Rush’ signature song

One of the Rush groups on Facebook had an interesting question: “What is Rush’ signature song?” Naturally, I couldn’t just comment on the thread and say “Dog Years, obviously” – I had to write something up. So here it is.

The way I see it, Rush’ signature song got to be one of a fairly large set of songs – with that mere fact itself being an indicator of how great Rush has been over its career.

To me, the signature song has to demonstrate every aspect of Rush’ best characteristics: incredible chops, intellect, appeal across the fanbase, and appeal in popular music. It doesn’t have to cover everything – I don’t think whether the song features synths or not is entirely relevant, but I guess it might help (although synth skill isn’t what makes Rush what it is – it’d be more like the integration of the synthesizer more than the actual playing of it.)

So offhand the set of possibilities would might look like this: Working Man, 2112, Xanadu, Closer to the Heart, La Villa Strangiato, The Trees, The Spirit of Radio, Freewill, Natural Science, Tom Sawyer, YYZ, Red Barchetta, Limelight, The Camera Eye, Subdivisions, Distant Early Warning.

This is not to say that these are Rush’ only good songs; I’m just trying to think “If I offered you ____ as a ‘signature song’, would you wonder what was wrong with me?” I think all of these are understandable as ‘signature songs’ even though I don’t think some of them are.

So… Working Man. Great song, but it’s really too long, plus it doesn’t show off the virtuosity that we think of when we think of Rush; it doesn’t have Peart! A signature song, yes, but THE signature song, no.

2112: Great song, definitely, but too long; it’s a suite, not “a song,” so despite how awesome it is and how important it is to Rush overall, it’s out. I’d also say that 2112 lacks appeal in popular music; Rush people get it, non-Rush people… might.

Xanadu is a strong candidate, but I think it’s a little too niche for “signature song.” It’s also long for a signature song.

Closer to the Heart is a VERY strong candidate; it has simplicity, intellect, a great vibe, everyone plays deceptively well, and people like it even if they’re not into Rush. I think this is our best candidate so far.

La Villa… one of my favorite Rush songs, but no vocals. It’s an “exercise in self-indulgence,” for real. I don’t think an instrumental can be a “signature song” for a band that has fewer instrumentals than albums. Needs more cowbell- I mean, uh, Geddy, to be a “signature song.”

The Trees! Now here’s a song that really knocks on wood, if you know what I mean. Has synths, has fantastic motion, a deceptively simple message for the thinkers out there, rocks out really hard, has great dynamics… So far, Trees and CTTH are the best candidates in the catalog.

Now we hit a stretch where Rush seemingly could do no wrong… starting with The Spirit of Radio. It’s instantly recognizable (moreso than The Trees or Closer to the Heart), it’s short, it made it on the charts, it’s accessible, it’s incredibly hard to play well… it fits all of the characteristics I would think are necessary for a “signature song.” I think it edges out our earlier songs.

Freewill is on the same album, though, and it, too, is pretty popular. In fact, I think it has the same elements that make The Spirit of Radio so good… but it’s actually harder to play, I think (different musicians will feel differently, but the middle section is easy to pretend to play but really hard to actually do well.) However, I think the emphasis on virtuosity still gives the edge to The Spirit of Radio.

Natural Science is one of my favorite songs, but I think it’s too long and too intellectual to be a “signature song” – and it lacks that instant recognizability that The Spirit of Radio has.

Again, this is not saying that the “rejected songs” are bad in any way – I am just trying to think analytically about what makes a “signature song” for a band. In fact, a “signature song” doesn’t even have to fit the characteristics robotically – Led Zeppelin’s signature song is “Stairway to Heaven” and it’s long… but it has to be a song of Stairway’s caliber to violate the constraints. Luckily, Stairway to Heaven is a song of Stairway to Heaven’s caliber, so… there you have it.

Let’s get to Moving Pictures last, because it has a ton of candidates.

Subdivisions is fantastic – I don’t think it charted, though (I think “New World Man” did instead.) But while the guitar work on Subdivisions is perfect, it lacks the virtuosity I want in Rush’s signature song – and the emphasis on synths weakens the song overall.

Distant Early Warning has the same problem. Really hard song to play, but it lacks some essential edge that makes me think “Yeah, this is the stuff.” In fact, I would dare say that it’s the weakest candidate on my entire list. (Sorry, Grace under Pressure.)

So off we go to Moving Pictures, where we have a lot of candidates: Tom Sawyer, YYZ, Red Barchetta, Limelight, and The Camera Eye.

The Camera Eye is too long; fantastic song, but not a signature song. If you’re not expecting to hear a signature song played in every concert on every tour, it’s not a signature song. (Closer to the Heart didn’t show up in their later tours, but not only was that surprising, it was also well-overplayed. It deserved a rest. The Trees did, too. Those are examples of signature songs that you expect to hear every concert and every tour but you understand why you don’t.)

YYZ is an instrumental; like La Villa, I don’t think an instrumental has a fair shot at being a signature song. Rio de Janeiro adding vocalizations to the song doesn’t count.

That leaves us with Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta, and Limelight as the front runners on Moving Pictures, to compete with The Spirit of Radio.

I wanted to say Red Barchetta, really badly – the song construction is so beautiful, the story is concise and well told, it’s got perfect production, everything… but no, Tom Sawyer and Limelight are just instantly more recognizable and, honestly, both have virtuosity that Red Barchetta does not.

I have a hard time picking between Limelight and Tom Sawyer, and I think both compete with The Spirit of Radio.

But the truth is, I think that while any of these three would be an excellent signature song, I think it has to be Tom Sawyer, because of how iconic it is in every way: shifting time signatures in the actual sections, every instrument (including the synths) is definitive. Talk to musicians about the “Tom Sawyer growl” and they know EXACTLY what you mean: an OB-X with all 8 voices using a really highly resonant filter, following the envelope down in varying rates by voice; mention the “Tom Sawyer lead synth” and they know exactly what waveform is used. The guitar is distorted but incredibly clear; the bass carries through everything; the drums sound perfect and are a fantastic example of what makes Peart who he is to drummers. Even the vocals are on point.

So there you have it: I think the signature song is “Tom Sawyer.” I wouldn’t argue against nearly ANY song, really (it’s a personal choice) but I think the most popular answer that can be justified would be “Tom Sawyer.”

And I’m happy with that.

2017: The Year of Reconnection

2017 has been an interesting year for me.

It’s been a hard year, a difficult year indeed. There have been some challenges that I have not been able to meet head-on yet; there have been choices and events that have been or could still be devastating.

This post is not about those challenges. There will not be a post about those challenges until they defeat me (and there’s something worth saying about them such that others can profit from it) or until I defeat them.

This post is about the wonder and glory and happiness of the things I’m likely to remember about this year when I am telling someone about how marvelous and mystical the world sometimes seems to be.

It’s been a year of reconnecting with people I’d thought lost to me.

Suzanne was a friend who was a girl when I was young. I hate to use the term “girlfriend” for a few reasons, but let’s just say I had moments where I imagined something new to me then: settling down with another actual human being and trying to be my best self instead of just enduring moments as they went by. She endured a terrible tragedy that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy; while she was dealing with that, I sort of bowed out of her life (her decision, not mine, and I complied because duh).

I’ve been wondering about her for decades. Was she happy, was she healthy? It’s not that I wanted to rescue her – she’s not mine to rescue – but …

Here’s the thing. I’m a “relator.” In application, that means I tend to form relationships based on emotional distance. The farthest from me are acquaintances, then those slightly closer might be friends but not people I really talk to about deep things, then as you get closer and closer to me there are much stronger bonds.

The inner circles are family and, then, closest to me, are the people I really trust. There’s some overlap with family in that innermost circle, but it’s not a given that just because you’re in my family that I trust you with everything.

That may be unusual; I don’t know. It’s also the way I am.

But if you’re in that innermost circle… you may not be mine, but I am yours. That innermost circle gets everything I am: my loyalty, my trust, my vulnerabilities, my strengths… if someone in that inner circle has a need, I’m fighting for it. I’m shaking my fist at God to move Heaven and Earth until equilibrium has been attained. I’ll think about the problem, worry about it, worry at it, until it goes away – their need becomes mine.

Another aspect of that inner circle is that it’s not a voluntary thing. It’s permanent. Once you’re there, you are there. Once I’ve identified you as someone in that group, it doesn’t matter what happens; I will always see you as being in that inner circle, as having complete access to me within the bounds of propriety.

So back to Suzanne: she was probably one of the first (maybe the first, but I doubt it) person who was really in that inner circle. She was the person who made it clear to me that I had such an inner circle; how to address that circle’s existence was the source of major internal conflict for me for years. (I was an idiot. In retrospect, why would I deny it? What was wrong with it? Who was I trying to be, other than myself?)

Losing all contact with her was good in a few ways; my emotional attachment to her would have drastically and negatively affected my other relationships (and it did affect my other relationships, for a while, until the distance offered by time had increased enough that it became a background hum rather than a constant buzz in my emotional ear.)

But I’d always wondered how she was.

Well, this year I found out. We didn’t “reconnect” – we haven’t spoken, or written, or communicated with each other, although I did reach out to say “hello” (again, within the realms of propriety – I’m not interested in forming a relationship with a woman who is not my beloved wife.) But the fact that I was able to reach out at all answers the greatest questions about her – is she alive? Yes. Is she healthy? Healthy enough to be around.

It’s not much, but it’s enough. Finding out that she was “okay enough” removed a burden I didn’t even truly realize I’d been carrying all these years. Peleh Adonai, she was all right. She was respected professionally and personally, from everything I could tell. Wins all around.

But that’s not the only reconnection this year with a shadow from the past.

I was having a conversation with a good friend recently and mentioned wondering how our old music teacher was doing.

When we were in middle school in Wildwood, FL – grades six through eight – the school had an elective rock band, the “Guitar Group.” I saw myself as wanting to be a musician; after all, we had an organ at my old house in Tallahassee (a Hammond? Wurlitzer? I have no idea.) and I would pretend to play Elton John songs on it. (I was not playing Elton John songs. I was probably playing an endless set of variations of E5. I do not remember, but I do know that I had no freaking clue whatsoever about what I was doing.)

So when I went to this new school, I decided that somehow I wanted to be part of this band. I wasn’t a singer (I could carry a tune in a bucket, if you weren’t too concerned about tone or quality or enunciation) and I thought drummers were cool… so I told the teacher responsible for the Guitar Group, Mr. Moore, that I “knew how to play drums.”

I did not know how to play drums.

I did not know how to hold drumsticks.

I did not know how to play a beat.

I could, however, hit things with sticks, and I could listen, and I could learn.

I didn’t tell Mr. Moore I didn’t know what I was doing, but having ears, and eyes, and a brain, he knew… and for some reason, he taught me how to play drums. I was okay at it, I guess. I applied most of what he taught me with a will; the main thing where I refused was in how I actually held the drumsticks. He was trying to teach me to use traditional grip and I happily agreed with him but used matched grip instead.

Mr. Moore gave me a lot of things. For one thing, he gave me a purpose in a new city in which I knew pretty much no-one; he also showed faith in me when he had no reason to do so. He gave me a skill I have used in following a passion ever since; what’s more, he taught me how to listen to my bandmates and how to identify core themes of a song.

Of course, I applied those things imperfectly; I tend to identify themes in a song rather than elements in a song, so I might try to play an “exact cover” of someone else’s song and come up with something that sounds almost, but not quite, completely different.

A paraphrase of actual conversation with a friend:

ME : Hey, listen to this! I mastered it, I think.
ME : Pretty good, yeah?
HIM: ... What song was that?
ME : "Working Man," by Rush. Don't you know that song?
HIM: Um... I know the song, but that wasn't what you were playing. 
     Was that "The Spirit of Radio?"

(“Working Man” and “The Spirit of Radio” are, um, let’s call them “very different.”)

What I had done is pretty simple, and kinda funny and sad in retrospect: I’d identified a sort of theme, and played it; and the theme I had in my head was only tangentially related to the actual themes in the song. I’ve been known to play songs “note for note” with wrong measure counts, wrong time signatures, all kinds of things… not because I’m unskilled, but because I was playing the songs’ themes as they were in my head rather than the song’s themes as they actually were.

(For the record: once I realized I was doing that, I started trying to actually identify the elements in the songs; when I want to, I can play note-for-note or nearly so, but I rarely want to except as a warm-up exercise.)

Anyway, Mr. Moore – through showing faith in me and committing time to actually teaching me what I claimed to know – did a lot to help me. He gave me a coping mechanism, and a mode of expression, that I’ve relied on ever since.

And when I left that school, I lost touch with him. I picked up more instruments; drums were awesome, but they were loud, and I couldn’t carry them with me on a bus. My best friend played bass, and I couldn’t stand for him to be better than me at anything, so I picked up bass too… and guitar, and synthesizers, and eventually taught myself something of how to sing and how to play piano and organ.

And it all started with Mr. Moore, about whom I knew nothing recent.

So there I am, having a conversation with, well, that bass player – and I casually mentioned Mr. Moore.

And he said “Oh, I think he lives in the same neighborhood as my parents.” And then gave me a way to get in touch with Mr. Moore’s wife.

I was stunned. I sent her a long, drawn out message to say ‘hello’ and explain why a complete stranger was reaching out.

And she responded, saying that Mr. Moore – who she called “Ronnie” – remembered me. And gave me his email address.

I was stunned again.

I emailed him, and we’ve had a few communiques back and forth; I sent him some of the music I’ve written and recorded, saying “This is all your fault!”… and he responded to that, saying that if it was on him, he’d bear that proudly.

Personally: wow. (He also said to call him “Ronnie” but that “Mr. Moore” was okay if necessary… I’ve tried to think of him as “Ronnie” but I just can’t. “Mr. Moore” it is.)

What’s amazing to me about all of this is that it’s happened at all. I haven’t been seeking these people out; I’ve just been asking distant associations casual questions, and getting answers.

It’s amazing, and gratifying, and mystical.

It’s happened in a year after I could have died. (I’m still trying to write up what happened.)

It’s not perfect – there are two people with whom I’d still want to reestablish contact in various ways, but if God so wills it, it will happen. (Yiddish proverb: “If God so wills it, even a broom will shoot.”)

But I’m still thankful beyond measure that these small answers to small questions (“Whatever happened to…”) have answers.

Don’t forget to live, folks.

Roy Moore

The Republican Party has decided to back Roy Moore for Congress in Alabama.

I am very conflicted by this, for a few different reasons. I’m conflicted because I can understand why the support has been granted – in a few different ways – and yet I also struggle with the idea that such a person is considered as being tolerable for what should be the primary voice of the people in their own government.

The Story

Roy Moore is a judge from Alabama. He’s had an interesting history; he was a Chief Justice for Alabama’s Supreme Court, removed for violating sanctions against the separation of Church and State (first for installing a monument for the Ten Commandments in a state building lobby, and then removed again in a later term for telling judges to enforce a ban on same-sex marriage that had been deemed unconstitutional.)

He’s made multiple attempts at Alabama’s Senate seat; in the current (as of 2017) race, he’s trying to win the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions upon Sessions’ promotion in Trump’s administration. His opponent was endorsed by President Trump (and the larger part of the national Republican Party) but Moore won despite the lack of national popular support.

Based on his two removals from the State Supreme Court and his founding of the Foundation for Moral Law, he believes in a code that supercedes United States law, and I assume that means a sort of Christian moral code.

I do not know if he believes that Christian ethics should serve as the basis for United States law. I think it’s fair to assume that he thinks it already does, but I don’t know if he thinks it should be encoded as law; the ban on same-sex marriage (despite unconstitutionality) makes me think he does. I have thoughts on that, but not in this section.

He’s a Birther – one of those people, like President Trump, who asserted that President Obama was not born in the United States and therefore was not a legal candidate for his office.

He’s apparently one who, um, pursues women (or sexually harasses them, which is probably a more proper term); there have been a lot of claims lately (backed by evidence) that he’s pursued women who were underage legally (or barely legal in some cases). He has offered various defenses against these claims; many of his supporters have rationalized this pursuit in various ways. Some of those ways have been defensible (if not exactly reassuring, or effective, or even “good”); others have not.


First off, Roy Moore repels me. I am not in Alabama, and I have no vote to offer him or his opponent, but I can say with all honesty and fervor that his opponent would have to be an incredible cretin for me to consider voting for Moore. (I don’t know much about his opponent, other than that he’s a Democrat; if he was a jerk, surely the GOP would be shouting “He’s a terrible person too!” and since they’re not doing that, I assume Moore’s opponent is an actual human.)

With that said, there are positive and negative reactions to Moore – mine may be horribly negative, but I can rationalize the positive reactions as well (even if I don’t find them convincing). Some of the positive reactions I find to be spurious and would be embarrassed to echo them; some of the negative reactions I find to be similarly ignorant of some harsh realities (even though I, too, have those same negative reactions.)

Let’s cover the positive reactions first. They’re shorter, and probably need less explanation.

Being For Moore

There are a few reasons to be pro-Moore, that I can see. One is political expediency (with two primary variations), another is raw party affiliation, another is personal association.

In one sense, political expediency is a matter of saying “We’d rather have a GOP vote in the Senate rather than a Democratic vote.” Moore isn’t a “normal Republican” but as we’ve seen in the 2016 Presidential election, that’s not much of a problem for the GOP these days; Trump isn’t a “normal Republican” either. (In fact, he’s more of a “normal Democrat” but had an easier path to power in the GOP.)

I don’t really like this, but I understand it; the party lines are drawn so severely that on controversial issues Senators seem more likely to vote with their party rather than based on actual conviction. (I’m aware that there are some blurred lines here; in many cases the conviction matches the party line.) Moore is more likely to vote with the GOP than with the Democrats, so the GOP has little choice but to continue its pursuit of power. “Better an ally you despise than an enemy you respect,” is one way of thinking of it.

In another sense, political expediency is based on the actual issues Moore has stood for – and paid for – historically. His personal morals aside, he’s taken a hard stance for the Ten Commandments, for example (losing his seat over it); the same is true for same-sex marriage. For many of his potential constituents, these are easy things to support (“What’s wrong with the Ten Commandments?” and “Why do them gays want to get married anyway?” along with the various conflicts such changes imply. Nobody wants to be told what they should endure, even if “enduring” those things matters very little.)

So for a significant part of the voting populace, voting for Moore might not be all that important, compared to voting for someone who will support the things the voters support, like the Ten Commandments. (Most voters don’t see how a monument with the Decalogue on it is “establishing a state religion,” and I personally agree with them; if someone put up a monument with Islam’s equivalent I could appreciate it without feeling like I was being pressured to be a Muslim.)

Worth noting: I’m not advocating for the Ten Commandments (although I’m Jewish, and therefore they’re pretty important to me). I’m also not against same-sex marriages. Personally, I think if people want to get married, let them; I would, however, say that forcing private businesses to support those marriages against the religious convictions of the owners is wrong. Homosexuals can and should be a protected class in many arenas, but this is not one of them. A church that has a forceful belief against homosexuality should not be forced to conduct same-sex marriages; likewise, a bakery whose owner feels that same-sex marriages are an affront against God shouldn’t be forced to bake for a given wedding. Let them miss out on the business instead.

Another reason to support Moore is because he’s running on the Republican ticket and not on the side of those “Godless Democrats” – party affiliation, straight up. This one ignores actual actions or voting points, and just focuses on party; I know people who vote this way for both parties (“Which one’s the Democrat? I’m voting for him… or her, whichever.”) I find this reason for voting to be idiotic. I’d rather not vote than choose to vote based on party alone.

(I’m not perfect in this regard… but I do try to at least determine something about a candidate before voting for him or her. At the very worst, I’ll choose voting for the challenger just to create churn in government. I’ve done it; I’m not proud of it; I’m trying to be honest about it. I also try to do better than that whenever I can.)

Personal association is probably the easiest to understand: it’s people who know Moore and identify with him (maybe they voted for him, maybe they’re from his neck of the woods, maybe they know him personally or attend his church or something?) These people vote for the person they know, more than based on political idealism or on issues. This is the same kind of reason one might vote for a family member, even though you might disagree on some core issues.

Being Against Moore

The reasons to vote against Moore… this what I imagine shooting fish in a barrel would be like.

The reasons I can think of being against Moore: party affiliation (which is as dumb a reason to be against Moore as it is to be for him), political expediency… and then there are the actual reasons to be against Moore specifically, which are his actual ideals, his ability to get along with others (his statesmanship), and his personal behavior and response to his own flaws.

One can be against Moore for many of the same reasons one can be for him, of course; maybe you vote the straight Democratic ticket (which is just as dumb, in my mind, as voting the straight Republican ticket simply because you’re a Republican.) Maybe you know the political opponent; maybe you identify more strongly with the Democrat, politically speaking. These are valid reasons, even if one of them is S-T-U-P-I-D dumb. (Namely, the “I vote for a Democrat, always” – that one’s dumb. No matter what party you vote for, that’s stupid. Stop doing that. It’s dumb if you vote Republican, it’s dumb if you vote Democrat.)

I wouldn’t vote for Moore personally because of his inability to separate the Constitution from his idea of a Moral Law. That’s not to say that I don’t think there is a Moral Law – I do. But it is separate from the Constitution and the two coincide but do not serve each other.

For example, same-sex marriage… it is Constitutional, whether one likes it or not (or even if you feel like marriage shouldn’t be an issue for the State to decide.) Once it’s been determined as being legally Constitutional, the discussion of enforcement stops, in the judicial and executive sense. It might still be a legislative issue, but it’s not a legal concern, whether an individual feels like it is or not. Moore’s edict to ban same-sex marriage despite its Constitutional status violates his role, crucially.

He has every right to campaign against same-sex marriage, in the legislative sense. He has every right to disapprove of same-sex marriage, to speak against it in his private life, to feel whatever he feels… but as a Supreme Court Justice, his public stance must be and has to be to support the Constitution.

His inability to separate his mandated neutrality from his personal views makes him a poor Justice and would make him a poor Senator. He needs to represent everyone he serves, not just the ones who voted for him. That means supporting those same-sex couples in his constituency, too, as well as any Muslims, Jews, atheists, Sikhs, or any other such people regardless of faith or lack of it. As it is, I find it difficult to believe he’d actively protect the rights of people who don’t believe as he does.

His personal behavior, though, adds an exclamation point to the “don’t vote Moore” sentiment. He’s been accused of pursuing women whom most would consider underage, in some cases even legally so. His reactions have been defensive in nature, and many of his supporters have tried to justify his predatory nature, using some arguments I find abhorrent.

I have yet to see him accept his past behavior (if it even is solely in the past, the actions of a younger man who was unwise?) and I haven’t seen him offer a redemptive narrative – and I think a redemptive narrative is necessary.

That means that all of these people saying “Joseph was much older than Mary” are enabling such behavior, accepting and excusing it, even though if an older man were to pursue their own young daughters they’d probably be reaching for a shotgun.

If it’s not okay if it happens to you or your family, it’s not okay if it happens to someone else or their family. That’s the thing these people are missing, it seems. And if it’s actually not something they’d reject, well… maybe their licenses to parent should be revoked.

I’m aware that this is a cultural norm that is fairly recent in nature; as little as one hundred years ago, such May-December romances would have been considered more mainstream. That’s fine; I’m not saying that an older man paired with a younger woman, in context, is in itself wrong (although it can be, regardless of time period; a man of thirty should never, ever, ever marry a woman of… eight. If the lady in question is prepubescent, that’s… gross and I can’t countenance it.)

But whether the norm is recent or not, it’s still the norm. It’s not something that’s done today or should be done today; even if you find people you respect or like who’ve done it in the past (Jimmy Page, Elvis Presley) it’s still not something you do. (See also: Glitter, Gary.)

It’s not that I think that his past behavior necessarily invalidates his candidacy; I think that people are able to be redeemed through their acceptance and their behavior. If he had owned it and accepted it as a failing in his past, and had done better since, he might be considered as redeemed and the issue would be far less critical than it is. But that hasn’t happened. Instead, he’s been unable to accept censure for behavior that most people, including those who generally believe the same things he does, find reprehensible.

A man who’s been banned from a mall for gross behavior should have done everything he could to address that publicly … at the time. It was too late to address it once he started running for Senate, and he hasn’t really bothered.

Another Facet

The problem I’m having is one of context.

Moore is a jerk. I don’t think I could vote for him.

But at the same time… people are jerks. People are awful. There are few such paragons of behavior that even in their times they couldn’t be censured for being terrible, much less in our own time.

Look at George Washington: a man whose behavior was nearly impeccable, a President so beloved that political opposition was nearly entirely pro forma. (“We can’t have him unopposed… can we?”) Yet today we excoriate his memory – the man without whom we’d not have a country so free that we even are allowed to resent him – for owning slaves. (He owned them; he set them free upon his death; from what I understand he treated them humanely. He still owned slaves.)

In his time, slave ownership was seen as distasteful by some, but not many; for most it was a necessity for a man of wealth and means. But today it makes him anathema.

If you look at most other historical figures, you’d find even time-relative flaws; this one carried on an affair with his mistress against cultural norms even of his time, that one blackballed an enemy, this other one stole advances from his commercial rival, and this fellow created a monopoly to prevent that one from taking business from him. It’s nearly impossible to travel the seats of power without stepping on toes of some sort.

My concern is that Roy Moore is suffering from a lack of perspective; in fifty years, we might roll his eyes about his skirt-chasing, but not recoil in horror as we do in this moment. (I’m imagining an extremely unlikely future where he turns out to be a giant of statesmanship.) That’s more or less the Clinton effect; we’d say that his sexual harassment was awful, yes, but look at all the good he did!

I don’t know how to fix this, either. My fear is that sometimes you need an axe to get something done, and sometimes that axe is unpleasant.

Yet I’d still be unable to vote for Moore.