wind from one direction and then the other, and every gust in the present hour seems to have come from a common well of gall and wormwood. The midterm congressional elections now at hand lend a special bitterness to the wind. One incredible sensation barely flashes across the national consciousness before another gust arrives with a new sensation. Democrats could pull off a blue-wave wipeout in Florida, a Republican is poised to knock off a Senate stalwart in deep-blue New Jersey, an advancing migrant crisis on the border could make or break the fortunes of either party.

Such news invariably tests the nerves of investors. By week’s end, the S&P 500 flirted with correction territory, giving up 10 percent of gains from September highs. Markets are customarily skittish in October, the month of the Wall Street crashes of 1929 and 1987.

The sum total of the good, the bad and the ugly is customarily nailed to the door of the White House and its occupant, who is sometimes at blame and sometimes not. President Trump can reasonably take credit for the growth of the GDP, at 2.9 percent over Barack Obama’s two-term growth average of 1.9 percent, largely owing to the springboard effect of the Republican tax cuts. That’s the good news.

The president cannot fully dodge responsibility, however, for the creeping effect of his tariff regimen that is meant to produce fairer trade agreements with global competitors. While Mexico and Canada stepped aboard the Trump trade train this summer, and the European Union is working toward what it calls “zero tariffs, zero-non-tariff barriers and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods.” Not so China. Beijing is slow-walking its trade negotiations with Washington, leading Mr. Trump to balk at proceeding until the Chinese lay out a valid plan for ending its practice of demanding technology transfers from U.S. firms.

The chill winds of November will likely chase away the October financial wobbles. Once voters have performed the periodic duty of making their red or blue choices for political leadership, the engine of American progress will likely resume its forward motion, freshly fueled with the air of certainty.

But it will do nothing to mend the broken hearts. Time will work its usual healing, even for those left behind to manage their grief. For that, those left behind must turn for relief to the faith of the ancient fathers, where the source of relief, repose and peace is eternal.

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