Friday, November 7, 2008


In the past couple of weeks, I have had a series of milestones involving three of the best athletes I have ever coached. Two weeks ago, I attended the wedding of a young man who, until recently de-throned, had been the best miler I ever had. He also is one of the finest Christian young men I've ever known. He's now a youth and family minister at a local church, and helps me out as a volunteer assistant coach.

Last week, the captain of my 1997 team, with whom I had lost contact, found my number and we got back in touch. He's 29 now, married (his was actually the first wedding of a former student to which I was ever invited, but it was in Kansas), and sent me an email with photos of his two sons. He and his wife are adopting two boys they have been foster parents for. I'm so proud of him!

And this week, I attended the funeral of arguably the best athlete I ever coached, and also an incredible young man. He was killed in an auto accident last weekend. That was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do as a coach.

I guess over 15 years I have coached 500-1000 kids total. A very small minority of those have remained close to me after graduation. They are the ones that give me untold satisfaction with the career field I have chosen. Words cannot express how much it means to me to have been a part of the lives of these three.

Post-Election Thoughts

No time for a long post-mortem. But pretty much everything I said would happen came out just as predicted. To put the race in historical perspective, it was a slightly bigger margin than Bush 43 won by in 2004, but slightly smaller than Bush 41's margin in 1988. The electoral vote margin was similar to Clinton in '92. So a very "normal" election (thank goodness, no drama this time). It was, however, the biggest popular-vote margin for a Democrat since before I was born (1964, Johnson in one of history's biggest landslides ever over Goldwater). Since then, the previous best showing by a Dem was 50.1% by Carter. This is also the first time in my lifetime that a genuine liberal has been elected (Carter and Clinton both ran as centrists). Although, to some extent, Obama did, too... whether he'll govern from the middle or the left is the big question, and we'll see how that turns out.

One thing I've found amusing in the past 72 hours is how many of my liberal friends have made a point of checking to see if I'm OK with the result. Nobody has been visibly gloating, which is nice, but I think some have been a little surprised that I'm behaving so "reasonably." I think some folks got so wrapped up in how terrible it would be (to them) if McCain had won that they have a hard time imagining somebody just shrugging it off. In a way, I'm almost glad Obama pulled it off so we can avoid the pain of being told how stupid and racist America was for electing "another Bush." Maybe, hopefully, we can get past the last 16 years of half the country hating the guts of the guy in the White House. Oh, and while I'm being thankful, I guess I should also count my blessings that Obama has almost certainly saved us from ever seeing Hillary Clinton or Al Gore as president.

I'm sure I'll have other political thoughts later on. But that's enough for now.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pre-Election Thoughts

Sorry to all the few of you who have possibly wondered when (if) I was ever going to post again. You'd think that a political junkie would be going at it like gangbusters during this election season. As I indicated earlier, there were a couple of factors in my "radio silence"--first, I explained a long time ago that I'm conservative (and my reasons for it). And that therefore, since Obama is liberal, I wouldn't be voting for him. Nothing about that has changed, and harping on it wouldn't do any good. Secondly, I decided a long time ago to not sink to the lowest level in this political season. I read political blogs daily, and so I've had steady diet of negativity. I just decided not to play. And finally, as I indicated earlier, I just haven't been that enthused by this election. I voted for McCain an hour ago, as he's the least-bad option in this race for someone of my world view. But even if he were to win, I'd only be moderately less unhappy with the outcome. Hard to chearlead when your enthusiasm level is so low.

All that said, with a little over 2 hours until the polls close, I guess I should predict something. For McCain to win, EVERYTHING has to break his way. I happen to think it'll be closer than expected, and I happen to think the polls overstate Obama's case. Still, I can't imagine McCain catching ALL the breaks. Therefore, I predict that Barack Obama will become the 44th president of the United States. (However, I do entertain a small fantasy of pulling it off, just for the sake of seeing the heads of my smug liberal friends explode!)

So, what does this mean in the long run? Well, for starters, it doesn't necessarily mean the end of the world, for either the USA or conservatism. There was hardly any scenario this year that looked good for any Republican. Assuming we don't see an Obama landslide (which I'm not expecting), this means that the best-financed candidate EVER, in a race against a 72-year-old guy not even liked by his own party, running at a time when everybody has a huge case of Bush fatigue, the economy helpfully crashes, foreign policy recedes from the headlines, and the news media gives every possible advantage, can just BARELY pull off a win by pretending to be a center-right moderate. This country is a center-right country, period. That's not likley to change soon.

Secondly, despite all the hype to the contrary, this is NOT the "most important election of our time." Indeed, if I could have only had one, I prefer the victory 4 years ago to now. Had Kerry prevailed in 2004, we would have certainly lost the Iraq war and two conservative Supreme Court Justices would have been replaced by liberals (which also means that the Heller case would almost certainly have gone the other way and the 2nd amendment would already have been gutted, as just one example). Now, the war is all-but won, and the next two Supremes to retire will come from the left side (Stephens and Ginsburg). Assuming Scalia eats his Wheaties, we're looking at living to fight another day, in more ways than one.

I also don't think Obama will be as able to implement a far-left vision as some fear. You may remember Clinton coming to office with a very similar house and senate to what we're likely to have this year, back in 1992. He bit off more than he could chew, and 2 years later, the "Contract With America" put the clamps on him. I think Obama is a smart enough guy to try to avoid that outcome. At least I hope he's that smart. If he tries to govern as the same guy he acted like in the debates, that'll be fine. If he goes hard left, the voters will wise up. As I wrote earlier, it's still basically a center-right country.

One more note about the election. It's a great country we've got. And it's awesome that we, the people, get to choose our leaders. The system isn't perfect, and sometimes we get results I would not prefer. But I respect the system. If the people want this, then that's fine with me. I voted, fair and square, and if I lose, that's OK. (And conversely, if my side happens to pull the upset, I sure hope it doesn't provoke stupidity from the other side!)

Now the waiting begins. I'll be up late watching the polls close, and of course I'll be interested in the outcome. But I have been reminded again this week how little this really matters compared to the big stuff. Tomorrow I will attend the funeral of a young man I coached, one of the all-around best kids I've worked with in 15 years. That is REALLY important. As C.S. Lewis said a long time ago, kingdoms, nations, empires (and presidencies) are temporary. People, made in the image of God, live forever in eternity. Even as we pick a "leader of the free world" in tumultuous times, I prefer to spend the bulk of my energy on what lasts forever.