So, let’s take ’em one at a time. First, whipping up on Obama.
When the House was rushing toward impeachment of President Clinton, a lady in the circulation department of The Star sighed with bitter resignation, “Why don’t they leave that man alone? They’ve been pickin’ at him since his first day in office.”
She could say the same thing about President Obama. Remember what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said was his party’s No. 1 priority? It was not …
A bipartisan plan to recover from the Great (Bush) Recession; not helping Europe avoid a recession that would shrink the world’s economy; not a policy for dealing with Syria and a whole region in turmoil; not how to wind down the (Bush) wars; not how to relieve the nagging anxiety of 30 million to 50 million American citizens that one serious illness would bankrupt their family, a fear no other great nation inflicts on its people; not to repair our worn-out infrastructure and build an Asian-style rapid-rail system, putting millions to work for years.
No, not one of those was at the top of the agenda. McConnell told the National Journal, “The single most important thing we have to achieve over the next two years is for Obama to be a one-term president.”
Everything the Republican leader has said and done naturally would be on behalf of his party’s No. 1 objective. Consequently, everything the president has said or done has been a deceitful lie and anything that has gone wrong is his fault.
The heat and persistence with which Mitt Romney and all Republicans have scorched the health-care law leads one to think that the very idea of allowing the working poor to have adequate care makes Republicans angry.
It is credible to believe that if Obama had won the Harvard-Yale basketball game with a layup in the last second because a referee didn’t see he had double-dribbled, and Republican opposition researchers uncovered the foul deed, there would be hearings in the House and McConnell would demand a special counsel to investigate.
Cable TV would talk 24/7 about the scandal known to headline writers and historians as:
Since we’re on the subject of imaginary sports stories, it makes for an easy transition to the real thing, Wimbledon. As a former captain of my prep school’s (not very good) tennis team, I’m a fan.
Now, I wouldn’t dare disparage the vast horde of golf enthusiasts. It would be unthinkable to defile the sacramental solemnity of Augusta, but compare the tax on the bodies of the players.
Both are played on grass, and there the similarity ends.
No golf carts like those used at public courses support the gladiators of Wimbledon: Two men with minimal body fat pound balls at each other with speeds greater than any Major League baseball pitcher — serves up to 150 miles per hour — for as many as five hours of craft, skill, concentration and endurance.
Match point won.
In addition this year to the awe and disappointments of the players, I was infected with some fanciful thoughts by the ceremonial correctness of the British, the military precisions of the lines-callers as they enter the arena, their white pants in single file, not a one out of step. I also covet their dark-blue jackets with the white piping, the blue shirts with white collars and Wimbledon striped ties.
The ball boys and girls also affect the order of a military school and are drilled in a constantly moving conveyor of balls, which they offer at attention as if in a salute to servers with the expressionless reserve of a Coldstream Guard officer.
What, I thought, could a gifted musician and choreographer make of the “March of the Linesmen” and “The Ballet of the Ball Boys.”
That would be a show!
There being no graceful segway from whimsy to historical reality, I’ll just offer a couple of thoughts about Robert Caro’s massive history of Lyndon Johnson, whose latest in the series is entitled, Passage to Power.
First is the sincerity of his commitment to the programs of “The Good Society.” In Johnson’s mind were the pinched, hardscrabble lives of the Texas hill country from which he came. He wanted to give them, and all Americans like them, an even shot at a better life.
Next, the elegant court circle around President Kennedy (excepting the president himself) did themselves no honor by the crude manner with which they scoffed at large, loud, graceless Lyndon.
Lyndon Johnson was closer to the way average Americans act as they go about the inelegant business of their lives. The condescending Kennedy Court was looking down on the majority of Americans.
Well, them’s my thoughts. I told you they wouldn’t hang together, and they didn’t.
H. Brandt Ayers is the publisher of The Star and chairman of Consolidated Publishing Co.