Thursday, July 31, 2008

top ten list

When John McCain looks back on his campaign for the Presidency and reviews his proudest moments, let's hope he doesn't count yesterday's performance among them.

Does he think that we have forgotten that, at the time he stood on the sideline several months ago and watched Hillary Clinton attacking Barack Obama, he promised that his would not be a campaign based on negative attacks? Did any of us really believe that this was a promise of substance? It is not even the end of July and we have already been subjected to a series of comments from him and those in his camp that turn one's stomach.

The comparing of Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton is a new low that undoubtedly will be surpassed in the near future by yet an even more outrageous comment. Is anyone surprised that McCain is turning to the Republican machine and the veteran's of Bush's re-election bid to give guidance in formulating an image of Obama based not on anything but the worst in political bashing? It is McCain's version of the audacity of hope and it is his audacity of negative hyperbole.

McCain grows smaller every day, as he has already seemed to run out of energy to present his version of what he can bring to America. In a time where this country is struggling to find something positive in a very difficult environment, all McCain can offer is the same old Republican strategy of hit and run. This was an effective tool against Kerry in 2004 and it is clear that this is the centerpiece of what we can expect over the coming months.

McCain has attempted to portray himself as something better than the same old, same old. He was the maverick, unwilling to accept the Republican positions unless it comported with his sense of what was right. He would not take the party line and he would not follow the template for negative campaigning. As his positions of substance have regressed to be in line with party philosophy, so has the promise of a positive McCain disintegrated.

The fear for all of us is the psyche of those who are his audience. The 'when was the last time you beat your wife' statements, if repeated often enough, lead many to question whether an assault did occur. The linking of Obama to vacuous celebrities seems a petty and juvenile strategy aimed to catch the attention and the minds of those most susceptible. We all know that there is no way to stop this beast once it has been unleashed. The ads will increase in rhetoric and frequency as we grow nearer to the election.

We have not even officially chosen our candidates yet. The debates are months off. As we look back in November over the carnage that is sure to take place, I can only wonder where yesterday's comments, approved by McCain, will fall on his top 10 list. For all our sakes, let us have the audacity to hope that the negative hype is squashed and overwhelmed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


We are in the midst of a depression. I don't mean an economic hole, although there is daily evidence to suggest that this is where we are headed, if we are not already there. I mean we are mentally beaten and bruised. We know it, we feel it, we see it. Each day we struggle to put any kind of positive spin on what is spinning out of control. We have lost our way and lost our footing. Led by one who is without vision, without power, and without standing or respect in the worldwide community, we are in desperate need. We must present an image, to ourselves and to the world, of a nation ready to meet tomorrow head on.

We need a rock star. We need a face lift. We know it in our hearts and in our heads. Barack Obama's reception on his recent trip abroad created an absolute mandate, telling us what we must acknowledge. The message sent by the foreign leaders, and by the masses, was that it is not just America that needs hope in itself. It is the world that is demanding and begging to be excited by an America that presents an image of the possibility of greatness.

Can anyone remotely conjure up an image of McCain going on the same trip that Obama just completed and generating anything resembling the type of excitement that we just witnessed?McCain, watching Obama grab the headlines and the imagination of those he met with and spoke to, could do nothing but snipe and complain. If we think it is unimportant how those around the globe perceive us, we are gravely mistaken. We all know that what we are and what we will become is no longer solely a product of our own devices. If we are shunned and minimalized, we are going to have an even harder time digging ourselves out of the morass in which we presently are mired.

A young Andre Agassi led an ad campaign that said image is everything. While we scoff at the emptiness of that thought, in this context it has a resonance that is unmistakably critical. Our starting point as a nation is to project a greatness within us that is ready to come out. It is from this base that everything must flow. We are wounded and we need an infusion of new blood to get us out of our sick beds and back on to our feet. The thunderous applause that Obama received as he looked out on a crowd of 200,000 in Germany should serve as but yet another catalyst for us in our efforts to once again stand tall .

Sunday, July 13, 2008


After 50 years playing at the game, my skills have seemed to abandon me. I took up golf at 6 years of age, and from that point on, it was a natural fit. While I took a few lessons when I was 8 or 9, I don't think that it was the professional advice that molded my game. I was an athlete, and the flow of the swing came to me as easily as walking.

However, at the age of 56, when I look in the mirror, I see little evidence of that young boy. While I play with a friend who, at my age, now regularly hits drives that travel well in excess of 300 yards, I find myself struggling to hit the ball 200 yards. The distance on my iron shots is equally pathetic. I often find myself lying to my fellow players when they ask what club I hit, so as not to be embarassed by my lack of strength. I never take a practice swing, often stating that if I haven't figured it out after all these years, 1 practice swing won't help. I now feel like 15 practice swings would make no difference. I actually shanked a 3 foot putt yesterday. I see chips heading in directions unknown. I find my trusty driver to be foreign object in my hands. I can take comfort in no part of my game. I am a stranger masquerading as me as I wander helplessly for 18 holes.

I have friends who have taken up the game late in life, who are now passing me on the golfing highway. My superiority over them is rapidly disappearing. I blame my lack of ability on anything but a lack of ability. I hurt my back, I am worried about elevated prostate readings, I have a persistent cough, Jupiter is not aligned with Mars, George Bush is still the President, there are only 30 days in September, April, June and November. What has happened?

My sister insists I should be taking lessons. For someone who is inherently lazy, absolutely cheap, and has been forever convinced that the corrections are ultimately within one's power to make, I have rejected the notion that I need outside guidance. A tweak here and there has always been enough to bring my game back. I was always able to pull out from my memory bank some forgotten secret that aligned me physically and mentally. I could handle whatever little missteps I made. I could bring my game back to the level I was comfortable with and have moments of pride in my accomplishments. Now, all I find when I look for these guides, is an empty box. Someone has hidden the answers from me. The cliff notes have been lost, and the company seems to have gone out of business. I am looking into the abyss and am having trouble maintaining my balance.

Is the answer to swallow my pride and admit that after half a century the golfing gods have been wooed away from me by others? Must I make that dreaded phone call that I need help? I still cling to the belief that the light will be turned back on with my next swing, that the high, short and ugly slices and complete mis-hits that now regularly inhabit my game will be replaced with beautiful low hooks that will travel forever, and that I will find birdies and pars to be a regular staple in my golfing diet once again. I refuse to give up on my abilities to find answers on my own. I have seen so many of my friends take lesson after lesson, and go to golf camp after golf camp, convinced that the mystical breakthrough has been achieved. I then watch their games quickly slide back to the same level as previously inhabited. However, with each horrible swing and offending result, I get closer and closer to the seemingly inescapable conclusion that I have to look outside my own devices for an answer.

I think I will give myself one or two more rounds like this before I cry uncle. I will get the names of golfing pros who I can call upon , and carry their phone numbers with me. If and when the weight of my disappointments becomes too much to bear, I will reluctantly start dialing the phone. Until that moment comes I find myself like an addict who believes that salvation can be attained by the sheer belief that you have the inherent power to achieve it. I like to think that I am still the 6 year old boy who found the innate skills to achieve success early and often. I hope that I am correct. However, until the magic reappears, I would strongly suggest that you stay behind me whenever I swing because I have no idea where the ball may be going.