Sorry not to have posted today. Aside from doing the work I usually do to get the opinion pages out, I'm dealing with a lot of e-mails and phone calls related to my personal and professional news — mostly very kind and thoughtful (although not quite all — hey, you know my public).
When I came in this morning, I was going to write something about our governor's latest, which is pretty wild and crazy and outrageous. I decided the headline was going to be, "Can you believe this guy?" I was going to say, he only wants the stimulus on his terms? Oh, yeah, it's all about him, all right, yadda-yadda…
But before I could write it, I got a call from the governor himself, in which he was very kind and gracious — which actually didn't surprise me a bit. On a personal level, I think he's a fine person, even though I wish he weren't our governor. Can you follow that (because a lot of people have trouble with it)? I said so here on the blog back when we endorsed his opponent in 2006:
Sanford. I know him, and I personally like him. I really have to force
myself to look at what he's doing (and not doing) as governor and shove
aside the fact that I like the guy.
I mean, I was kidding around a little when I said I was willing to put my life in his hands back here, but I was also being serious. The fact is that on a personal level he is a fine gentleman. Hand in hand with the fact that he places WAY too much faith in the private sector is the fact that in his private LIFE I see him as a good father and husband and so forth.
Anyway, he was very gracious in saying this morning that while we have had our differences, he had a certain respect for me and my colleagues, and he went on to pay us a compliment that you might find curious, but which I appreciated.
He cited the Teddy Roosevelt saying that "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena." Now, if I stopped there, you would think he actually meant to malign me and aggrandize himself, because here is the context of that portion of the speech TR delivered at the Sorbonne in 1910:
As you can see, it would be easy to cast me and those like me as the "critic," and the governor as the man in the arena.
But his purpose in saying that was to say that he sees me — and my colleagues on this editorial board — as also being in the arena, as among those who take risks, who strive valiantly, "who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause." I thought that was very generous of the governor, and perceptive, too — in that it's smart of him to know that I would LIKE to be described that way.
When I was 22 years old and starting out in this business, I wouldn't have wanted a politician to suggest I was in the arena. I was filled with all that J-school stuff about detachment and objectivity, and would rather have been cast as the critic. But along the way, I started to CARE about what happened to my community, my state, my country, the world — which ruined me as the kind of journalist I once aspired to be, but which I truly hope made me more useful to society. I have worked hard with that goal in mind — that of being useful, of trying to make a difference.
And I truly appreciate the governor recognizing that, and taking the time to tell me.
So, can you believe this guy? Only in this case, I mean that in a nice way.