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Ephronology

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I quote from Ms. Ephron's most recent cri de coeur about us boors: "To put it bluntly, the next president will be elected by them (white men): the outcome of Tuesday's primary will depend on whether they go for Hillary or Obama......"

'Hmmm,' I says to myself. 'Whatever could our Merry Muse mean?' Typical white man that I am, my first plan is to check the....I think the word is.....data. The latest poll (which has Senator Clinton ahead by six points) comes from Survey USA, released Monday. I notice that one percent of men, and two percent of women, are undecided. Since I assume there are roughly equal numbers of men and women in the population (although some statistics suggest there are more women, and other statistics find that women tend to vote more than men), I start wondering. Silly (and, presumably, angry) white man that I am, I ask myself: 'Exactly who is doing the deciding here?' I begin to feel this question gnawing at my innards, which, to mix my anatomical metaphors, flies in the face of my gender-based certitude. Could it be that I and my fellow guys are actually NOT in control?

'But no,' I says to myself. It couldn't be merely the data; after all, I've titled this piece "Ephronology," not "Ephronomics." Surely, we're in the realm of metaphysics, not statistics. So I return to madame's ur-text to find that "....it's suddenly horribly absolutely crystal-clear that this is an election about gender and race."

Uh oh. W(A)M that I am, I'm suddenly more confused than before. 'Geez,' I says to myself, 'I didn't know this election was about gender OR race!' That is, not until the chattering classes began putting such thoughts into my foolish male brain. Silly me! My original thought about Senator Obama's campaign had been: 'Wow! Here's a black man who is NOT running as a black man!' (May I leave aside the fact that this black man is half white? Thinking about that makes my head hurt.) Compounding my obtuseness is my pigheadedness (that's another guy thing, right?) -- I can't seem to shake this idea that the race is about gender and race because......everybody is TELLING me it's about gender and race!

A most unlikely word pitches up here from the world of letters -- a world that Ms. Ephron knows much better than I. But here goes anyway: the word I'm thinking of is deconstructionism, by which a literary work -- or for that matter, a political campaign -- does not and cannot have its own essence; instead, it can only reflect the cultural and political millieu surrounding it. Thus, we must not waste our time on the "intrinsics" -- ephemera such as policy, truthfulness, consistency, message, thoughtfulness. No, no, no -- we must not jump into those briar patches!

Wait a second. Hold on a moment. I just realized that, predictably, I have been focusing on race because race is about the guy candidate and the terrible truth is: I'm a guy and Obama is a guy. In fairness, I should talk about gender and Senator Clinton's campaign too. And sure enough, my intrinsic undependability bursts forth: I can't shake the notion that gender wasn't an issue until the Clinton campaign MADE it an issue! She was being ganged up on, we were told. The playing field wasn't level, she explained. I wonder if Ms. Ephron recalls these instances. Could it be a case of Ephronesia?

Or is it I who is having the memory lapse? Try as I might, I cannot recall a single complaint from Obama that his race was being held against him. Perhaps he missed an opportunity, and that would hardly be surprising: he is, after all, a half white male.

So I don't know what to say. I'm not even sure I know what I mean. I can promise you one thing however: the last thing I'm suggesting is anything resembling Ephronoia. I concede, however, that I cannot be relied on, even though Ms. Ephron and I never dated.