It ain’t rocket sci­ence, Mr. Pres­i­dent

Imperial Valley Press - - OPINION - CELIA RIVENBARK Wilm­ing­ton, North Car­olina’s Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-best­selling au­thor and colum­nist. Visit www.celiariven­

OK, let’s go over this again, shall we, Mr. Pres­i­dent? You clearly didn’t take my well-in­ten­tioned ad­vice in the past so I’ll try once more.

And while it is true the def­i­ni­tion of in­san­ity is do­ing the same thing over and over and ex­pect­ing dif­fer­ent re­sults, as a man­ners-ob­sessed na­tive South­erner it be­hooves me to, as we say down here, lick that calf all over again.

So here we go.

A primer on “how to do” by a red­state dweller who, let’s be frank, finds you boor­ish and hor­ri­ble but as a proud Amer­i­can would be re­miss not to at least try to help you out a bit. First, a quiz.

Ques­tion 1: When of­fer­ing con­do­lences to the griev­ing widow of a slain soldier, should you:

a. Of­fer soft words of com­fort and in­vite her to tell you about her hus­band in her own words

b. Thank her for shar­ing her heroic spouse with a grate­ful na­tion while ac­knowl­edg­ing her per­sonal loss and the pro­found grief of her en­tire fam­ily

c. Call her a liar re­peat­edly on so­cial me­dia by dis­put­ing her claim that you never called her hus­band by name and hold­ing her up to ridicule at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity while main­tain­ing that you, in con­trast, were “very nice.”

Ques­tion 2: When you visit a hur­ri­cane-rav­aged U.S. ter­ri­tory where 80 per­cent of the peo­ple still have no elec­tric­ity and are in im­me­di­ate danger of ill­ness and death be­cause of un­san­i­tary con­di­tions, should you:

a. Show em­pa­thy and pres­i­den­tial be­hav­ior by vis­it­ing the very worst parts of the is­land and quickly in­stalling a project com­man­der to co­or­di­nate the re­lief and restora­tion ef­fort

b. Re­mind Congress that Puerto Ri­cans are U.S. cit­i­zens and there­fore de­serv­ing of im­me­di­ate fi­nan­cial sup­port to re­build and re­store their crum­bling in­fra­struc­ture

c. Toss pa­per tow­els at ex­hausted res­i­dents, mug for the cam­eras, head back to the air­port and tweet hate­ful gib­ber­ish about the mayor while main­tain­ing that you, in con­trast, were “so nice.”

Ques­tion 3: When at odds with a hard-work­ing mem­ber of the U.S. Se­nate, a Viet­nam war hero who is bravely bat­tling brain can­cer should you:

a. Con­grat­u­late him on a life­time of ser­vice to this coun­try and in­di­cate that civ­i­lized men can and should de­bate is­sues with­out per­sonal at­tacks while at­tempt­ing to reach com­mon ground and sen­si­ble so­lu­tions to dis­agree­ments both for­eign and do­mes­tic

b. Ap­pear to­gether to af­firm com­mit­ment for reach­ing con­sen­sus on best way to en­sure af­ford­able health care while ref­er­enc­ing the need to ex­tend the type of med­i­cal ben­e­fits en­joyed by Congress to Amer­i­can fam­i­lies be­cause health care is a right, not a priv­i­lege

c. Re­mind this U.S. Se­na­tor his lack of sup­port is start­ing to se­ri­ously piss you off and he should know big-shot real es­tate moguls don’t take kindly to crit­i­cism and will take you down, brain tu­mor or no brain tu­mor

Sadly, Mr. Pres­i­dent, you’ve cho­sen Op­tion C in each sce­nario, which begs the ques­tion we of­ten ask in the South when con­fronted with wretched be­hav­ior: What ails you? Se­ri­ously. What?

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