10 February 2012


by Andy Weddington
Friday, 10 February 2012

"Winners are different. They're a different breed of cat." Byron Nelson

Sometimes I am wrong. Almost always. More on that shortly.

Wednesday was an interesting day. It started with an early rise and opening an email that had one question, "What do you think about Santorum?" I'd not spent any time on the computer Tuesday evening nor watched television so was clueless as to what was happening in politics; a quick check of headlines--surprise, surprise--and the question clear. 

Before heading out for a morning appointment, there was time to read a handful of articles about Mr. Santorum's caucus wins. He indeed surprised some folks--mostly those who predicted Romney had a couple of the three (and the GOP nomination) wrapped up. 

Returning home and thinking more about Santorum, I turned on the television for some talking heads perspective. But before reaching the block of news channels a NatGeo program about mother earth caught my attention. To keep life, and politics, in proper perspective, here's a ray of sunshine--scientists predict in 300 to 400 million years our magnificent oceans will cease to exist. The water will be completely gone--having ever so slowly seeped into outer space. And remaining? Enormous dry 'lake' beds. Another 800 or 900 million years after our oceans disappear our dying sun will actually expand, turn a blinding red, and gobble up everything, to include earth (which will be blown to smithereens), in it's path. 

For the duration of the program, and a while afterwards, politics, in one country, did not seem all that important. But I did take some comfort knowing there are "leaders" and special interest groups (i.e., nuts) already hard at work on this terrible problem our great, great, great, etc., grandchildren will face.

Back to reality.

I watched some of the talking heads, returned to the computer to read, and had planned to watch the evening news on television but there was a problem: the Duke v UNC men's basketball game on ESPN--a game I've been watching since Rusty Clark, Dick Grubar, and Larry Miller played for UNC, and Mike Lewis and Bob Verga for Duke (mid to late 60s). Politics, and everything else, would have to wait.

Not disappointing, the Blue Devils and Tarheels played another great game--maybe one of the best of all time. Duke, down by a dozen most of the second half, hit a three point shot launched with about 1.2 seconds to go--it dropped through some two tenths of a second after the backboard perimeter glowed red indicating time expired. Duke 85 / UNC 84. The Tarheel home crowd sat stunned. Dead silence. Prior to the game, polls had UNC ranked 5 and Duke 9. What do the "experts" know? Not much. It's why games are played. Winners play to the end--Duke did. And I thought some more about Santorum.

Not too long after the game, while sipping ice-cold fat-free milk to wash down Girl Scout lemon cookies (fat-free milk is believed to kill calories), I stumbled on a news program interviewing Marion "Mimi" Alford who--as a nineteen year-old White House intern--had a sexual relationship with President John Kennedy. So I watched. Mimi, as it were, was among many other women who experienced the president--who's coming to light as even more the creep than long believed. I forget the author but his thought was, "All men are creeps. Men of power are the creepiest." One might conclude JFK was the creep in chief. A few thoughts--1) might Lincoln's "Four score and seven..." meant something different to Mr. Kennedy?; 2) 'Camelot?' Hmm; and 3) maybe the unsubstantiated allegations against Herman Cain aren't so bad. Is it too late for him to get back in this thing? He's probably been thinking the same thing.

And then Mr. Santorum's victories came back to mind. And how a year or so ago I was wrong about him. Dead wrong.

Back on 13 May 2011 commentary titled, 'Reality TV--"I Want To Be President"' observed: "Rick Santorum. Who? Maybe a household name in the keystone state and in D.C. but not nationwide. Politician. Representative now Senator from Pennsylvania. Lawyer. No military service. Pro EIT [Enhanced Interrogation Techniques] to include waterboarding. Too many syllables in last name--last president, not counting present, with more than two was Kennedy. Nope."

A few months later, on 25 September, commentary, 'Pol and the Potato Chips Fight,' likened the GOP candidates to bags of Lays flavored chips. As for Mr. Santorum: "Lightly Salted / Rick Santorum. He's been around just long enough to be a little salty. And has visited Limon [Rick Perry] land's border with Mexico, so he told Perry. Claims to be versed in world affairs and policies. Could be. Could be. He won Pennsylvania's straw poll. But like the bag of chips near the bottom shelf, needs to be more visible."

Well, Santorum has been working hard on his visibility and credibility. Through tireless efforts hitting the streets and meeting folks, he's off the bottom shelf. In fact, for the moment, at coveted eye-level, folks are seeing and listening to his message, and they are buying.

Tuesday evening, confounding the "experts," Santorum swept caucuses in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri. To date he's won half of the caucuses. He's besting Gingrich and Paul and pressing Romney. And his rise contrary to what the "experts" predicted--that he'd already be toe-tagged among the dispatched alsorans Bachmann, Cain, Huntsman, Johnson, and Perry. What do the "experts" know? Not much. It's why Americans vote.

As to the other contenders likened to a bag of chips...

"Salt & Vinegar / Mitt Romney. Too much salt is not good for your health. Some advise potato chips are not good for your health. Neither is RomneyCare--no matter how packaged. He's still explaining that one. A smoother chip than Limon, he, too, is on the shelf at eye-level, at least for now. Some consumer 'taste tests' (polls) have him #1 but that could easily change and probably will. Consumers are fickle.

Classic / Newt Gingrich. He's been around and knows the game. Classic politician. Full of ideas--some good. A silver haired and tongued devil. Attire and hair second to Bachmann. Legs? Some things you just don't want to think about much less see. It doesn't look like he's ever seen a bag of chips he didn't like.

Wavy-Original / Ron Paul. The oldest candidate and therefore, by default, has seen the most--which counts for something. Probably remembers when all potato chips were handcut and deep-fried in lard and heavily salted. And when waves, ridges, and ruffles were invented. Bright guy with practical, original ideas though not without an occasional odd comment. A respectable debater with a patriotic heart but doubtful to improve shelf space."

Though tongue-in-cheek, seems like decent analysis and logical opinion that's holding up.

Tuesday and Wednesday I had a couple of interesting exchanges with a reader that centered around the character of those who opt to run for public office and namely the presidency. My belief is we do not get the best America has to offer--that is, some folks of impeccable character who'd be superb leaders simply are not willing to enter the arena. It's our loss. He, on the other hand, is not so sure but believes those who do run are respectable people, clearly not without faults (as are all humans), wanting to make a difference. Noted. There was more depth to our 'debate' but that's the gist. Somewhere in the fuzzy middle is reality, but absolutely there is no perfect candidate. Winners and losers is a matter of perspective.

Anyway, Mitt Romney is hanging around, not because he sends shivers up voter's legs, but thanks to name recognition, 2008 candidacy, and piles of money. Perry and Cain and Gingrich each enjoyed brief time on the eye-level shelf and being flavor of the month. Two of the three are gone. Now the flavor of choice is Santorum--a fighter, proving to be a winner, literally, determined to play to the end. He just might end up the flavor. It's still early. Who knows?

But no matter who opposes the incumbent, the choices for president could not be more different--the cats breeds apart. Talking a good game will not get it done--this time. The winner will be the one who fights through ups and downs and highs and lows, who plays to the end. The loser? The losers? We'll see. Though no one really cares.

Post Script

Not favored in the game, coaching was the difference in Duke's win.

Though basketball and politics are different, there are parallels between winners and losers. Maybe coaching, atop an able not-to-be-denied man, explains Mr. Santorum's wins.

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