I was clear with the referee, following several attempts by the hockey team on the other side of the rink to hurt and intimidate my best player. Either he would get hold of the game or I would okay the players I coach to take severe retribution upon the next person to look sideways at my star.
Lest you think me barbaric, let’s get some context out of the way. We are not talking about children, but grown tough men. And as a player myself, I was not threatening to do what I myself would not have enforced. Although in the interest of truth, my somewhat small and aged person does not exactly strike fear into even goldfish, and I have teamates quite able to discharge such duties. Nonetheless, I was prepared to do what had to be done, if called upon.
As the coach, I have a responsibility to run the game in a way that offers my club the best chance to win and the least chance of getting injured unnecessarily. As such there are times when a dose of hardball, if you will, is needed when and if we are no longer playing by the rules.
The referee looked at me like I had become death. “Bobby,” he said, “I can’t believe you are talking like this.” He was relating to my normal ‘nice guy’ persona, the one that is me until I recognize that I am in a fight. I assured him that I was in earnest and that if the rules were enforced, if he and his partner were going to ensure a level playing field, I would not be compelled to make this a one side wins at all costs scenario. I was willing to lose by the rules. But I would not see one of my players get hurt if it meant I could hurt the other guy first.
It sounds harsh, but an acknowledgement of reality that any adaptive human ought to recognize; unless, of course, he is the well intentioned, though apparently naïve, President Barack Obama. The president, it would seem, keeps waiting for the referees—in this case the instincts of his fellow elected officials—to do what is right for the country.
To be fair, the problem exists on his side of the isle as well. But since he is the president, he is the defacto leader of all the people and must, as the coach does, put their well being ahead of his party. And like the coach, even a dumpy, short one at that, he must be willing to raise the stakes to protect his own.
With apologies to true believing Tea Partiers (my apology respects only that they have sincere beliefs about the economy), the practice of taking extreme positions, like no tax increases or no upward adjustment to the debt ceiling, is an intellectual and political act of war, and the president must see it as such. Continued failure on his part to identify this clear and present danger that has already cost the country economically and in its stature around the world, will rightly cost him his job.
Like most people, I think, I have always hovered around the middle, resisting the tilt towards the left in the sixties and seventies, and the more recent turn to the right. Most of us, I believe, try to be fair. But maybe it is time to take sides and accept that we are in a fight.
Indeed, I wonder if I don’t owe an apology to the soon to be retired senator from Connecticut, Joe Lieberman. When he voted against Obama’s initial health care bill it was widely understood to be payback for the failure of the Democrats to back him up when he ran as an independent a few years ago. Screw the people, but make the democrats pay, was my very vocal interpretation of his actions. I was probably correct.
But, sad to say, senator Lieberman, one can see now, was right to do it. And I am sorry Senator. If there are no referees you better leave a little blood on the floor. Tell it, please, to the guy in the White House. He is in the fight of his life.