When I was in high school back in East St. Louis, we were all taken to the auditorium to listen to what I guess was a motivational speaker. We probably had a lot of speakers, but this is the only one I remember. His message was, whatever you do, be the best. If that was all he said, I probably wouldn’t have remembered. But to reinforce his thesis, he said, “I would rather be the best cab driver in East St. Louis, than the second best President of the United States.
I was just a teenager, but that got me to thinking. I figured that the second best President was either Washington, Jefferson or Lincoln, depending on whom you put first. I figured our speaker hadn’t really thought this thing through. He sure got my attention. As I said, I don’t remember anything else a speaker said to my high school class. Maybe things that are really, really stupid are memorable. Maybe that is why Ann Coulter said she prefers Clinton to McCain. Maybe she would also like to be the best cab driver in East St. Louis.
When I attended the Army War College, one of the things a faculty member said to us was, “Remember, the things that got you here will not make you successful from here on out.” I’m a little slow, so it took me a while to figure out what he meant. What I think he meant was that as a junior officer it was important to be uncompromising in the pursuit of military matters. The mission was decided at a higher level and we were to carry it out. Now, as senior leaders dealing with other services and political leaders, it was important to find the best common ground. It may not be the absolute best course of action, but it is better than doing nothing. The word compromise seemed to be finding its way into our thoughts.
I suspect political leaders are faced with this problem all the time. Their ideology may have to give a little to get things done. And, it is important for our country to get things done. If you are a talk show host or a commentator, you can stick to your ideology and forget about getting anything done. And, I guess that’s OK, too. It is just that somewhere down the line, these people need to show some common sense.
I respect Newt Gingrich as an extremely smart guy. I don’t always agree with him, but I think he always has a well thought out justification for his position. And, I probably wouldn’t pass too many litmus tests for these people. I suspect Newt’s views on most political issues are not too dissimilar to that of Coulter or Limbaugh. But, I don’t expect to see him attacking Senator McCain. The Senator may not have been Newt’s choice, but Newt can figure out that McCain is a lot better for our country than Clinton or Obama. I will be surprised if Newt Gingrich doesn’t endorse McCain and work for his election.
Rush Limbaugh used to start out his show (show is the appropriate word) by announcing how many days the country had been held hostage by the Clinton Administration. And now, with Hillary or a more liberal Obama scratching for the presidency, he goes chilly on the soon to be selected Republican candidate. He would probably say that I just don’t get it. Well, with the outcome of the war and the make up of the Court at stake, I guess he’s right. I just don’t get it.