BOCA RATON, FL.-——A resident of a retirement community here is in hospital and another under arrest following a political disagreement yesterday.
Police and emergency responders were called to Kugel Gardens when Hettie Tannenbaum, 79, assaulted Irving Zlotnik, 81, using a shuffleboard cue. Zlotnick was rushed to the West Boca Medical Center where a CAT scan revealed a subdural hematoma. Overnight he regained consciousness, and Dr. Mustafa al-Walid, 46, head of trauma at West Boca, expressed confidence that neurosurgery will be successful and Zlotnik will live.
Tannenbaum was jailed. Esmeralda Castro-Levitan, 38, spokesperson at the Boca Raton police department, said she expects her to be arraigned today.
Kugel Gardens fitness director Tiffany O’Connor, 29, did not witness the incident but speculated it might have had a romantic background, since many Kugel Gardens residents are widows and widowers.
However, eyewitness and resident Muriel Levine dismissed this. Levine, 80, formerly a homemaker and insurance executive in Providence, Rhode Island, said, “to be quite frank when you get to our age all that is just a memory.”
She described Tannenbaum and Zlotnik as former hippies and lifelong Democrats and said she has known them since 1968, when as students at Oberlin all three bathed to volunteer in the late Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy’s unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Levine added that emotions at Kugel Gardens had been running high since March when mega-billionaire and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 74, launched his bid to succeed 55-year-old current President Barack Obama.
“I’ve never seen it like this,” Levine said. “Every four years they put us on the busses and take us to the high school auditorium where we vote Democratic for everything from president to dogcatcher. Then they bring us back and give us lunch or supper. But it’s always been mellow. Not like now.”
She added that since Bloomberg threw his hat in emotions have only intensified under a cascade of developments. Among those mentioned by her:
• The March 15 Florida primary defeat of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, 68, by Vermont Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie “Robin Hood” Sanders, 75.
• The nomination in April by Obama of Kamala Harris to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Harris, 51, who had previously stated she had no interest in the job, is currently California’s first African-American, first Asian-American, first woman and first Baptist attorney-general. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, 73, Senate majority leader, said that Harris and any other person nominated by Obama would be confirmed “over my dead body.” Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, 82, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, added, “Let the president take it to the Supreme Court if he wants.”
• A recommendation in June by the FBI that Clinton be indicted for mishandling classified materials on her home email server, followed by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, 57, saying she would do no such thing, followed by FBI director James Comey, 56, resigning, followed by Obama thanking him for his service.
• Black Friday and Black Tuesday, July 1st and July 5th, when after easing all year the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 26 percent in two days.
• The first-ballot anointing in Cleveland during a heat wave of billionaire Donald Trump, 70, as the Republican nominee for president, beating back a last-minute challenge from Mitt Romney, 69, the party’s 2012 standard bearer. Trump named Sarah Palin, 52, as his running mate.
• The winning of the Democratic presidential nomination by Sanders on the fourth ballot at 3 in the morning at the party’s riot-marred convention in Philadelphia, during another heat wave, beating back a Hail Mary challenge from Vice-President Joe Biden, 72.
• Sanders’s naming of African-American New Jersey Senator Corey Booker, 47, as his running mate.
• Finally, the news last month that Clinton was filing for divorce from her husband, former 70-year-old President Bill Clinton.
“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Levine. “Now you’ve got people who’ve played mahjong together for years not speaking.”
She said Tannenbaum and Zlotnick were among the most affected. Ever since Bloomberg’s entry at the head of the Adult party the two had been at loggerheads, fighting over electability, suitability and justice, Tannenbaum citing Sanders’s promises of no-cost universal health care, no-cost universal college education, more generous Social Security and Medicare benefits, a doubling of the minimum wage and the jailing of all bankers and hedge fund managers the day after his inauguration, while Zlotnick cited Bloomberg’s record on gun control, sugary drinks, Hasidic circumcision and the Ground Zero mosque.
“And then bang!” Levine said. “Hettie did what she did. To tell you the truth, I was shocked but not surprised.”
Reached in Berkeley, California, where she teaches hermeneutics, Tannenbaum’s daughter, University of California Professor Lilith Tannenbaum, 43, said she wasn’t surprised either.
“My mother has always been serious about politics.”
Prof. Tannenbaum is the author of the New York Times best seller, “From Sappho to Gaga: How Heteronormativity Poisons Everything.”
She explained that she will be unable to visit her mother at this time because of seminar commitments. However, she has arranged for legal representation and is prepared to go bail.
Despite yesterday’s incident both she and her wife, Shaquilla Shakur, 43, UC Berkeley Professor of Reparations, are planning to vote for Sanders in November in what is virtually a three-person race, even in deep-blue California, which the late President Richard Nixon called “the big enchilada.”
Prof. Tannenbaum said, “We’re just going to vote for Bernie and cross our fingers.”
Back at Kugel Gardens, while declining to say which candidate she favors, Levine guessed residents are divided equally between Sanders and Bloomberg. If a visitor didn’t believe it she told him to count the “FEEL THE BERN” and “GO MIKE!” buttons. There seemed to be an equal number. Just one resident could be seen wandering the premises wearing an old “READY FOR HILLARY” button.
“Oh, that’s Gloria,” said Levine. “Don’t bother interviewing her. She’s lost her marbles, I’m afraid.”
Levine says she stays sane by surfing the Internet and updating her Facebook page seven hours daily. She claimed she had been more excited by the confirmation earlier this year of Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves than she is by the election.
However, she recalled that in his latest blog the 38-year-old pollster and prognosticator Nate Silver declared that with Bloomberg having spent $2 billion so far, and expected to spend another $3 billion in the five weeks remaining before the nation goes to the polls, everything but Texas and Vermont is in play including New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, California and Florida.
She quoted Silver’s much-quoted comment: “It’s just one man’s opinion, but if you ask me this thing is headed for the House of Representatives.”
He was speaking of Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 of the Constitution which stipulates that if no presidential candidate wins a majority of the Electoral College, the House will decide. Silver noted that while 270 electoral votes will be needed to win on November 8, the upshot of the latest polling averages has Trump, Sanders and Bloomberg garnering 179 each.
“For the first time in my life,” Silver said, “I’m worried about what’s going to happen, like, in this country.”
Levine said she is less worried about what may happen in the country than what may happen at Kugel Gardens.
“Yom Kippur is coming,” she said. “Management hopes it’ll calm people down, but two days later there’s the first debate. I’m worried there’s going to be more violence.”
Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, begins the evening of October 12, and the Wolf Blitzer-moderated first in a series of triangular debates is scheduled for October 14 in Fort Lauderdale. Blitzer is 68 years old.
“My son is worried too,” Levine added. “He called me and offered to put me up in New York until after the election. But I’m registered here.”
Asked a second time for whom she planned to vote, Levine finessed the question, saying, “We’re all either Bernie or Bloomberg. Except one person. And there he is. Hey, Izzy!”
Spry at 86, Dr. Isidore Schulman, formerly an oral surgeon in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, wore a button reading, simply, “TRUMP.” He was asked why.
“Because,” he said, removing the Cohiba from his piehole. “All we need is a Jew in the White House.”
Edward Grossman teaches schoolgirls in the Peoples Republic of China advanced texting.