New York — I spent part of Sunday evening enjoying Battle of the Sexes. This first-rate film very amusingly tells the true story of self-styled male-chauvinist pig Bobby Riggs's efforts to defeat Billie Jean King in a landmark singles-tennis matchup in 1973. This globally televised showdown, Riggs hoped, would deliver feminism an overhead smash and dispatch all of womanhood "back to the kitchens and bedrooms," once and for all.
This surprisingly engrossing picture offers admirable ensemble acting, suspenseful tennis action, and a lovingly crafted recreation of early 1970s design, fashion, and music (including George Harrison's "What is Life?" and Elton John's — wait for it — "Rocket Man.") King's extramarital discovery of her same-sex desires is a major plot point, sensitively handled. Steve Carrell's and Emma Stone's performances in the lead roles should be remembered during awards season. They both disappear into the real-life personalities they portray, particularly Stone.
But the point here is that I saw a movie at all on Sunday night.
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I spent late Sunday afternoon trying to write an open letter to Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) urging him, as a fellow libertarian, to change his mind and support the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. (This was two days before this measure became the GOP Senate's latest epic fail.) I read a number of Senator Paul's speeches on healthcare and identified several key reforms that he advocates. As luck would have it, GCHJ was poised to enshrine many of them in law. Among them:
- Repeal of the individual and employer mandates
- An end to Medicaid expansion in 2020
- Termination of cost-sharing subsidies
- Legalization of association health plans
- A green light for catastrophic coverage
- New life for health savings accounts
- Sudden death for the medical-device tax
- A halt to federal funds for Planned Parenthood, not for good, but for one year
Perhaps reminding Paul of these facts would have helped move him into the Yes column and allowed GCHJ to squeak through the Senate's reconciliation window, which slams shut on Saturday night. With 50 votes needed before Vice President Mike Pence could cast a tie-breaking vote and pass the bill, Republicans have zero wiggle room. Bringing Paul in from the cold could have secured victory.
Then I heard from my friend Sally Pipes, president of the free-market Pacific Research Institute. She has authored scores of articles on Obamacare's failures and the patient-centered policies that would begin to repair its hurricane-like damage. "Cruz is now a NO!" Pipes emailed me at about twilight.
My heart sank. My stomach churned. My blood boiled.
I e-mailed Pipes:
"I have started working on a piece trying to get Rand Paul to vote yes.
"And then Cruz does this, even before Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski get a chance to be the bad guys here.
"At this stage I wonder:
"Why the hell should I spend my evening writing a pointless op-ed piece? Why not go to dinner and see a movie? "If these [expletives deleted] will not do their jobs, why the hell should I do mine?
"That's it. I'm off to a movie."
So, I saw Battle of the Sexes, read the paper and a book at an East Village coffee spot, and then enjoyed some lovely Japanese food. I then got a good night's sleep.