Totems -- pedestrian and equestrian equations

Tuesday , August 14, 2012 - 12:05 PM

John W. Reynolds

A lot of folks are indignant that the Romneys own a show horse; Ann Romney even participates in riding and has found it therapeutic. These four-legged athletes are a special breed and require careful handling by knowledgeable trainers. They are also very valuable and can win money and prestige for their owners. A major difference between show horses and professional athletes who play soccer, baseball, basketball and football is the number of legs.

A typical NBA game with 10 players on the floor at any given time will have 10 multimillionaires playing; double that number if you count those on the bench. An NFL game would have three or four times more multimillionaires on the field; baseball and soccer would have comparable numbers.

Two- and four-legged athletes have much in common; competitiveness, heart, skills, and wealth, and, have relatively short careers. One may be "put down" if a leg is broken but will never embarrass its fans, do drugs, get into trouble in bars, beat its wife or spend time in prison. Perhaps this is why some people prefer equestrian to pedestrian athletes.

So why is this comparison of athletes relevant? It may not be, but it speaks to the lies being bandied about this political season. Lies and innuendo were offered from Democrats about Ann Romney’s equestrian interest. Both sides are working overtime at telling half truths and passing them off as fact.

The most egregious so far in the campaign is the story of a man who had worked at a company once owned by Bain Capital whose wife died after he was no longer employed at the company; and that’s about the extent of truthfulness in this ad. The political ad as shown on TV would have us believe that Mitt Romney was personally responsible for the wife’s death.

An Alaskan Indian tribe has a pole used for public ridicule created to shame individuals or groups called a "Shame Pole." There is one such pole dedicated to former Secretary of State William H. Seward. It is located in Saxman, Alaska and denotes a broken promise. On the totem pole of political lies the ad about the widower should sit at the top just above Harry Reid’s lies.

Also high on the Shame Pole would be President Obama’s words "you didn’t build that" in reference to success in business. By his definition of success, even that of athletes would be only partially credited for winning championships or gold medals. You probably won’t hear those words from the president to our Olympic medal winners or to any other athlete. It’s easy to see why the president would feel this way given that his whole career has been in some form of government position and he has a decidedly unfriendly attitude toward business. Most of us are cognizant of the fact that our success is often assisted by others and we give credit where due, but it shouldn’t diminish the fact that individual effort is indispensable in achieving success.

To be politically active this year there seems little choice but to get down and wallow in the mud with others, and maybe that’s the nature of the beast; that’s how it is in the high-stakes game we find ourselves in this election cycle. But wouldn’t it be great if there were limits to the number and frequency of lies that could be told. Actually there is a limit; that which American voters calculate in their minds and memories. When candidates and political parties cross the line they are toast. The line doesn’t have a number on it, a rating or flashing lights. But, there still exists in the hearts of most Americans a feeling of right or wrong and they are pretty good at detecting baloney when they put their minds to it.

This election year there will be a lot of silent, mental alarms going off unless the candidates decide to have real discussions and put forth real plans to help the people and this country.

Bringing this country together seems further away than ever. This administration has done a horrible job of uniting Americans and unfortunately the "divider in chief" bears the greatest blame. On that score he deserves his own "Shame Pole."

Now, a final sports analogy: The GOP is on target with Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan as his VP running mate. They’ve shot the "n’t" out of "you didn’t make that." The two are men of integrity, faith, fiscal conservatism, and accomplishment. They are great family men who believe in a great future for America.

Reynolds lives in Pleasant View. He is a retired businessman and member of the Kiwanis Club of North Ogden.

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