Christopher Check, “Happy to Lose the Bet”

Sometime late last Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, I lost 100 dollars.

In September, at a fundraising banquet for Saint Michael’s Abbey, well fueled by a couple of gin-and-tonics, I bet a delightful lady named Bernadette that Hilary would win the election. She backed Trump. The loser would pay 100 dollars to the Abbey.

Never have I been so happy to lose a bet. (I hope the confreres spend it on gin.) The anguished looks on the sanctimonious visages of Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow were worth every single penny. Watching the map grow redder as the evening wore on, Jackie and I were laughing out loud, and since then I have not been able to stop. I think the last time I laughed so hard and so long was decades ago watching an episode of Fawlty Towers. Oh, and while I haven’t seen any of the neocon “never-Trumps” in a lather (there’s only so much time you can spend in front of a screen), I’m sure that would be even more delicious. What? No more stupid, illegal, and immoral foreign wars taking the lives of American sons and daughters (alas!) bleeding out in the desert dust or coming home maimed and insane? Speramus.

So, I was wrong about the election. Please God may I be wrong now: I expect Trump to disappoint, and not just a little. His campaign undoubtedly gave expression to the vestiges of the handful of things about this country yet to admire: putting in a full day, protecting hearth and home, keeping out of other people’s business. Nonetheless, the time for Morning Again in America saw its last gasp maybe during the reign of Calvin Coolidge. Probably long before.

Everything I know about Donald Trump is what I have seen on television, which means almost nothing. Does he share at all in the frustrations, anxieties, and aspirations of the people who put him in office? Let’s say he does. The deeper question is, “Do these largely material concerns constitute a sufficient ethic around which to unite a people?” It’s doubtful.

I don’t blame Trump. Let’s stipulate full-on sincerity on his part, but let’s not look to a boor to unite a nation more divided than ever, and frankly one fractured from the first. I attended the same John Randolph Club meeting in Cleveland at which Chris Kopff and Pat Buchanan and spoke. Both men cited the same passage from Federalist Number 2:

With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people—a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.

Chris and Pat have better commands of history than I ever will, but I sure wished I’d had the bad manners to stand up and say: “You all know that John Jay here excludes half or more of this room—the sacerdotal, superstitious papists.” Indeed, Jay, loyal son of the C of E, sought to keep Catholics from holding political office.

Unless you are a Cubs fan, 2016 will go down as the year of an especially unedifying political race. I do pray that the whole mess will yet be redeemed by High Court appointments who honor the sanctity of human life and respect the freedom of the Church, or at least by legislation that looks after American manufacturing and brings the troops home, but we cannot deny that our country is afflicted by a vast cultural divide that shows every sign of widening.

On either side are human persons who, whether they know it or not, are made in God’s image. Still, they cast about for this or that political or social condition the realization of which they are convinced will at last unite us all. To some it’s ever more material prosperity. To others it’s control of the international stage. To others it’s a sentimental utopia in which we all “coexist.” No matter that one’s religion seeks the extermination of another’s or that one’s definition of marriage departs from thousands and thousands of years of human experience, to say nothing of the natural and divine laws.

True unity is to be found only in Jesus Christ and the Church he founded. In her wisdom, the Church calls this unity to our attention every time we recite the Credo. The Church is “catholic,” and she is “one.” Gaudiam et Spes declares that “the Word made flesh, the prince of peace, reconciled all men to God by the cross,… restoring the unity of all in one people and one body.”

Nolite confidere in principibus. Every day I worked for Tom at The Rockford Institute, I saw the psalmist’s warning painted on the wall of our classroom. I’m happy Trump won. There’s a chance to slow the progress of evil a bit. Perhaps I’ll get to keep a little more of my paycheck. But I do not think I have any reason to heed King David’s admonition any less.


The Fleming Foundation

7 Responses

  1. Robert Reavis says:

    “The anguished looks on the sanctimonious visages of Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow were worth every single penny.”

    Yes and it’s not going away. Our entire generation has been taught from the lowest to the highest levels to admire what Hillary preached as freedom. Only thing the surprise election awarded ordinary Americans was a little time, another brief reprieve, to try and own something , teach something or establish another little beachhead along a very, very long enemy line. Sentimentality and artificiality is still the high learning of our day while reality remains the proper nourishment for a man’s soul.. The mean ones like Maddow and Mathews will fight back even though their misled followers are now in the fetal position, crying and weeping like Rachel in Ramah, petting puppies, canceling their college classes and seeking grief counseling from the election. Good to hear from you .

  2. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    We did not get to where we are in America overnight so we will not recover because of one election. However, as that joke about 1,000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea puts it, it is a start. We need to keep going. Keeping Hillary Clinton out of the Whitehouse is no small success in itself. I think every informed, intelligent Trump voter knows that he will be a disappointment, but if he can keep just one or two of his many promises it will be enough for now.

    My wife and I won a bet with her brother when Trump won. Although he wanted Trump to defeat Hillary, he was sure that Trump could not win. Saturday we “collected” our “winnings,” which was dinner. We went to Ophra Winfrey’s favorite crab cake restaurant. My wife is an aficionado of this Maryland favorite. Although the crab cakes were meaty with minimum filler, my wife was sure they were not made with authentic Maryland blue crab meat. Yesterday we took some out-of-town visitors to my wife’s favorite restaurant for crab cakes and she said they had better flavor than the previous day. (I would not know. Not a fan of crab, I always have something else: Fettuccini Alfredo with grilled chicken on Saturday and a medium rare burger with fries and Cole slaw yesterday.) Even when you win, the results are likely to disappoint. It is part of the human condition.

  3. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    It is rarely a wise idea to eat Fettuccine Alfredo in an American restaurant. The horrors perpetuated in the name of that famous dish, even to think about them for a moment, causes distress. Because the preparation is very much last minute and the ingredients have to be fine–home made noodles, fine but not very aged parmigiano, butter–America restaurants cheat by adding cream (not so bad), eggs (worse) and-horrors–various stabilizers like flour or corn starch. If they actually put chicken into the dish, they deserve summary execution, but, then, what don’t they put grilled chicken on? Twenty years ago,. I asked a Chicago waiter in a good restaurant, why, if they put chicken on salad, pasta, etc.l, did’t they put it into dessert? Fortunately, help is on the way, and Chef Garrett and I are going to do a podcast on popular Roman pasta dishes like spaghetti alla Carbonara, fettuccine Alfredo,etc., as a follow-up to our program on All’amatriciana.

  4. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Fine piece Chris. Here is a piece of ethics-aleatory advice: Never bet against yourself or in favor of the enemy. I once bought Bally gambling stock against my principles, and when I lost money, I knew I deserved it. This is why I hate insurance: You only win for losing!

  5. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    Dr. Fleming – regarding Fettuccine – as I concluded, even when you win, the results are likely to disappoint.

  6. Christopher Check says:

    Very good advice, Tom. I felt wrong making the bet. But I take comfort in knowing that Providence takes our sins and makes the outcome better than had the transgression never be committed. In this case it’s easy to see His hand at work: my unfaithfulness means a few bottles of Hendricks for my friends at St. Michael’s Abbey. Robert, we recently had a litter. I should take them over to UCSD in La Jolla and charge the students there refusing to attend class 50 dollars for 10 minutes holding an 8-week Cavalier puppy.

  7. Robert Reavis says:

    That’s the kind of imagination folks need in this brief reprieve.

    As Belloc once wrote in The Restoration of Property : ” No man attempting the restoration of property, or Distributism as it is sometimes called, can say, “Here is my cut and dried plan.” You cannot do it, because it is normal to man, organic; it is not mechanical, it is not theoretical. What we can do is to advance something on the way, to propagate the idea, to propagate its results, to insist upon it here and there, in this reform and that, by blocking this abuse and that, until there shall be established in society a certain growth which will lead ultimately towards better distribution of property. We do not want, and it would be folly to attempt, and it is not human to regard, and it is futile to desire the equal distribution of property. If you have a society in which the norm, it may not even be the majority, but the determining number of men are possessed of security in what they do, producing with their personality and with their production fully secured for the future, you have established a healthy state, you have reconstructed property; and if you will consider that, doing it organically, without revolution, you may, in spite of the enormous obstacles in front of you, do the trick. That is the rule I put before myself, and which, if I could come back to life after my death, I should probably find completely ruined.”

    But it is at least one thing ordinary patriots today could start imagining instead of reducing ALL to Nationalist BS or handing it all over to Socialist crack pots . Always a pleasure to read your posts.