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A new Washington restaurant will promote immigrant causes right in President Trump's front yard

By Tim Carman
A new Washington restaurant will promote immigrant causes right in President Trump's front yard
The co-founders of Immigrant Food, from left: Peter Schechter, Ezequiel Vazquez-Ger and Enrique Limardo. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Dayna Smith for The Washington Post.

WASHINGTON - Steps from the White House, Immigrant Food, the owners say, is a project that's not about President Donald Trump, even if it is largely a response to the policies and rhetoric of his administration.

"It's one of the few things in Washington that's not about Mr. Trump," says Peter Schechter, one of the three founders of the "cause-casual" restaurant in downtown Washington. "We're in a period in the States where suddenly one of the most basic things about being an American is suddenly in doubt."

To Schechter's thinking, the thing in doubt is immigration, a divisive topic in America, especially illegal border crossings, but one that will animate Immigrant Food as it carries out its (possibly) cutting-edge missions.

When it opens this week, the place will celebrate the country's immigrant history, offer meeting space to organizations dedicated to immigrant services, act as an advocate on immigration issues and, not least importantly, serve bowls that fuse ingredients from various immigrant cuisines. The bowls, incidentally, have been created by an immigrant, Enrique Limardo, the Venezuela-born chef at Seven Reasons.

All of this will be found at 1701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, less than a quarter-mile from the front gates of the most famous address in the District. Immigrant Food will debut on Tuesday, which is not a random date. It's the day the Supreme Court will begin to hear arguments on Trump's proposal to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides legal protections and work permits to qualified people who were brought to the United States as children. Hundreds of thousands of "dreamers," as program recipients are known, are covered under the program.

With Immigrant Food, the founders are trying to pull off an artful balancing act. They want to help immigrants, and the groups that support them, but don't want to come off as partisans - or be lumped into the resistance movement against the president. (It's worth noting that "political affiliation" is a protected trait in Washington, which means that restaurants can't discriminate against diners based on their political party.)

As part of their media materials, the owners have handed out a paper on which are printed two columns: one for Who We Are and the other for Who We Are Not. Under the former, they list, among other acceptable descriptors, a "for-profit social enterprise" and a "new restaurant concept that fuses food and advocacy." Under the latter, they specifically reject such labels as an "anti-Trump organization" and a "one-time initiative to take advantage of the political moment."

The sheet also takes pains to point out that Seven Reasons and Immigrant Food are separate enterprises, presumably to protect the former from any blowback.

The two-level space, designed by Washington-based DesignCase, the same firm that created the antique-shop/smelter-chic look of Maydan, will operate on at least a few levels. Customers can walk in and order one of Limardo's bowls, such as the Viet Vibes or the Columbia Road. The Viet Vibes bowl takes adobo-spiced chicken and pairs it with spicy rice noodles, cilantro, peanuts, mango and a spicy pho vinaigrette sauce, among other things, to channel the flavors of Vietnam and the Caribbean. The Columbia Road bowl (spice-rubbed steak, misir wat-esque lentils, pickled loroco, fresh cheese and more) honors Ethiopians and Salvadorans, two of Washington's influential immigrant communities.

"At the beginning, I said this is going to be impossible," says co-founder Limardo about assembling his bowls. "I mean, try to fuse all of that in just one menu. It's like 20 restaurants working at the same time."

But after countless evenings of mixing and matching ingredients from all over the world, the chef came to the conclusion that "you can almost fuse everything, because it's chemistry, in the end."

There will be a second menu next to the main one. It will offer no food or drink. The "engagement" menu will ask customers to give something of themselves: their time, their talents, their cash or all of the above. Immigrant Food has partnered with five nonprofit groups to help them identify volunteers or collect donations to tackle a wide range of issues: legal representation in immigration courts, naturalization workshops, English-as-a-second-language classes, even training on how to handle interviews with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

What's more, these organizations will be able to use part of the Immigrant Food space for board meetings, media briefings or workshops. Some nonprofit groups, Schechter says, have an urgent need for meeting spaces because they don't have conference rooms of their own.

Finally, Immigrant Food will engage customers on the issues, via stories, statistics, videos and more in an online monthly magazine of sorts called the Think Table. First on the agenda for Immigrant Food is DACA. On the restaurant's website, you'll find background information and interviews on the subject and about what's at stake as the Supreme Court decides the fate of dreamers.

"Nobody's going to force it down their throats," Schechter says of the advocacy component. "If somebody wants to come and just eat, that's fine. . . . But we believe that people wake up in the morning and read the headlines on immigration and say, 'This is horrible,' but they don't know what to do about it. So we want to engage them, that there are things they can do about it."

Immigrant Food's founders have, apparently, coined a term to describe the work of their offbeat business. The owners call it "gastroadvocacy," and the concept appears to represent something new for the restaurant industry. Immigrant Food may be the next evolution in culinary activism, following in the footsteps of such groups as Emma's Torch in Brooklyn (which provides culinary training for refugees, survivors of human trafficking and others), Tanabel in Brooklyn (which employs refugee women to prepare Middle Eastern meals) or the People's Kitchen Collective in Oakland (which hosts communal gatherings to share food, stories and political knowledge).

Immigrant Food no doubt ups the ante on traditional corporate social responsibility, such as: KFC's decision to buy only chickens raised without antibiotics important for human medicine or Starbucks' plan to phase out single-use plastic straws by 2020. Immigrant Food, after all, is a for-profit restaurant company - with ambitions to open other locations - behaving like a nonprofit that wants to educate and motivate others to take action for immigrants.

Yet there is risk involved in this business plan, says Aaron Allen, whose consulting group works with major restaurant chains on various issues, including corporate social responsibility.

"What will be interesting is how polarizing this may potentially become," Allen says. Immigrant Food, he adds, hasn't expressly gone after Trump in its public statements or media materials, but "it's an undercurrent to what they're doing."

This approach could potentially alienate a segment of customers, Allen says, and that "gets away from the spirit of what the hospitality industry is supposed to do."

Then again, if you review Schechter's career, it almost reads like a prelude to Immigrant Food. In the early 1990s, Schechter, 60, co-founded a strategic communications firm that worked with Fortune 500 companies and foreign governments. He has advised political campaigns around the globe. He has invested in José Andrés restaurants. He co-manages a goat farm in Virginia. He speaks six languages. And he, like his partners in Immigrant Food, has visceral connections to other countries. He's a first-generation American, born in Rome to immigrant parents - his father was from Vienna and his mother from Hamburg - who became naturalized U.S. citizens. After living in Latin America for years, the family moved to Washington when Schechter was 15.

Limardo, 44, moved to the United States just five years ago from Venezuela. He left his homeland when the economy and the political situation "made it impossible to live there," he says. A classically trained chef who once had his own restaurants in Caracas, Limardo landed in Baltimore in 2014 and quickly became a star all over again at Alma Cocina Latina.

The third founder of Immigrant Food is Ezequiel Vázquez-Ger, 32, a native of Argentina and a partner with Limardo in Seven Reasons. He came to the United States shortly after receiving his economic degree from the Universidad Católica Argentina in 2010. Before moving into the restaurant business, he had a public affairs firm focused on Latin American companies.

The founders' first-generation immigrant tales are, in a sense, the glue that binds them in this project.

"Whether you're . . . the sons or daughters of Irish immigrants or a fifth-generation Polish immigrant or a first-generation Chinese immigrant, that's what America is," Schechter says. "I felt like this was a time to really be proud of it."

Mya Kretzer fought for girls high school wrestling in Kansas. After four years, she won.

By Liz Clarke
Mya Kretzer fought for girls high school wrestling in Kansas. After four years, she won.
Mya Kretzer's campaign to make girls' wrestling an official high school sport in Kansas began four years ago on a wrestling mat in McPherson. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Toni L. Sandys

MCPHERSON, Kan. - She was awkward at sports that involved rackets, balls or any kind of equipment. And the middle school girls she considered friends picked on her instead.

Finally fed up with being bullied, Mya Kretzer looked for a new crowd in seventh grade and found it in wrestling, a sport that ran through her family like strong winds whip through Kansas.

She loved wrestling's demands: the discipline and commitment required to control an opponent using only skill, technique and grit. And if she had to practice and compete against sweaty boys, the chance to wrestle was worth it, she decided.

But no matter how much she improved, Kretzer soon realized she would never have a realistic chance to become a state champion.

She could compete and enter any tournament she chose. But because Kansas didn't recognize girls' wrestling as an official sport, she would have to beat the best boys in her weight class to win a state title - a virtual impossibility given the greater strength and muscle mass boys tend to develop as they get older.

What girls needed, she believed, was to have a sport of their own. Achieving that goal came to define her high school wrestling career.

"Wrestling gives you what you need to be successful," Kretzer explained. "It gives you dedication, commitment. It gives you somewhere where you belong. You can be your own self and be a total badass."

Kretzer's campaign to make girls' wrestling an official high school sport in Kansas - as it already was in California, Texas and 12 other states - began four years ago on a wrestling mat in McPherson, a town of 13,077 in central Kansas. But it speaks more broadly to female athletes' ongoing struggle everywhere for full-fledged opportunity nearly a half century after the passage of Title IX, the federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex at schools that receive federal funds.

There's no question Title IX revolutionized sports participation among girls and women in the United States. Since its passage in 1972, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations, the number of girls playing high school sports has grown more than 11-fold, from 294,000 in 1971 to 3.4 million last year.

"Without Title IX, we simply would not be here after decades and decades and decades of being told girls weren't interested in sports or wouldn't be very good if they played," said Mary Jo Kane, director of the University of Minnesota's Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport. "What we have found is that girls and women are deeply interested in playing sports if they are given an opportunity."

For decades, however, female athletes have had to battle a hostile culture, if not outright bans, for that opportunity. Kretzer was hardly the first to lead the fight.

- - -

In 1967, distance runner Kathrine Switzer defied the Boston Marathon's ban on female competitors with a brazen act, entering the race as simply "K.V." Switzer.

Once an official spotted her in the field of men, he lunged and tried to pull her off the course. But Switzer's boyfriend, running alongside, shoved him aside, enabling her to finish the 26.2-mile distance.

Nonetheless, women's marathon didn't become an Olympic sport until 1984 - and only after the American College of Sports Medicine concluded there was no scientific or medical evidence that long-distance running posed health risks to trained female athletes.

In 2008, female ski jumpers filed a lawsuit for the right to compete in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics after years of being denied a place in the Winter Games for reasons that kept changing.

"My favorite one is that [ski jumping] would damage our reproductive organs," recalled Jessica Jerome of Park City, Utah, now 32, who was among the 15 international plaintiffs.

In 2009, the Supreme Court of British Columbia found that the athletes had been discriminated against but didn't compel the International Olympic Committee to add women's ski jumping to the Vancouver Games. Its debut came at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, where Jerome placed 10th, the top-finishing American.

Heading into the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, female ski jumpers still don't have the same opportunity to compete as men. They're restricted to the smaller of two jumps, while men can also compete on a hill that's roughly 100 feet taller.

There's a similar inequity in Olympic racewalking. While men compete at the 50-kilometer and 20-kilometer distances, women are restricted to the 20-kilometer distance.

Veteran American racewalker Erin Taylor-Talcotthas pushed for an opportunity to contest the 50 kilometers in the Olympics for years only to be told that women aren't strong or fast enough to complete the distance in less than four hours. The argument: that allowing women in the race would create a logistical headache and that not enough women are interested anyway.

"Build it, and they will come," Taylor-Talcott, who lives in Owego, New York, has countered.

As the international Court of Arbitration for Sport considers a formal complaint on the inequity in the run-up to next summer's Olympics in Tokyo, Taylor-Talcott continues training for a 50-kilometer race she may never get to contest while fending off personal attacks about her advocacy on social media.

Her husband hails her as a pioneer in the tradition of Kathrine Switzer. Taylor-Talcott won't go that far. "I'm just me," she said. "I'm just Erin who likes to race-walk. Why won't you let me race 50K?"

The common thread in all these battles, Kane said, is the deep-seated cultural link between sports and maleness. For men and boys, the opportunity to play sports is a given, she said; for women and girls, it has been anything but.

"Until very recently, females were stigmatized for having an interest in sports - and especially for having an interest in sports that have been closely identified with maleness," Kane said. "It makes logical sense, given that ideological structure and tradition of sports, that girls, as any minority group, constantly have to fight and re-fight battles for equality. Think about the energy that is expended by them to overcome the barriers put in their place."

- - -

Mya Kretzer has no shortage of energy on the topic of wrestling.

In the crowded hallways of a high school, she might seem unremarkable - a girl of average height, at 5 feet 4, with blue-green eyes and a passion for glitter-red nail polish. But Kretzer can squat 200 pounds and bench press 118, just shy of her body weight. She has cultivated her inner warrior since she was 12.

"You can get this negativity loop in your head over trying to be what other people want you to be or trying to impress people. That's a lot of what young girls think about, instead of being your own self," said Kretzer, now 18. "Wrestling allows you to find yourself. With your wins and losses, you get to reflect and try to develop yourself into something better. It's not something you practice a few hours; it's a 24/7, full commitment. The struggles in wrestling help you with the struggles outside of wrestling."

Wrestling gives Kretzer purpose, just as it did her father, her two elder brothers and her twin brother, all of whom wrestled for McPherson High. It also gave her the personal motto that's tattooed on her left forearm, "On a mission," and inspired the clipper-ship tattoo on her left calf that reminds her she's the captain of her own ship.

To that end, she logs her daily fitness routine in the wrestling journals she has kept for years. A recent entry included 150 sit-ups, 100 push-ups, 50 pull-ups, 100 bicycle crunches and 200 squats.

Wrestling dictates her meals, daily water consumption and regimen of vitamins C and B12 and CBD oil. It's also a prerequisite for would-be boyfriends. "And they have to be my size, so I can wrestle them," she said. "And I'm not kidding."

Her bedroom is filled with wrestling trophies, medals, plaques, posters and her red and white McPherson Bullpups letter jacket covered with patches commemorating her powerlifting records, podium finishes and three victories in an unofficial state championship for girls.

Though plenty of girls in McPherson come from wrestling families and tried the sport as children at a local club, most give it up in adolescence. Kretzer's freshman year, she was one of just three girls on McPherson's wrestling team.

The isolation was tough, at times.

At meets, where she wrestled boys if there were no girls in her weight class, she'd often have to hunt for a closet or vacant referee's office to use as a changing room because the girls' locker room was locked. Stepping onto the mat, she felt every skeptical eye on her. Worse, she couldn't show the offensive skills she'd mastered because all her strength had to go into defense against boys who wrestled twice as hard against her to avoid being ridiculed for losing to a girl.

In so many ways, she felt this wasn't fair. It wasn't fair to girls, who generally couldn't match the muscle mass of equal-sized boys. And it wasn't fair to boys, who faced three options: throttle a girl, default if they felt uneasy about wrestling a girl or get mocked by their peers if they lost.

So as captain of her wrestling ship, Kretzer took on double duty her freshman year, determined to grow girls' wrestling at McPherson and prove to the Kansas State High School Activities Association that there was enough interest to make girls' wrestling an official sport in the state.

Her father, Doug Kretzer, who continues to juggle his job at an oil refinery with coaching McPherson's wrestling team, vowed to do all he could to help.

"Until they have the ability to always compete against other females, we're leaving tons of girls out who aren't in the sport that otherwise might be," he said.

With the backing of the school's athletic director, Shane Backhus, the Kretzers developed a plan to bolster the ranks. They started with a simple idea: Get each girl on the team to recruit one other girl.

Key to their pitch was a promotional video produced by Wrestle Like a Girl, a nonprofit organization founded by sports advocate Sally Roberts, a decorated former wrestler and Army combat veteran. The video features footage of girls of all ages and shapes training and competing, with a voice-over describing the traits of female wrestlers: "She is a dreamer, a trend setter, a barrier breaker. Powerful. Confident. Bold. Courageous."

It hooked Morgan Jones, who attended a wrestling team meeting at Mya Kretzer's urging, saw the video and joined the squad. Jones said her confidence was shaky at that point, after she had idled on the bench much of her time on the McPherson's girls' basketball team. Through wrestling, she said, she gained a new sense of her ability. She started speaking up more in class and set her sights on becoming a firefighter.

"If I could wrestle with all these guys and keep up with them, I feel like I can run into a burning building and help people," Jones said.

Meanwhile, Kretzer did all she could to win a state title - including shedding 20 pounds her junior year. She added swimming and cross-country to her workouts and eliminated nearly everything but fried eggs from her diet in hopes that competing at 106 pounds would give her a chance.

She joined her father at high school wrestling coaches seminars around the state. He led breakout sessions on the potential of girls' wrestling to grow the sport's ranks and she followed with a personal appeal, looking each coach in the eye and asking him to promise to work with any girl who wanted to wrestle.

Backhus, McPherson's athletic director, made a similar pitch to his peers, with a goal of getting 24 Kansas high schools to offer girls' wrestling.

"When we sat down and started thinking about it and looked at every other sport, we don't make the girls run against the boys in the 100-meter dash," Backhus said. "We don't make the girls play the boys during tennis season or compete against them in swim meets. It just made perfect sense."

McPherson went a step further in 2017, hosting an unofficial Kansas state girls' wrestling championship in the school's storied Roundhouse gymnasium. The first year, 56 girls took part. The next year, 135. And last year, more than 220 competed.

The growth mirrored a national trend, according to Mike Moyer, executive director of the National Wrestling Coaches Association.

"What we have found is, typically high school wrestling grows a lot faster when girls are competing against other girls and boys are competing against other boys," Moyer said. "The challenge is, until you have enough critical mass, there is no alternative to having girls compete with boys. The quicker we can get to critical mass of young girls wrestling in every state, the quicker the growth will be accelerated."

For Kretzer, making wrestling an official girls high school sport in Kansas seemed an obvious solution - though it would take until this April, just weeks before her graduation, for the state high school activities association to finally consider doing so.

- - -

Kretzer was excused early from school - skipping classes in medical technology and public speaking - to make the two-hour drive to Topeka with her father to attend the vote.

Her own high school wrestling career was over, her postseason cut short by a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in a tournament in Oklahoma. She hobbled into the packed boardroom with an ankle-to-thigh brace stabilizing her surgically repaired left knee and took a seat in the section reserved for observers.

All stood for the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a roll call of the school principals, athletic directors, coaches and administrators on the board of directors. With 65 present, 33 votes were needed to pass a proposal, and nearly 30 proposals were on the agenda.

Keeping quiet wasn't easy in the cramped, low-ceilinged board room. Kretzer muttered under her breath and fidgeted in her seat, clutching her silenced cellphone so she could blast the result to her McPherson teammates back home. And when the wrestling proposal finally came up, two hours into the proceedings, she gritted her teeth.

Doug Kretzer was asked to introduce the motion on girls' wrestling, and he reviewed data about its growth in Kansas, as well as in neighboring Missouri, where the number of female wrestlers jumped from 171 to more than 900 after the state sanctioned a high school postseason series for girls.

Debate followed, mainly about the wording of the resolution rather than its merits, and Kretzer could keep silent no more. She feared the discussion had bogged down in granular details and that the main point - what was fair for girls - was getting lost.

"Can I just say someth . . ." she blurted out before being shushed by her father.

Several adults turned and stared, then resumed their discussion. It felt like an eternity.

Kretzer had spent her entire high school years working for just this moment - and now the moment felt like years. Finally, they called for a vote.

When those in favor were asked to raise their hands, she looked up and scanned the room. Her face flushed red; her expression contorted.

The room was a sea of raised hands. The proposal passed, 63-2.

Her mind went blank, and tears fell.

"Happy tears?" she was asked at a whisper.

She took a breath, suddenly flooded with conflicting emotions.

She had accomplished so much; she was so grateful for the overwhelming support. But she'd never benefit. She'd never win a state title and have her name listed alongside those of McPherson's past state champions in the school's wrestling room. Maybe, she thought, her daughters would one day.

"Hard tears," she whispered.

- - -

Mya Kretzer is now a freshman at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, where she's sitting out the 2019-20 wrestling season after undergoing a second knee surgery. She still aspires to qualify for USA Wrestling's world and Olympic teams.

KFC, Africa Fried Chicken peck it out in Senegal

By Danielle Paquette
KFC, Africa Fried Chicken peck it out in Senegal
Staff members attend to customers in the new KFC location in Dakar, Senegal, on Oct. 24. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Yagazie Emezi

DAKAR, Senegal - The Senegalese phone salesman didn't expect "finger lickin' good" to be so literal. But the grease! He needed three, four, five napkins. And the American portion size left his jaw aching.

"Eating KFC exhausts me," Momar Lissa Ndiaye said.

He'd wondered why people were lining up around the block to try the West African country's first Kentucky Fried Chicken. Television stars, high-heeled models and the president's son attended the grand opening in early October. Fireworks crackled above. Suddenly everyone was taking selfies at the two-story eatery with a giant bucket in the sky.

Ndiaye, 42, preferred the competition: Africa Fried Chicken. He spent his next lunch break at the older restaurant on the other side of town - one with a strikingly similar logo and color scheme.

"I'll drive longer to eat at Africa Fried Chicken," he said, ordering wings at the red-and-white counter.

As Popeye's and Chick-fil-A duke it out for sandwich supremacy in the United States, a new era of fried chicken has dawned across the Atlantic in rapidly developing Dakar, setting the stage for another kind of fast-food feud.

In one corner stands the shiny newcomer to this part of the continent, an empire with 21,000 stores worldwide. In the other: a Senegal-spun kitchen that was clearly inspired by it.

Some accuse AFC of copying KFC down to the last breading crumb. Others point out that KFC arrived second and suggest it should cater more to local tastes - maybe even change its name here.

Both stores boast secret recipes and oceanfront views in the Senegalese capital, which is home to 3 million potential customers. Both are vying for poultry dominance in one of Africa's fastest-growing markets. Both spark plenty of conversation online.

"They're about to [put] the Senegalese [knockoffs] out of business!" one customer wrote on KFC's Google reviews.

"Best chicken spot in town," another user wrote on AFC's page.

The high-calorie commercial war heats up as more restaurateurs seek to enter or expand in a region with an exploding middle class and the youngest population on Earth. Analysts say the potential - and the appetites - are bottomless.

Success, however, isn't guaranteed in a city where people can buy a hot plate of chicken and rice on the street for less than $3 - or ask a fisherman on the beach to catch them a snapper and grill it on the spot. Companies must stand out to lure customers away from cheaper traditional fare.

When Ndiaye, the phone seller, visited KFC on a recent Monday, it was practically gleaming. A banner made for Instagram greeted guests. So did a crowd-control rope that looked like it belonged in an airport.

He waited 30 minutes to place his order, full of anticipation. The food let him down.

"I like smaller sizes," he said. "They're less fatty, and they still fill you up."

Other customers fell in Kentucky Fried love.

Mohamed Massamda, a college engineering student, took one bite of his chicken burger and was glad he saved his high school graduation money for that moment.

"I don't have the words," the 18-year-old said, gazing at the slick wrapper. "It's just an incredible feeling. So crispy."

Khadija Gueye, 17, came for the taste she found on vacation in Morocco.

"The flavors other places advertise here," the high schooler said, "I can make that at home."

KFC Senegal has sold an average of 1,000 meals per day for the last three weeks, said Cheikh Hamidou Fall, the franchise's marketing chief.

It was built to accommodate 800 orders, so wait times have stretched. A guard stands at the door, telling customers to remain patient outside when the dining room is too crammed.

That's a testament to the brand's allure, Fall said.

"There are some rip-offs in town," he said. "They tried to adopt the KFC identity - like the bucket and the red colors - but it's not working."

Besides, he said, KFC Senegal's chief executive, Anta Babacar Ngom Diack, descends from chicken royalty. Her family owns one of the region's biggest chicken companies, with a plant that processes 4,000 birds per hour.

At the opening ceremony, she sported a bright red blazer - a feminine twist on the founder's classic look.

"When I was a kid," she said, "my parents would come back from Paris with buckets of KFC in their suitcases."

Diack, 35, worked her way up at her father's business but began yearning for her own project about six years ago.

That's when she started emailing KFC every month: Can we open a franchise here?

"I was persistent," she said.

When the middle class exploded and the market was ready and the dream finally manifested, she pledged to hire an all-woman staff. Now the receipts say: KFC First Ladies.

People called her sexist, Diack said, but she wanted to boost an underappreciated workforce. The goal for her next store, she said, is to give job opportunities to people with disabilities.

Across town, a polished red staircase welcomes guests to Africa Fried Chicken, which opened in 2016 and has its own jumbo bucket sign.

The AFC letters look awfully like KFC's, but the storefront touts a purely Senegalese option - dibiterie le walo, or grilled sheep.

Diners who slide into AFC's red leather booths can feel the ocean breeze. The windows stay open. Fans are blowing. There's a photo on the wall of Moammar Gadhafi.

The menu features buckets of chicken with barbecue sauce, mayo and a blend of local spices. Waiters serve juice cocktails named after African musicians, including Youssou N'Dour, whom Rolling Stone once dubbed "the most famous singer alive" in Senegal.

His son owns the place.

Birane Ndour, 38, initially wanted to open a KFC.

When he studied business in Paris, fast food was his study fuel. He sensed his friends back home would love it, too.

The American chain, however, rebuffed his outreach.

"I won't go into the details," he said, "but the response was not favorable."

So, Ndour vowed to launch a better version - a Senegalese version. He asked a neighborhood mom "who cooks for everyone," he said, to draft the menu. (He won't share the recipe.)

Now he wants to shred his original design. Completely renovate AFC. Sleek beige will replace the red and white. Maybe customers can enjoy hookah on the new second floor.

He plans to change the logo and open more stores across the city. Locations in the suburbs will feature lower prices, he said, because income tends to be lower there.

Then he can compete with the chicken giant.

"I believe in my people," Ndour said. "I believe in Africa. I believe in the taste."

As for what's next?

"I'd like to take it into the United States."

- - -

The Washington Post's Borso Tall contributed to this report.

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Murder of Mormon family in Mexico offers no easy answers, only questions

By ruben navarrette jr.
Murder of Mormon family in Mexico offers no easy answers, only questions

RUBEN NAVARRETTE COLUMN

(Advance for Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, and thereafter. Web release Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.)

(For Navarrette clients only)

By RUBEN NAVARRETTE JR.

SAN DIEGO -- There is a familiar stench coming from south of the border. It's the smell of lies and spin, cover-ups and fairy tales offered up for public consumption.

Brace yourselves. I think the Mexican government is not being totally honest. Shocking, right?

You know that horrible story from a week ago about the brutal slaughter of nine members of a family of Mormon fundamentalists in Northern Mexico?

Well, I've made my way through the three stages of shock -- first sadness, then rage, and finally curiosity. I'm stuck on No. 3.

The more I look at this story, the more it stinks. We still don't know why three women and six children (including babies) were, on the afternoon of Nov. 4, shot and killed as their caravan of vehicles was snaking along a country road in the dangerous drug corridor that connects the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua. We know a little about the barbarism of the attack from the eyewitness accounts of six other children who were wounded but survived thanks to 13-year-old Devin Langford, who hid the others behind some bushes and then walked nearly 15 miles to get help.

U.S. media outlets love the story of the boy hero, and they can't stop telling it.

I don't blame the media. It's a powerful story. Still, I wish they could find a little time to also dig into the motive for the killings and explain to us all why this atrocity happened in the first place.

For that, we may have to rely on the Mexican press, which is currently working to flesh out the details.

What the children have to say about the deliberateness of the violence suggests that these were targeted executions, and not -- as the Mexican authorities first suggested -- a case of mistaken identity where the killers mistook the family caravan for a rival drug cartel. It seems very likely that the gunmen knew full well that they were killing women and children, and that the family was targeted. It's also likely the attack was meant to send a message: Get out.

According to media reports, the LeBarons are part of a wealthy and powerful community of about 5,000 Mormon expatriates who own large parcels of land, dabble in politics and hold both U.S. and Mexican citizenship. By many accounts, in Mexico, these people had operated with a brazenness that got them banned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is based in Salt Lake City. There are allegations that the LeBarons practiced polygamy, which didn't go over any better with Mexican officials than it did with the mainstream Mormon community in the United States.

But, according to a recent article in the Daily Beast and various accounts in Mexican newspapers, what put the LeBarons on a collision course with other powerful interests in Mexico wasn't wives but water. The family resides on several large ranches in the border states of Sonora and Chihuahua, and those parcels use a lot of water. Other local Mexican farmers have complained for years, according to the article, and the confrontation has become violent in the past.

All of this puts me, and many people, in a tough spot. Like a lot of folks in the United States and Mexico, I want to know why this terrible thing happened. But I don't want to say or write anything that blames the victims or makes it seem as if they brought this tragedy upon themselves.

Let me be clear. They didn't. No one deserves this. The women and children who were gunned down were innocents. But that doesn't mean that U.S. authorities should not be taking a hard look at the other members of the family -- those who were not in the caravan that day, and some of whom have now packed up the rest of their relatives and left Mexico to return to the United States.

The FBI is working with Mexican officials to investigate the murders, and some arrests have already been made. But this is Mexico. Who knows what really happened?

The Daily Beast quotes an anonymous source identified as a member of a Mexican drug cartel, who doesn't seem to know who was behind the attack but suggests it was personal.

"Kids? Little babies? This is more along the lines of retaliation," the source told the website. "Mexicans don't kill a bunch of white kids for no reason."

I'll buy that. So what was the reason? We should not rest, or stop digging, until we know.

Ruben Navarrette's email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com. His daily podcast, "Navarrette Nation," is available through every podcast app.

(c) 2019, The Washington Post Writers Group

The Democratic candidates march into the gender minefield

By ruth marcus
The Democratic candidates march into the gender minefield

RUTH MARCUS COLUMN

(Advance for Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, and thereafter.

(For Marcus clients and FOR PRINT USE ONLY)

By RUTH MARCUS

WASHINGTON -- The notion of a woman running for president has evolved from singular curiosity in 2016 (Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina, alone in their respective parties) to multicandidate reality in the 2020 campaign. There is no turning back; it is now hard to imagine an all-male Democratic ticket next year.

But gender in politics remains fraught, with candidates, male and female, still navigating their way through the minefield.

They are sorting through not only the question of what is the best way for women to run -- especially in the wake of Clinton's defeat -- but, almost as daunting, what is the best, and safest, way to run against them. What is acceptably tough language in the rough-and-tumble of a high-stakes campaign, and what is barely disguised sexism?

Meantime, the presence of multiple women in the race does not mean that the field is anything close to level for men and women.

It suggests a welcome transition to an era of gender equality, someday, but it would be foolish to believe that moment has arrived.

Both of these phenomena -- the developing rule book of what is now a coed sport, and the tilted field on which that sport is still played -- have appeared in recent days. The first episode involves Democratic front-runners Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.

The former vice president criticized Warren's "Medicare for All" health care plan; the Massachusetts senator retorted that Biden might be "running in the wrong presidential primary" (a veiled shot at Biden's moderation); and Biden shot back that Warren was elitist and suffered from "an angry, unyielding viewpoint." South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg had earlier made a similar point, tagging Warren's "my-way-or-the-highway approach" and saying she is "so absorbed in the fighting that it is as though fighting were the purpose."

Some Warren supporters took this as gendered language, evoking women, especially women who seek power, as harridans and shrews, shrill and emotional. Warren herself decided to embrace the accusation -- at least, in a fundraising email. "Over and over, we are told that women are not allowed to be angry," Warren wrote. "It makes us unattractive to powerful men who want us to be quiet." She added, "Well, I'm angry and I own it. I'm angry on behalf of everyone who is hurt by [President] Trump's government, our rigged economy, and business as usual."

What to make of this? It can't be that a female candidate gets to clobber a rival -- "running in the wrong primary" was pretty tough -- but can't be hit back. As the Biden campaign pointed out, he has used similar language about men, calling John McCain "an angry man" in 2008, for example. The woman in the arena has to be able to take a punch as well as throw one.

At the same time, it is naive not to acknowledge that some words applied to a male candidate are loaded with implied derision when applied to a woman. "Angry Bernie Sanders" is a more palatable nickname than "Angry Elizabeth Warren." Two things can be simultaneously true: Biden is not being consciously sexist in using the A-word, and yet his use of the word when applied to Warren carries risks seen and unseen. Gender is an ancient minefield with explosives still to be detected, much less defused.

If Warren's challenge is that passion, at least to some, looks different on a woman, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar's is that experience does as well. Klobuchar directed some frustration at Buttigieg for what she described as the small-town mayor's shorter path to being taken seriously. "Do I think we would be standing on that [debate] stage if we had the experience that he had?" Klobuchar asked of Buttigieg's resume compared with that of Klobuchar and the other female senators running for president. "No, I don't," Klobuchar continued. "Maybe we're held to a different standard."

Would 37-year-old Penelope Buttigieg -- Rhodes scholar and Navy veteran -be taken as seriously? It's hard to know. The shiny new object always has political allure -- Barack Obama was a former state senator scarcely into his first term in the U.S. Senate when he made his audacious run for president. Yet it may also be true that the model of a female president remains so unfamiliar, so jarring even, that the melding of youth and gender would impede our imaginary Penelope.

The gender wars present in politics without warning and, at times, without perfect clarity. They are a measure both of progress and how far we have to go.

Ruth Marcus' email address is ruthmarcus@washpost.com.

(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group

While Trump played politics with aid to Ukraine, people died

By david ignatius
While Trump played politics with aid to Ukraine, people died

DAVID IGNATIUS COLUMN

(Advance for Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, and thereafter.

(For Ignatius clients and FOR PRINT USE ONLY)

By DAVID IGNATIUS

WASHINGTON -- As the House opens public impeachment hearings into the Ukraine scandal, the bottom-line question is dead simple: Did President Trump, for political reasons, manipulate military aid to an ally in a war that has cost 13,000 lives?

When you think about the Ukrainian soldiers in the front lines of this nasty proxy battle against Russia, the debate becomes more visceral and perhaps less confusing. As Ukrainians were struggling with near-daily shellfire, Trump appeared to treat military aid appropriated by Congress as a personal political tool.

What's outrageous about the Ukraine story isn't that it's a unique example of Trump's fecklessness in foreign policy, but that it's so typical. In dealing with Ukraine, Trump has behaved the same erratic, unreliable way he has with the Syrian Kurds, or the South Koreans, or NATO partners in Europe.

Trump's Ukraine machinations have yielded something like what we've seen in these other theaters: the diminution of American power and a corresponding increase in Russia's military and diplomatic leverage.

Even Republican senators seemed to understand that when Trump abandoned the Syrian Kurds to attack from Turkey, he opened a power vacuum that was filled by Russia. The U.S. has slowed this capitulation by keeping about 600 troops in northeast Syria. But Russia still has the leverage.

Russian diplomatic gains have also been evident in Ukraine. While Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani was flitting around the country disparaging American diplomats, Moscow was seeking a deal to stabilize Ukraine on favorable terms. The Russians are now discussing an agreement with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky -- the man Trump importuned in his infamous July 25 phone call for a "favor" in investigating his political rivals in return for military help.

Let's widen our Washington lens to look at the conflict zone in Ukraine. There's a nominal cease-fire there, but until recently, it has been shaky, at best. According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), between July and September (while the Washington antics were happening), there were 50,259 cease-fire violations, with 244 explosions attributable to artillery, mortars or other heavy weapons. That was better than in the three previous months, but still a nerve-wracking situation for civilians and fighters on the ground.

Zelensky had been elected in April as a peace candidate. He was eager to maintain American military assistance partly to bargain more effectively with the Kremlin. As Zelensky has pursued negotiations, he has faced attacks in Kyiv from critics who thought he was capitulating to Russia. That's another reason, as acting Ambassador William Taylor told one of his colleagues last summer, that it was "crazy" for Trump to play games with security assistance.

Catherine Croft, a State Department special adviser for Ukraine, explained in House testimony released this week the danger for Zelensky if it became known Trump had suspended aid: "It would be seen as a reversal of our policy and would … be a really big deal in Ukraine, and an expression of declining U.S. support for Ukraine."

The U.S. was an important "backup" for Ukraine, explains Olga Oliker, who directs European programs for the International Crisis Group. "Losing that support puts Kyiv in a weaker bargaining position." She told me that when she visited the Zolote crossing point between government and rebel lines in April, artillery shells whizzed overhead.

Zelensky has pressed ahead with his peace efforts, and Ukrainian and Russian-backed forces have now disengaged at Zolote and two other crossing points. And Zelensky announced Oct. 1 that he had agreed to Russian calls to implement a formula proposed in 2016 by then German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier that, in Zelensky's version, would provide withdrawal of Russian proxy forces followed by elections in the separatist areas of the east.

How is the United States shaping events as Ukraine is rebalanced? America isn't really a player. Trump said in September while meeting Zelensky in New York: "I really hope that you and President Putin get together and can solve your problem."

Meanwhile, a low-level conflict continues. Here are some details from recent OSCE cease-fire monitoring reports: On Oct. 5, a man and a woman died after a grenade exploded in their apartment in Kurakhove; on Oct. 24, a man was injured by shrapnel near Luhansk; on Nov. 1, a man was injured by shelling in Spartak.

As you watch the Ukraine hearings, remember this basic fact: While Trump was playing politics on Ukraine, people who depended on U.S. military aid were getting killed and wounded.

Contact David Ignatius on Twitter @IgnatiusPost

(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group

Why you need a financial fire drill

By michelle singletary
Why you need a financial fire drill

THE COLOR OF MONEY COLUMN

(Advance for Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, and thereafter.

(For Singletary clients only)

By MICHELLE SINGLETARY

WASHINGTON -- Nine days.

That's how long my daughter was hospitalized after the sudden collapse of her right lung, which required surgery. She's better now and finally able to breathe again on her own.

I'd like to thank the amazing hospital staff in Houston and everyone who sent encouragement during this difficult time. And even if I can't respond personally, please know I appreciate your kindness and concern.

This recent emergency prompted me to remind people of the need to have a "life happens" fund, which is meant to stabilize you when there is an expense outside of your regular budget. Without it, many folks fall behind on their bills and can't catch their financial breath.

We are a country divided by extreme wealth and poverty. At one end of the economic spectrum, people can easily afford an emergency. At the other end, there are those whose income covers only the bare necessities of life. A $200 emergency can set them back. This economic divide is very troubling and one that we as a society need to fix.

There's also a swath of middle-class Americans who can save but don't. They have more than enough to live comfortably with extra cash left over. In a recent column, I encouraged this group to examine their spending and make saving a priority.

To my disappointment, this plea was met with quite a bit of criticism.

One reader wrote: "Was this column really necessary?"

This comment sparked a debate, with some arguing that to even say folks should save is pointless.

"With everything we have to pay for, we just don't need to be condescended to," another reader wrote. "People do their best."

This is just not true.

Many people who are capable of saving are not doing their best. This is not a statement meant to shame or humiliate. I understand that stating the obvious can make people feel bad about their choices, but that doesn't negate the need for the advice.

Not that I should have to explain, but the constant drumbeat to save is not unlike the need for a fire drill.

Why do we need to practice for a fire?

Because during a crisis, we often can't think straight. We panic, and that can lead to devastating consequences. Yet, as adults, we sometimes resist this safety precaution. How do you feel when you hear the siren blaring during a fire drill on your job?

You probably see it as an annoyance. Or, you don't take it seriously, perhaps taking your sweet time to evacuate.

The same can be said for the practice of saving. People get annoyed when told that they need an emergency fund. But when a financial fire breaks out, they panic, because they ignored advice to prepare for when life happens.

A new survey from AARP found that one-half of adults have experienced an unexpected financial challenge in the past year. The most common emergency was a medical expense, loss of income or a necessary repair. The median cost ranged between $3,000 and $4,000.

Over sixty percent of Americans who had an emergency expense said that they delayed paying household bills, and over half used a credit card.

AARP points out in its report that a growing body of research shows how common and destabilizing unexpected financial challenges can be for all income levels, racial/ethnic backgrounds, genders and age groups.

"When a financial emergency happens, families are under stress, and the natural instinct is often to take the quickest step to solve the problem," said Gary Koenig, vice president for financial security at the AARP Public Policy Institute. "But this can lead to a decision that makes a difficult situation financially worse in the long run."

To help plan for the unexpected, AARP has launched a free "Money Map" online tool.

"We know that money is inevitably emotional," Koenig said. "Stress limits our ability to make well-informed decisions"

With Money Map (https://moneymap.aarp.org), consumers answer a few questions and are given general guidance on how to handle a number of possible hardships. Consider the exercise a financial fire drill.

"Your [column] actually jolted some sense into me," one reader admitted. "Thankfully, all my loved ones are in the same city as me, but I don't have anything for a rainy day and [I have] a ton of debt. I get my nails done, eat out, yadda, yadda. It is the 'I deserve this,' 'live for today,' 'it's my money, I'll treat myself' trap. Thank you for the bucket of cold water in the kisser I needed!"

A fire drill, a splash of cold water -- whatever it takes to get you to prepare for the unexpected. Because it (BEG ITAL)will(END ITAL) happen.

--0-- --0-- --0--

Readers can write to Michelle Singletary c/o The Washington Post, 1301 K St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071. Her email address is michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter (@SingletaryM) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/MichelleSingletary). Comments and questions are welcome, but due to the volume of mail, personal responses may not be possible. Please also note comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group

Ronald Reagan's policies helped bring down the Berlin Wall. Now he's not even welcome there.

By marc a. thiessen
Ronald Reagan's policies helped bring down the Berlin Wall. Now he's not even welcome there.

MARC A. THIESSEN COLUMN

(Advance for Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, and thereafter.

(For Thiessen clients and FOR PRINT USE ONLY)

By MARC A. THIESSEN

WASHINGTON -- In June 1987, President Ronald Reagan stood before the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate and uttered those iconic words that shook the world: "General Secretary Gorbachev ... come here to this gate … Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" They had been repeatedly removed from his draft speech by nervous State Department bureaucrats, but Reagan kept putting them back in. And just 2½ years after Reagan spoke them, that wall came down.

We speak now of the "fall" of the Berlin Wall, but in truth the wall did not just fall. It was pushed. It was the policies of Reagan -- his insistence on speaking truth about the evils of Communism, and his support for anti-Soviet freedom fighters, increased defense spending, the deployment of intermediate range missiles in Europe and the Strategic Defense Initiative -- that bankrupted the Soviet Union and brought about the peaceful collapse of the wall and the Evil Empire that built it.

So it comes as a shock to learn that today Reagan is not welcome in Berlin. To mark the 30th anniversary of the wall's collapse, the United States tried to get German agreement to erect a statue of Reagan in a public square in Berlin. Berlin officials refused. John Heubusch, head of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, said that "we were told it would be near impossible to make such a statue in Berlin."

Faced with German rejection of a Reagan statue on German soil, the Trump administration decided to erect it on U.S. soil -- on the embassy terrace overlooking the Brandenburg Gate where Reagan delivered his fateful call. In an interview, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell says, "We decided we were going to take matters into our own hands and put a statue up on the top of the U.S. Embassy." Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Berlin to unveil it.

Germany's ingratitude is stunning. Perhaps no country on Earth owes more to the American people. It was the United States that rebuilt postwar Germany with the Marshall Plan. It was the United States that saved Berlin from Soviet domination with the Berlin Airlift. It was the United States that stationed tens of thousands of troops in Germany to prevent a Soviet invasion across the Fulda Gap. The threat of such an invasion was real. The Washington Post reported in 1993 that after East Germany's collapse, the German military found that the communists had "prepared a detailed plan for the takeover of West Berlin" in which "Soviet forces and East German army, border police and local police ... would storm through the Berlin Wall." The planning was "so detailed and advanced that the communists had already made street signs for western cities."

Without the United States, without Reagan, the wall would have been brought down -- smashed under the treads of Soviet tanks.

It is not simply Germany's refusal to honor Reagan that rankles. Grenell points out that Foreign Minister Heiko Maas "wrote a definitive opinion piece that was produced in more than 20 papers across Europe ... about the 30th anniversary of the fall of the wall and how far Germany is coming ... and he didn't mention the United States." Indeed, his only reference to America was bemoaning how Berlin's exhortations to address issues such as climate change "fall on deaf ears in Moscow, Beijing and, unfortunately, to an increasing extent also in Washington, DC." He thanks "Gorbachev's policy of glasnost and perestroika" but not a word of gratitude for Reagan or the United States.

This from a country that is failing to meet its financial obligations to the NATO alliance that secured its freedom. Germany is one of the wealthiest countries in Europe, which sends billions of dollars to Russia for natural gas in Germany. Yet it spends just 1.24% of its gross domestic product on defense, among the bottom of the NATO allies. This month, Germany's defense minister called for raising its defense spending to the required 2% of GDP ... by 2031.

In the 20th century, Americans sacrificed their lives and treasure to liberate Germany first from National Socialism and then from Soviet socialism. When the world wanted peaceful coexistence with Soviet communism, Reagan declared his policy toward the U.S.S.R. was simple: "We win, they lose." Lose they did, without a shot fired. And today, the United States still has 50,000 troops stationed on German soil. Germany owes its freedom and prosperity to America and specifically to Ronald Reagan. The least they could do is say thank you, and put up a simple statue.

Follow Marc A. Thiessen on Twitter, @marcthiessen.

(c) 2019, The Washington Post Writers Group

Haley's comet just fizzled

By kathleen parker
Haley's comet just fizzled

KATHLEEN PARKER COLUMN

(Advance for Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, and thereafter.)

(For Parker clients and FOR PRINT USE ONLY)

By KATHLEEN PARKER

WASHINGTON -- She had it all: A great personal story as a first-generation American, a likable personality, a solid political record, an uncommon ability to hit the ground running with ease and competence, and a golden opportunity that made her a household name and earned her an international reputation.

Then she wrote a book -- and blew it.

Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor -- and more recently the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations -- sandblasted her carefully crafted facade and, in a transparent act of virtue signaling, stabbed two of her former colleagues and fellow Cabinet members between the shoulder blades. Her return to the public stage can best be described as a (BEG ITAL)goddess ex machina(BEG ITAL), whereby she descended from the upper realms to dispense wisdom and hurl thunderbolts into the hearts of any who would deny her.

No one did. Indeed, for the past several days, Haley and her just-released memoir, "With All Due Respect: Defending America With Grit and Grace," have been the talk of the town. News shows have homed in on a single allegation that seems to have been designed to produce TV teasers about "shocking revelations" -- that Rex Tillerson, former secretary of state, and John Kelly, former White House chief of staff and a retired Marine Corps general, had tried to undermine President Trump and asked Haley to help.

More to the political point, Haley essentially launched her next act -- possibly as Donald Trump's vice-presidential running mate (with all due respect to Mike Pence), or as a 2024 presidential candidate. Like clockwork, the president tweeted kudos and encouraged followers to buy the book.

Whatever her ultimate motive, Haley clearly decided that stepping on Tillerson and Kelly was in her political interest. There can have been no other reason to drag these two honorable, accomplished men through the mud for, by her own account, trying to mitigate some of Trump's more-destructive impulses.

Rather than sign on, Haley claims to have been offended by this conspiracy of good intentions. In her book and in several recent television appearances, her halo blindingly bright, Haley has said that Kelly and Tillerson thought they were aiming to "save the country" by attempting end runs around Trump.

They wouldn't have been the only ones, according to last year's anonymous op-ed in The New York Times in which the author similarly claimed that White House staffers and officials have been trying to save the country by working within, sometimes against the president's expressed wishes, which can change in a flash.

The resurfacing of these claims -- and the anonymous author's new book -- could help explain why good men and women continue to enter this decidedly dysfunctional White House. Being inside the White House may be a better position from which to manage the beast within.

It's a pickle. Do you ignore an immature president and take turns plugging the hole in the dike? (Hey, Haley we could use some help over here!) Or, do you do everything in your power to avoid actions that might cause the dike to crumble? One thing you don't do, obviously, is confide in an unscrupulous, self-serving, future presidential candidate.

Haley's loyalty to Trump at the expense of Tillerson and Kelly is both a hat-tip to Trump's base and a curtsy to the president. She plainly made a political calculation that people would find "her truth" courageous and that flattery aimed at Trump would not be wasted. "To undermine a president is really a very dangerous thing, and it goes against the Constitution and it goes against what the American people want," Haley intoned during a CBS News interview.

This would be true if said president weren't almost daily threatening to destroy order in the civilized world and didn't behave as though he were checking off the characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder. But there's an inherent irony in banking one's future on preaching loyalty through disloyalty. To what end does such a revelation, if true, warrant such tongue-wagging?

Alas, it seems that Haley, whom I've admired since before she became governor, bought her own myth and sold it cheap. Through her preening virtue, she has revealed herself to be more Lucy from "Peanuts" than Erin Brockovich -- a cartoonish fussbudget stumping for blue ribbons and bows rather than a whistleblower acting in the service of the greater good.

Sad.

Kathleen Parker's email address is kathleenparker@washpost.com.

(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group

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