Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I must be too forgiving a person. As usual I find myself in the minority opinion regarding a couple of prominent people in the news who've messed up in the public eye, one recently, the other years ago. To whit, Atlanta Falcon QB Michael Vick and Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings.

Vick of course, lost his cool after Sunday's Falcon's loss to the New Orleans Saints, giving fans "the finger" as he left the field. He released an apology fairly soon after, but he's been raked over the coals by letter writers to the local Atlanta paper and by sports writers across the board. Hastings apparently can't outrun his past impeachment as a federal judge, since Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has found it the better part of political expediency to deny Hastings in his bid to become chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, despite his having the seniority for the post.

The conventional wisdom on these two gentlemen seems to be that (1) Vick is a spoiled brat who should take being heckled and booed and insulted and like it, because after all, he's paid a lot of money as a pro athlete, and (2) that Hastings is a an impeached former judge who should never be allowed any post of power because of his same impeachment from years ago. As usual, I find myself at odds with the almighty CW.

In Michael Vick's case, he's human and he's still very young. Football is an emotional game, and from what I saw last Sunday, Vick may have been one of the few Falcons playing with any amount of courage and heart. He also seemed to be one of the few who was actually upset by the loss. That doesn't seem spoiled to me. I'd WANT my quarterback to be upset when we lose. To castigate him for doing something I was tempted to do last week to the redneck Newnan truck driver who honked his horn at me (after tailgating me for several miles) simply because I was going the posted speed limit seems a little much to me. Simply put, Vick shouldn't have given the obnoxious fan the finger. He did, he aplogized, and he didn't hide from the media later on. Give the young man a break (and some decent receivers and linemen while you're at it.)

In Alcee Hasting's case, I'm reminded of the time when congress tried to keep Adam Clayton Powell out of office, or the time when the Georgia legislature tried to do the same thing to Julian Bond. Hastings is a duly and legally elected member of Congress since 1993. He was never found guilty in a court of law for any actions as a judge. By all accounts he's served on the Intelligence committee faithfully and honorably during his tenure in Washington. His impeachment in the House of Represetatives was overturned in Federal Court only to lose on appeal when the Supreme Court said Federal Courts had no jurisdiction in the case. It's a travesty that he was bypassed for the Chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee. If I didn't know better I'd swear it's because he's of African-American descent.

Let me make a point here before I get castigated for the previous remark. I'm just a fat old white guy starting to lose his hair, but I've been around long to see this kind of thing for years now. Examples? Plenty, just off the top of my head. Maynard Jackson doesn't get the Democratic National Committee Chairmanship in 2001. Herman Cain can't win the Georgia Republican primary for Senator in 2004. Andrew Young can't win the Georgian Democratic primary for Governor in 1990. Sylvester Crooms can't get the coaching job at Alabama in 2003 (just for fun, ask Alabama if they'd take him now?). Kweisi Mfume can't get win the Maryland Democratic primary for Senator this year. Republican Michael Steele can't win the general election for same. Harold Ford, Jr. can't win the election for Senator from Tennessee in 2006. The list goes on and on. In every case I've mentioned one can make a logical case why race had nothing to do with the outcome. Maybe so, but it sure does seem that the law of averages would fall a different way just once in a while. In the case of Hastings, he deserved the Chairmanship, pure and simple. He didn't get it. Maybe next time, but if I were a member of Congressional Black Caucus I'd be mad about this one.

Not that they should give the House Democratic leadership the finger or anything though...

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