Finneran: SOTU, Super Bowl, Etc.
Friday, February 08, 2019
The State of the Union carnival should be done away with. In fact, President Trump might want to get the ball rolling in ending this national farce, earning credit for some long-overdue executive modesty. How’s that for ironic? Donald Trump, life-long lover of television’s klieg lights, says enough is enough, mimicking Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, all of whom were equally suspicious of the habits of men in pursuit of power.
It’s a certainty that the bright lights and the breathless attention of the press—a totally fake breathlessness I might add—act as an irresistible magnet for pols. All the more reason to do away with the phony fanfare.
Perhaps Ronald Reagan and John Kennedy, equally telegenic and equally comfortable in front of the network cameras, engaged in these self-aggrandizing spectacles. I simply do not have a clear memory of their habits. I’d wager a bundle of money that neither Harry Truman nor even the ever clever Dwight Eisenhower indulged in this emperor-like orgy of promises and self-congratulation. Their generation actually believed that modesty was a virtue. How quaint.
Consider Bill Clinton however. In love with the sound of his voice, intoxicated by the huzzahs of a cheerleader press, his State of the Union speeches were epic in length, testaments to stamina and the chutzpah of hucksters. He should have reflected on Kipling’s impostor of “triumph”.
Consider “W’ Bush, a mangler of language, yet finely attuned to the prevailing yet absurd notion that being “presidential” includes the need to deliver a SOTU address. Give me a break. As a citizen, I am of course interested in the actual state of the union. Might a President consider submitting it in writing to the Congress, foregoing the spectacle of monarchy and relieving the Congress of the need to pretend they are interested?
Finally, consider Presidents Obama and Trump, two peas in a pod when it comes to surging egos. Their DNA simply does not allow them to think of anything beyond their self-absorption and self-congratulatory impulses. Obama of course reveled in the circus, knowing that the press, in its adulation of all things Obama, could be counted on for a manicure, a pedicure, and a total body massage. Trump comes from the other extreme, counting on the disdain of the press, and reveling in thumbing his nose at them by going over them.
Enough is enough. Less monarchy, more modesty.
THE SUPER BOWL:
The commercials were lousy. The halftime show was worse. I’m sticking with my suggestion from last week---top-notch college marching bands going head to head. If the coaches would let them, I’d bet that most of the players would stay on the field to watch the bands do their thing. The music, the marching, the dancing, the acrobatics---the sheer teamwork and discipline are a hundred times better than some gyrating fool who can’t sing. Bring on the bands.
Re the game itself, Edelman as MVP was the right call. Edelman himself modestly and accurately said that the award should go to the Patriots defense. I won’t argue his point. The defense was superb. Give Belichick credit. He flustered and confused another young quarterback. Such quarterbacks are his favorite prey.
Two takeaways from the Patriots playoff run:
- The offensive line played outstanding football. They won’t be modeling any Speedos for the summer season but they sure can protect Tom Brady. He should buy each of them a pickup truck with extra-strength shock absorbers;
- It remains a mystery why three good quarterbacks and three good teams ---Phil Rivers (Chargers), Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs), and Jared Goff (Rams)---do not try to do to the Patriots what Tom Brady does to them. Short slants, quick outs, crossing patterns, and the occasional flare to a back coming out of the backfield cannot be stopped. The ball is out of Brady’s hand in a nano-second, negating the pass rush and leaving the opposing secondary scrambling to recover from the illegal but never called “pick play”. At this rate, Brady’s comparative arm strength is meaningless. He can play until he’s a grandfather or 60, whichever comes first.
Pity the rest of the NFL.
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