Friday, June 3, 2011

The Truth About Aiming

We have endured our first hot spell of the summer season here in the State of Concrete Gardens this week.  Beginning on Saturday we went through a period of five days in which the temperature either approached or vaulted 90 degrees and the humidity reached "attempting to inhale from inside of a sweaty gym sock" levels.  A bit of sanity returned yesterday (and today is supposed to kind of, sort of replicate yesterday) but it is summer in Jersey.  It shall be stifling hot and humid.  And then we shall wake up one morning and discover that it is October. Soon thereafter it will be winter and those of us lamenting the type of weather we have just endured shall express our longing for it.  Indeed, the grass truly is always greener through the pickets.

You might have seen the item in the paper a day or so ago regarding Shaquille O'Neal's retirement from professional basketball.  I care little to not at all about pro hoops.  I know that the NBA Finals are being played this week.  I know that Miami is playing Dallas.  I know that if they played the games in my backyard, I would draw the blinds in my den shut and never bother to look outside.  While I am not a fan of the sport in which he made his fortune, Shaq has been (since he first appeared on the scene playing for crazy man Dale Brown at LSU with Stanley Roberts and Chris Jackson) one of my favorite athletes/athletic personalities.

My affection for him - admittedly - has as much to do with the off-the-court side of him as it does with anything he ever did on a basketball court.  Shaq has always identified his stepfather Phillip Harrison as his father, having been estranged from his biological father at an early age.  As a parent who has no biological link to either of his children - and yet has never referred to either (and shall never) as a "stepchild", I have often thought of Shaq as sort of the Patron Saint of Step Parents. 

Those of here in the State of Concrete Gardens were given yet another lesson in the never-ending series of "Perception Becoming Reality".  On Tuesday afternoon, our Governor wanted to catch a bit of his son's State playoff baseball game, which was being played in Bergen County.  Apparently the Governor's schedule called for him to be back in Trenton for a meeting - with people from Iowa of all places who are trying to schmooze him into seeking the Republican nomination for President in 2012 - so driving round-trip from Trenton was not an option.  He and the Missus arrived at the ballpark in one of the State's super cool State Police helicopters

Much has been made the past couple of days over (a) the legality of the use of the chopper; and (b) the Governor's obligation to reimburse the public for its use for a purely personal reason.  With regard to the latter, his position initially was, "Pfffffttt!"  At or about midday yesterday, the announcement was made that reimbursement for the use of the helicopter had been made.  Reimbursement should have been immediate and made without having to been made to look as if he had to be cajoled into doing it. With regard to the former, there is little doubt in my mind that the use of it was 100% legal.  It was however, in this one man's opinion, equally inappropriate.  The issue respectfully is not whether it cost taxpayers such as the fellow I see in the bathroom mirror every morning when I shave money.  The issue is the perception of what was done.  The perception that one must be imbued with a sense of boundless arrogance to do what was done and thereafter when facing some criticism for it to assume a position of defiance.  A stunning example of tone-deafness.  Remarkable really. 

In anticipation of anyone reading this man's criticism of what the Governor did and ascribing a political bent to it, take note of the fact that you are barking up the wrong tree.  I voted for him when he ran for the office and - presuming he runs for re-election - I intend to vote for him again.  He is a guy to whom I can relate with little difficulty:  he is only a few years older than I am, both of us are lawyers by trade and training, both of us are Republicans, both of us have waged war with our waistlines on a recurring basis (although I think it might have behooved him to walk the 100 yards from landing pad to bleachers once he arrived at his son's game as opposed to being driven), both of us are graduates of Seton Hall University's School of Law and we are both ardent and long-time Springsteen fans. 

None of those things changes the fact that whether you are the head groundskeeper at a country club, chief bottle washer at the restaurant, CEO of a Fortune 500 company, head football coach at a major university or Governor does not give you unfettered license to act like a horse's ass and - even more so - to thumb your nose at all who have the "audacity" to take you to task for your behavior.  Power carries with it enormous privilege.  But it also carries with it enormous responsibility.  It shall be a long, hot, hazy summer in the State of Concrete Gardens....

....and the Man at the Top just decided to throw another log on the fire.

-AK

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