John Grindrod: Politics of our times: ‘Tora, Tora, Tora’

October 10, 2012

For those of you who remember your war flicks, you‚??ll, no doubt, recall ‚??Tora, Tora, Tora,‚?Ě the 1970 film that dramatizes the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, certainly one of our country‚??s seminal moments. In Japanese, the word ‚??tora‚?Ě means tiger, which was used as the code word for attack.

Well, that‚??s the word and its translation I‚??ve been thinking about a lot during this run-up to a presidential Election Day.

Now, I‚??ll be the first to admit that I should be the absolute last columnist ever to take a flier on writing a column about politics. Truth be told, Ernest T. Bass knows more about politics than I do.

As a matter of fact, my discussing with any deep understanding or clarity anything political reminds me of a story I once heard baseball announcer Tim McCarver tell about a one-sided exchange he had with Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson.

McCarver was Gibson‚??s regular catcher as a St. Louis Cardinal for almost the entire decade of the 1960s. Because Gibson was notoriously aggressive on the mound and as intimidating a figure who ever toed the slab, even on days he was giving up a lot of hits, he despised the thought that McCarver would even think about going out to the mound to offer counsel.

McCarver recalls going out one time, and before he could even open his mouth to the hulking figure glowering at him, Gibson, through clenched teeth, said, ‚??You just turn around and get back behind the plate. The only thing you know about pitching is it‚??s hard to hit.‚?Ě

My talking politics is about as silly as McCarver‚??s thinking he could give the great Bob Gibson any pointers about pitching.

Frankly, there is so much about politics and politicians that both mystify and annoy me that I wouldn‚??t even know how long the list would be were I to start enumerating. I suppose were I to make such a list, I‚??d have to start it with how much an obstruction partisan politics seem to be. It seems to me that, no matter the party, there are very few politicians willing to reach across the aisle and join with the other party to do something that works for all of us rather than, say, protect their own party‚??s interests.

I can‚??t help but think of our country‚??s very first politicians and their ability to set aside their differences for the greater good. While there were no political parties as we know them today, no doubt, because these men were from different parts of the country, they had different interests.

Certainly business-oriented men such as Alexander Hamilton must have objected strenuously with, say, Thomas Jefferson, who wanted the interest of the farmers held in higher regard. And, if I‚??m remembering my history, while Hamilton wanted a large military, Jefferson felt militias were sufficient to defend America.

Not only did they disagree on issues, there has been quite a bit written about personal differences as well. For example, when both were in France during the Revolutionary War trying to garner colonial support, John Adams, a workaholic and well-known early riser, couldn‚??t have been happy when he was up early and beginning to work seeing Benjamin Franklin just getting in from a long night of socializing.

But, whatever their differences, whether political or personal, these men worked together for the common colonial good. While there, no doubt, was some partisanship back then, it would be hard for me to believe it was as pervasive as what exists today.

As for the ‚??Tora, Tora, Tora‚?Ě mentality of this year‚??s presidential race, with attack ads from both men running seemingly 24/7, I‚??d love to hear from one or the other of these two capable men about not what‚??s wrong with the other guy, but, instead, what‚??s right with them!

So, folks, that‚??s about as political as a guy who listens to far too much sports talk XM radio and far too little to the POTUS (politics of the United States) station can get. We‚??re talking about someone who worries, shamefully, far too much about what the real state of the Yankees‚?? starting pitching is and whether the Browns will ever win a Super Bowl while I‚??m around to see it than what can be done to save Social Security.

But, really, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, I‚??m hoping to hear in the ensuing weeks a lot more about your own qualifications and a lot less about what‚??s wrong with your opponent‚??s.

And, here‚??s a question to whoever emerges victorious. Would it be too much to ask that you use your considerable influence to convince both sides who glare at one another from across the aisle to put aside their differences to do some things like reduce the deficit and get this country economically well grounded again?

We can only hope.

John Grindrod