Cleaning out my notebook
On Biden, Reagan, and the New England Patriots
I need to clean out the notebook in my head so indulge me if you please. It may be more analogous with erasing an Etch A Sketch. So here it goes.
I witnessed the slow death of New England Patriots Exceptionalism at the hands of the Buffalo Bills in the opening wildcard playoff round. My Patriots had no compete that day. Yes, they had an improved season compared to Year One Sans Brady. The coach can still coach. Their rookie quarterback looks like a keeper. He may even lead the Patriots to a Superbowl victory down the road. The Patriot Way still works. Former Patriot Rob Ninkovich describes Patriot Way as follows.
“The way that Bill coaches his team to be putting the team first, not selfish, doing what’s best for the team, putting the team’s goals in front of your own personal goals.
Alright, I know some of you haters out there will say cheating is their way. The truth is the Patriots fielded a generation’s worth of hard-working, talented, and focused players and coaches that kept winning. I am not here to change any minds. Just recognizing what has passed. What has died is the idea that the Patriots are inherently better than the rest of the NFL. For a generation, opposing teams often lost to the Patriots before the opening kickoff. The Patriots will play exceptionally again, as long as the hoodie coach prowls the New England sidelines. But Patriots Exceptionalism as I know it is a thing of the past.
It has been a tough stretch for patriotism in general. There are people out there that believe it is patriotic to storm the nation’s Capital and disrupt a legal transfer of executive power. Others believe it is patriotic to scorn mask-wearing and vaccinations in the midst of a pandemic.
I guess when I was a kid that patriotism was saved for constructive causes and activities. Marching from Selma to Montgomery and protesting Jim Crow voting restrictions was patriotic. Standing outside a church on a cold Sunday morning yelling to the world “f**k Joe Biden” is not patriotic.
There is a house a couple of miles from me that hung a banner “F**k You… Thank God for the First Amendment”. I guess the guy had a beef with a new housing development abutting his property. I’ll bet would-be home buyers loved seeing that sign, but I am ready for foul ball patriotism to be a thing of the past.
New Hampshire is a hotbed for rabid libertarians. Angry libertarians go into the political manifestation of anaphylactic shock at any hint that their personal freedoms are being abridged. The “long train of abuses” for today’s “summer soldiers and sunshine patriots” revolve around preserving the right to be selfish during a pandemic.
I find myself nostalgic for Ronald Reagan. I am old enough to know that Reagan was not perfect. Time has passed and the man has mingled with the myth. We need some Reagan again. I am talking leadership and optimism more than policy.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate his conservatism too. When Reagan spoke, I felt like he was talking to just me. His message was always concise, positive, and I always felt better after listening to him. The ‘last guy’ occupying the Oval Office rarely made me feel better after hearing him. I may have agreed with his substance at times, but demagoguery is not my thing. That’s the nicest way I can put it.
I listened to part of President Biden’s press conference and I had the sensation of being tongue-tied, even while remaining silent. I really wanted him to do well. I am on team USA and want to see my quarterback throw a touchdown. He was not concise. I felt like I was trying to pull the right words out of him. I could sense when he hesitated and drifted off message. I did not feel better after hearing him yesterday.
By the way, Reagan was also poor at press conferences. He did have a knack for sticking on point and not deviating, but when Reagan wanted to speak to the American people he would just address us directly and not use the press conference format. Reagan had the ability to simplify. He knew what he wanted as an end result and could articulate his point of view in a way that we all could understand.
I guess we will remain rudderless for another three years in Washington. Somewhere out there is a person with the energy, smarts, charm, and communication skills that we need to ford our turbulent waters.
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