This has been one of those weeks that has caused me to look upon Friday in the same way I used to look at November 30 when I lived in Houston. That’s the end of hurricane season, by the way.
Joe Paterno and Penn State
I’ve not seen a university, or its sports program, have the kind of grip on so many people in a specific geographic area as Penn State does on the state of Pennsylvania. There are schools in Texas that have deep loyalty among numerous alumni, but they have a lot of in-state competition. In Pennsylvania, there’s Penn State. Pitt and Temple are much smaller, with a much more regionally oriented following. Penn State, with branches scattered everywhere, enrolling nearly a hundred thousand students, is dominant everywhere. Even students at the branch campuses wear the dark blue and shout, “We are…Penn State!” And there is no other name more closely associated with the university than that of Joe Paterno.
So, I’ve had a front row seat to everything that’s been happening, with local media coverage as well as national. It’s been intense to say the least. The bottom line is that the state law, which only requires employees who witness such incidents to report them to their immediate supervisor, is going to get changed. Beyond that, I don’t think either the media or the general public will ever know the whole story. Those who are the closest to Coach Paterno are defending his character and integrity. I hope that’s the way it is. And perhaps, because it happened at Penn State, the media publicity that it generated will prevent such things from happening again.
As the GOP Turns, Starring Herman Cain and Rick Perry
I’ve never been a supporter of Rick Perry. I lived in Texas for all but the last fifteen months of his term as governor, as well as his six year stint as Lieutenant Governor, and I just didn’t see anything that impressed me, or that would make me want to vote for him. When he announced he was getting into the nomination race, I said that his “popularity” would fade after about two or three weeks because of two things. One, at some point he would have to open his mouth and speak, including participating in debates and making speeches on the stump. And two, he would be forced to run on his record. What record, you may ask? That’s exactly the point. As the longest serving Governor of Texas, he doesn’t have one.
He’s not a great public speaker, and his accent, articulation and pronunciation of words makes him sound, frankly, like a hick. The sputtering, memory lapses, and inability to form complete, coherent sentences may make a majority of voters in Texas feel like you’re one of them, but it isn’t an asset when you are running for President of the United States. But Perry’s biggest problem is that he lacks any ability to identify with the vast majority of voters in this country. He’s a wealthy man, heavily invested in the energy business and in insurance, and his main interest is advancing an agenda that will help them increase profits at the expense of their employees and customers, in other words, at your expense and at my expense. That, combined with his continued insistence that Social Security and Medicare are “entitlements”, which has sunk his boat with voters over 65, is the reason he’s fallen so far, so fast. I think, in spite of the rhetoric, we’ll be hearing fairly soon that he’s decided to stay in Austin and continue to help Texas replace its good paying jobs and benefits with minimum wage jobs, instead of going on to Washington to help the rich become richer, and to extend the current unemployment and economic crisis, which is exactly what he would do.
As far as Herman Cain goes, there’s sure a lot of smoke that hasn’t burst into flame yet. His problem in trying to defend himself is similar to Perry’s in that he has to open his mouth and speak in order to do it. At this point, he is his own worst enemy. Other than Clarence Thomas, he’s the only African American who has been defended against these kinds of allegations by the right wing media. If he’d been a Democrat, or even a moderate Republican, Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter and others of their ilk would have already condemned him and written him off.
Cain wasn’t really on my radar screen until he suddenly began to win straw polls as Perry faded. His strength comes about because upwards of 60% of Republicans don’t like Romney, so anyone who seems to be an alternative, and isn’t an extremist, moves up quickly. I don’t think Cain was headed for the nomination prior to these accusations coming out, and whether or not they prove to be true, the distraction they create, pulling him into defensive mode and off message, will effectively keep him off the ballot. There are more than just a few people who think Romney is behind this, and if that is the case, and there is an investigation which clears Cain of any wrongdoing, it would create a lot of problems for Mit.
Yeah, it was quite a week for the GOP, too.
On a Personal Note
All of the developments this week, and the time I spent watching them, helped me get through what was a very tough week. I won’t go into details, but as part of my job, I had to make a very difficult decision that required a lot of very intense thought, and a lot of prayer, as well as the spiritual discernment to figure out the answers. That all happened at the end of last week, and once the decision was made, I spent an agonizing weekend waiting to deliver the news. Once that was done, the distractions were welcome. Confirmation of having made the right decision has been received, but it still didn’t make it easier.
I’ve also found a lot of comfort in the companionship of others who have been in similar positions and have had to make similar decisions. And I have to wonder, when such decisions come to people who don’t know the Lord, and don’t have Jesus, how they get through it.
Yep. Quite a week.