Links: Honoring veterans; Chris Sununu's decision; Bishop Stowe on the church and politics

20201112T0815-USA-VETERANSDAY-1009164 copy.jpg

Lights are seen illuminated to honor veterans on Veterans Day at the Oculus Transportation Hub in New York City Nov. 11, 2020. (CNS/Reuters/Andrew Kelly)
Lights are seen illuminated to honor veterans on Veterans Day at the Oculus Transportation Hub in New York City Nov. 11, 2020. (CNS/Reuters/Andrew Kelly)

Happy Veterans Day to all those who served in our nation's armed forces and to their families. They made and make great sacrifices for us all. This year, the public has been allowed to place flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, marking the 100th anniversary of the burial of the first unknown soldier at the site. Most nations have a similar memorial: The United Kingdom's is located in the central aisle of Westminster Abbey and France's is underneath the great Arc de Triomphe. It is altogether fitting that nations honor the fallen and those who returned to their families, no matter what we think of the politics or morality of war.

In New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu disappointed his fellow Republicans when he announced he would not be running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Sen. Maggie Hassan. Not only did he fail to give Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a heads up, but he used the announcement to tease a possible presidential bid. Democrats can breathe a sigh of relief: The math for a GOP takeover of the Senate gets a lot harder if they do not flip the Granite State.

At Commonweal, Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, talks with John Gehring in advance of next week's meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The headline made me nervous: "The Church Must Be Political." But the good bishop explained what he meant with great thoughtfulness: It is possible, for the church, to be political without being partisan. I think the bishops need to do a better job helping lay women and men to understand how to be politically engaged Catholics in a democratic system that requires partisanship.

Two commentaries in The Washington Post caught my eye, one great and one not-so-great. The great one was Alexandra Petri's takedown of Sen. Ted Cruz and other conservatives who objected to Big Bird getting his COVID-19 vaccination. Cruz said the episode was "government propaganda." One Arizona legislator labeled the loveable character from "Sesame Street" a "communist." Petri hilariously shows what it would look like if Big Bird really did dabble in government propaganda.

On the other hand, I was disappointed to read Eugene Robinson display a degree of denial that is cringeworthy. He argued that while liberals once used the word "woke," they don't anymore so its use by conservatives is a fantasy, describing what does not exist or something altogether noncontroversial. Sorry, but every couple of weeks, something happens — the Yale Law School flap or the broadsides against comedian Dave Chappelle — that are indicative of what most people mean when they complain about "wokeness." And you do not have to be a Republican to voice that complaint.

In The New Yorker, a profile of Stanley Tucci. If you have not seen his series about the regional foods of Italy, you are missing something. He keeps the narrative far from any head-scratching theories, focuses on the history of the particular places he visits and he isn't afraid to blurt out, "Oh my God, that is soooooo good." I have always envied him getting to play opposite Meryl Streep in so many great movies. It would not be hard to start a Tucci fan club: It turns out that everybody loves him — and we should!

At Vogue, an article about the recent wedding of heiress Ivy Love Getty. The account of excess on top of excess is not for the faint of heart. What was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi thinking when she agreed to preside at this bacchanal? How much do you want to bet that the Republicans use the photos in some of their ads! I remember my best friend in the 1980s, the late David Pickford, who was then the executive secretary at the U.S. Treasury Department, recounting a dinner in New York City hosted by Ann and Gordon Getty. When the bill came, it was inexplicably handed to David who looked at it, and as he passed it up the table said, "How convenient; they converted it into lire."

Michael Sean Winters

Michael Sean Winters covers the nexus of religion and politics for NCR.

Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. Learn more here