The Pride Before The Storm

Let me start this column by saying I know I’m not God’s gift to — well, to anyone, unless maybe my mother.

Often, I fall into some luck and get something accomplished. At least as often, I goof up and find myself another step backward.

Come to think of it, everything I write in this column or in all my columns could be wrong.

I’m human.

Why the humility? Because I’d rather confess my shortcomings now than see my career and life crumble. Over the years, I’ve witnessed the lives of too many others fall apart, often shortly after it looked like they could do no wrong.

Take the Bush administration. It’s had to back down or apologize more times in the past six months than in the previous six years. Most recently, it was over the alleged politically motivated dismissals of some U.S. attorneys. But that’s just the latest example.

The president, for so long cocky and defiant, has apparently come to the painful realization that with friends and political associates like his, who needs enemies? Too many supposed allies have lied to him over the years. Now he seems to sense that his original confidence was built on faulty ground.

To Bush’s credit, he looks to me to be one of only a few major public figures right now who have been able to swallow their pride and exhibit a change in attitude. It’s been for the better.

Over the past 10 years, the Republican Party has been on a roll in state after state. Then — perhaps predictably — everybody seemed to get too big for their britches. Nonstop are now coming stories of this Republican governor or that throwing a fit in private, or defiantly making unpopular political appointments or public edicts.

Even state legislators have gotten into the act. In some GOP-controlled states, where Republican majority power is still a fairly new concept, top legislative leaders too often prance around their capitol buildings, dismissing the press, pushing blatantly unpopular bills, or opposing good and reasonable legislation on narrow philosophical grounds.

Even some outspoken and believed infallible media darlings have taken a tumble. Ann Coulter finally spewed one too many off-the-cuff mean comments. Now she’s been tossed by many newspapers and must go to the "Martha Stewart School for Nice Makeovers."

Coulter wouldn’t have been shot down by her own supporters had she been a little less pious and admitted that she is fallible, like the rest of us humans.

I don’t want to wish her ill. We all misspeak and regret our comments. On the plus side, Ann’s experience may prove instructive to all who tend to comment too harshly.

Then there are the Democrats — riding their high horse, investigating every possible misdeed that has allegedly taken place during the Bush presidency.

Only the most recent example is the firings at the U.S. Justice Department. Has anyone bothered to remind the Democrats that when Bill Clinton first became president, he canned just about every U.S. attorney, leaving the system far more vulnerable than it is now, with only a handful of vacancies?

Hubris and ego are keeping the two political parties from even considering compromise on anything. It seems that every elected leader has to flex his or her muscle in order to establish some hollow, abstract concept of political might.

To what end? We still have budget deficits, war, illegal immigration, a perpetual threat of mass violence by terrorists, and on and on.

Abraham Lincoln used to quote a poem that reminds us that we all share the common experience of birth and death. The poem’s essence was that with so much that’s humbling in our lives, why should we bother to be so proud?

Our nation needs a break from excessive pride. We need to reaffirm the vulnerability in all men and women, and learn that rising to the top is really only enjoyable if you can still look everyone straight in the eyes.

I’m not sure whether we’ll ever see the age of inflated egos and hyped personalities subside. Perhaps that age is every age.

But we can still hope and pray for it — on bended knees.