On the Anniversary of 9/11

PentagonI wrote this back in 2009 in response to all the “Where were you when 9/11 happened?” questions and recollections that were being circulated around the Internet.  I’ve reposted it many times in the hope that I’ll continue to recall not just the horrific facts of that day’s events, but the feelings with which I associate it.  To this day whenever I hear replays of the news broadcasts of that day, the feelings, anguish and anger can be nearly overwhelming.

Even though I wasn’t near any of the three places that were scarred forever by the acts of a few, 9/11/2001 changed my life in ways that I could not have imagined then and which I sometimes don’t believe even now.  Regardless, I will never shake the feelings that 9/11 evokes in me nor do I ever want to.  More importantly, I wish that all of us could share the unity, resolve and dedication to our nation and our common defense that we all felt in the days and weeks following that awful day in 2001.

Thanks for reading.

“So, do you think the Army’s going to call you up because of this?”

“I sure as hell hope so.”

That was the big question my supervisor at the E! Channel asked me on 9/11. While I did eventually get called up, I’d gladly give up all the financial and professional gains which resulted if it had never happened. But that’s not what these words are going to be about.

I was awakened that morning by a phone call from my mother-in-law who told us in frantic, disjointed words that something bad was happening. As a native New Yorker, she was understandably shaken at learning that Manhattan was under attack. The message was related to me by my spouse at the time who slammed into the bedroom and shook me awake and said “Wake up! The Pentagon’s under attack!”

I got up, rushed to the TV in a groggy stupor and saw the story as it was unfolding, still in chaos. Information was rolling into news agencies willy-nilly and much of what was heard and reported was unconfirmed. I dressed and hurried to work in the Wilshire District in LA, near the La Brea Tar Pits. The streets of Los Angeles were relatively deserted – not empty as they were during the LA riots in 1992. But it was clear that people were staying home. Businesses closed for the day and many more operated on essential staff only. Which is why I was going to work.

When I arrived at E!, I could see that many of the national cable networks which shared our satellite space had either gone dark or were carrying coverage from one of the big three networks. It was at that moment that the enormity and the immediate practical impact of this event on this Nation became apparent. Even broadcast commerce stopped for a time – shopping networks were carrying round the clock news coverage. Sports channels and others had full-screen graphics up telling people to tune to a network broadcast and follow the news.

One of the positive things about working at a TV network with all measure of high-tech TV equipment is that we could monitor as many TV stations as we had monitors. And we had plenty. CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC all raced to get pictures and firsthand accounts of the unfolding tragedy on the air. I flipped back and forth from moment to moment and channel to channel trying to find the best pictures. No one had a lock on the best, so it was back and forth from channel to channel.

As for what I was doing in between times, E! was trying to decide whether to take coverage from a major news network or stay with the on-air schedule without regard to the situation. My job was to design on-screen graphics in support of either option. Ultimately, E! chose to stay with their own programming rather than switch to one of the majors. I will not debate that decision, but I will observe on my own behalf that I had no interest in entertainment fluff at that point, and I couldn’t imagine anyone else feeling differently.

From the moment it sank in just what was going on, my heart was heavy, but my fists clenched in preparation. When my terrific boss, Ken Mason, asked me if I was going to get called up, not only did I hope so, but I was hoping it would be within the hour. For the rest of the day, most of us sat in network control going about our business with about as much feeling as the machines supporting us. It was quiet and the sounds of our air signal were mixed with the sounds of the coverage coming from ancillary equipment racks where the carnage of the day was being replayed over and over.

I would be many months before I actually got called up and reported here to Washington, D.C. in January, 2002. I spent the next 71 months assigned to the Pentagon in various assignments, some 9/11 related and others not.

A year after the attacks, our office moved into the rebuilt section of the Pentagon and shortly thereafter, the small indoor memorial and chapel was opened. Whenever I thought I was being unfairly put upon, I’d stroll the 30 seconds down the E-ring to the 9/11 memorial and stand for a minute or two.

It gave me perspective in two profound ways. It made me recognize that getting picked on that day wasn’t really so bad, and that any one of these people whose biography and photo were in one of two books would give anything to be in my predicament. Alive. Within reach of those about whom they cared. And it humbled me. Standing there for only a moment made me remember why I was there and that I had better do the best job I could.

Eight years have passed since the attack on our Nation. Today, while driving into my civilian job, I listened to replays of the coverage from that day and remember what it felt like that day. How shocked and horrified. How angry. How resolute. I suspect that will never change. I suspect that I’ll always feel the intense mix of emotions on this day. And I’ll fight back the tears on this day just as I did on this day eight years ago.

For many, the feelings we experienced that day have already escaped us, relegating the horror of the day to a collection of historical facts, figures and stately memorials to those who perished. It is right that we recall the facts and honor those who were murdered that day. However, it is my wish that somehow the shock, horror, anger and resolution I felt – that most everyone felt that morning – stay with us and unite us as it did on 9/11 and in the shadows of that day.

Eight years hence, we find ourselves a divided Nation when in truth, there’s so very much more about us that is alike than those things which divide us.

I wish we weren’t so divided and I have no solution as to how to unite us. I just know that we have it in us. The days following September 11, 2001 were some of America’s finest.

Remember what that was like. Not just today on this horrific anniversary. But every day.

It would serve us all well.

World Affairs When I Was Twelve

In May of 1968, I was twelve years old. One month before my birthday on April 4th, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. One month after my twelfth birthday on June 6th, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Of course, I was only seven when his brother, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX. But I DO remember being let out of school early that day and the wall-to-wall television coverage that ensued. But I got the picture. It was obvious. People killed each other for political reasons.

Even as a newly minted 12 year old I remember wondering if things were this bad when I was twelve, how bad were things going to be when I was finally a grown up. I was genuinely worried that assassination, chaos and anarchy would become the norm and that I might not be safe, might not even have the chance to grow up.

That’s a scary conclusion at any age let alone when you’re 12.

Of course, in 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (Has there ever been a better name for an astronaut than Buzz Aldrin?) walked on the moon and I watched it all on the family TV in Camp Hill, PA. All was right with the world after that. There was hope after all.

I’m not going to tell you that I did a lot of hand wringing or that I lost any sleep over the chaos that was the late ‘60’s. It was more of an intellectual exercise than it was a visceral one.  I remember being genuinely concerned about not just my future but everyone’s. It stood out in my mind as the years went on. Of course, I grew up (debatable) and put all of that into the appropriate context as the 70’s and subsequent decades progressed.

Everything old is new again.

Today a new Internet video documents the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff.

To say that I fully understand the nature of terrorism would be a lie. I know the dictionary definition of terrorism and its political roots, but understanding is beyond my capability. What the hell is wrong with people?

What the hell is wrong with people?

I don’t know what else to say, really. There’s certainly little I can do to affect any resolution just as there was little I could do to affect the world when I was 12. But I’m concerned again. Not so much for me, of course, because much of my life is in the proverbial rear view mirror. But not for my sons, Jon and Andy and not for Beth’s boys, Nate and Garrett. What will their respective lives be like in ten years? Twenty five years? Fifty years? Will they have to live under the fear of assassination, chaos and anarchy? Will I again?

I’m no expert, but I do know how I feel. And I’m concerned again. For all of us.

D-Day 70th Anniversary

Logo 2Today marks the 70th anniversary of the first day of the Normandy Invasion of World War II or D-Day as it is commonly known.   Ten years ago, many of my Army colleagues were in Normandy in support of the 60th anniversary commemorations as part of the Department of Defense World War II 60th Anniversary Commemoration Committee. The Committee stands as one of the most rewarding assignments of my Army career.

I was privileged to meet many of the real heroes who helped save the world back in 1944. And make absolutely no mistake about it. They saved the world. That’s not an exaggeration of what these brave men and woman did who fought and sacrificed not just on D-Day, but during all of World War II.  Had the Allied Forces not invaded Normandy when they did, the world would probably look a lot different.

Much has been written about those brave men and woman who constitute Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation.” And I am neither competent nor qualified to write anything of substance on the matter. But suffice it to say that the WWII veterans I encountered during nearly two years with the World War II Committee demonstrated extraordinary strength of character, humility and heroism. There wasn’t one I met who didn’t earn every ounce of respect I could muster and then some.

My assignment to the World War II Committee turned out to be on a short list of most rewarding assignments I had in nearly 29 years in the Army. The Veterans made it so. But so did the other Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilian staff comprising the Committee’s roster.

MG Aadland announcing the start of OPERATION Tribute to Freedom in 2003.

MG Aadland announcing the start of OPERATION Tribute to Freedom in 2003.

Maj. Gen. Anders Aadland received the call to head the World War II Committee after successfully leading the Operation Tribute to Freedom Team. Tribute to Freedom was an ad hoc joint task force assembled by the Department of Defense to recognize service men and women upon their return from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively. He did such an outstanding job that DoD tagged him to establish and lead the World War II Committee.

I had been Maj. Gen. Aadland’s Executive Officer on Tribute to Freedom, so he tagged me to help build the World War II Committee as its Chief of Staff and PAO. Retired Col. Larry Brom later came aboard as the Chief of Staff. I became the spokesman and Chief of Public Education and Awareness. Retired Lt. Gen. Ed Soyster later came in as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army to take over upon Maj. Gen. Aadland’s retirement.

Boston, Mass. (June 17, 2005) - Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army, Harry E. Soyster, right, presents LST Memorial Crew Captain Robert Jornlin with a World War II 60th anniversary commemoration medal, honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s World War II veterans. The vintage tank landing ship, which participated in the Normandy D-Day invasion, is docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard during Boston's Navy Week. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 1st Class Dave Kaylor.

Boston, Mass. (June 17, 2005) – Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army, Harry E. Soyster, right, presents LST Memorial Crew Captain Robert Jornlin with a World War II 60th anniversary commemoration medal, honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s World War II veterans. The vintage tank landing ship, which participated in the Normandy D-Day invasion, is docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard during Boston’s Navy Week. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 1st Class Dave Kaylor.

From April 2004 until December 2005, the Committee conducted and supported at least nine major World War II Commemorative events around the world and quite a few more smaller events including two on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Today, with the 70th anniversary of D-Day all over the news, my Facebook page has lit up with the names of some of my former colleagues from the committee. They’re all reminiscing about the unusually positive experience for each of us who served with the Committee. It really WAS a wonderfully positive assignment not just because of the veteran population we served but because of the outstanding people on the Committee. So I dug through some of my old photos and found the one “class photo” of the committee that was taken early on at the newly opened World War II Memorial on the National Mall.

Not everyone here is represented, since many on the Committee only served for a short time. The major players are there – people who established one of the most fun, supportive, rewarding and productive working environments I’ve ever experienced. Yes, we had lots of laughs, but we also did some terrific work in those nearly two years together. Here’s the photo of my colleagues many of whom still correspond. I count you all among friends and consider you all to be consummate professionals.

The Department of Defense World War II 60th Anniversary Commemoration Committee

The Department of Defense World War II 60th Anniversary Commemoration Committee. Click to enlarge.

I’d be remiss if I were to fail to mention those from the Committee who are no longer with us:

Mr. Matt Boland
Ms. Sarah Hildebrand
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Hagen, United States Army
Lieutenant Commander Jack Dunphy, United States Coast Guard

I continue to be honored to have served with you all.

In Defense of Eric Shinseki

Shinseki-F

I’ve spent the last couple of hours watching the interwebz light up like the proverbial Christmas tree over the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki. I will here and now openly admit my favorable bias toward him and his stellar military career. I met him when I was serving in Saudi Arabia in 2000.  I have his coin.  I was serving on active duty in the Pentagon when former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld cut him off at the knees over his prescient notion that “something in the order of several hundred thousand soldiers” would be necessary to stabilize a post-war Iraq. I was there when Rumsfeld named Gen. Shinseki’s replacement far earlier than is normally the case, essentially making him a lame duck Army Chief of Staff.

Upon retirement, he didn’t do any whining and complaining about what many consider to be his harsh, forced exit from the national stage. He didn’t write a tell-all book about the inner workings of the wartime Army. He didn’t engage in any schadenfreude at Rumsfeld’s subsequent failure to secure Iraq for lack of boots on the ground.  He didn’t dish. He retired quietly in the most honorable fashion. One cannot fault him for that nor blame him for that.

He was always media shy. I wasn’t his PAO during his tenure as Army Chief of Staff but as the Chief of the Army Senior Leader Support Team, I forwarded countless requests for interviews to his PAO both before and after those remarks and he always respectfully declined. So it’s no surprise to me that he didn’t make any noise and retired from public life with grace and dignity. (And it’s a style that I wish other retiring officers would emulate.)

Now this. It breaks my heart.

When the Senate Armed Services Committee asked him a question he gave them a straight answer. It was his obligation to do so in spite of pressures to do otherwise that are unimaginable to me. And I suspect he’d have done so even without the pressures. He did so at great professional peril and ended his Army career.

When called upon to tackle the VA, he answered the call quietly, as he always did. He was also handed a huge plate of shit, as it is common knowledge that the VA has always been the poster child for everything that a bureaucracy shouldn’t be.

Now we can argue all day about politics, leadership, accountability and a hundred other things that can be said about Shinseki’s time at the VA. Here’s MY bottom line: the rank and file government employees, managers, supervisors everywhere within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the arm of the VA which manages health care, failed him. He wasn’t the failure, THEY were. They failed to provide him with the information he needed to affect meaningful change. They failed to give enough of a damn about the care they were providing our veterans and went so far as to create methods to keep the bad news from the boss.  And everyone at the VHA shares the blame for Shinseki’s resignation and for every veteran who failed to get timely care.

Let me say that again: THEY are to blame for EVERY veteran who failed to get timely care.

Secretary Shinseki is a genuinely good man, outstanding military officer, and gifted leader; himself a wounded veteran. When he took over the VA, I was certain that our veterans were in good hands and that he would make a difference. Too bad the rest of the VHA couldn’t bother themselves to make a difference as well.

I Really Don’t Know What To Say

IIICorpsFirstly, my thoughts are with the families of those killed and injured in yesterday’s shooting at Fort Hood. I cannot imagine the boundless burden of grief they carry. But as Soldiers and their families most often do, I know they will do so with grace and dignity.

Watching the coverage unfold last night, I typed two words on my Facebook page: “Heavy heart.” I wasn’t able to watch that much of the coverage because of family commitments; story time for Nate and Garrett, the evening’s kitchen maintenance and the like. So I caught it in bits and pieces as I was able to tune in to TV news reports and check the print outlets online.

When Mr. Nidal Hasan shot up Fort Hood in 2009, I and pretty much every other reasonable person got angry.  Betrayal hurts and his was a huge betrayal.  Here was an enemy from within our own ranks. It was easy to feel angry and betrayed by that lunatic.  (And I’m being extraordinarily kind when I use the word “lunatic.”  You should have seen what I wrote in there the first draft.)  Once his appeals are exhausted, I sincerely want the military to execute him, though no one has been executed by the military since 1961. If anyone deserves it, it is Hasan.

This time, there’s no enemy.  I am filled with sorrow.  No anger, just sorrow.

I Am Homeless Again

I lived in Los Angeles from 1990 until 2004 when the Army permanently relocated me here to Virginia. During that period, I was trying to make a career in the entertainment industry as an actor. For a period of about 3-4 weeks smack in the middle of badly mismanaging my early life in LA, I was literally homeless, sleeping on the couches of fellow friends and other starving actors. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t romantic. It was frightening, demeaning and humbling. But I got through it and while I never did establish myself as a working actor as I had wanted, I did build a career as a technician in the entertainment industry for much of my time in LA and loved every minute of it.

This time, my homelessness is not as a result of my own gross mismanagement. In fact, this time, my homelessness is not a physical one but an ideological one. There’s no place at all for me to hang my hat when it comes to politics.

I am politically homeless.

The Republican Party as a group doesn’t seem to want to include anyone that doesn’t adhere to its strict conservative set of ideals. Sure, there are things about which I agree with the Republicans among them defense, fiscal responsibility (though no one in politics seems to be practicing this anymore) and personal responsibility above government responsibility.

The Democrats, on the other hand, deride anyone whose ideals conflict with a generally liberal perspective. I observe the Democrats pulling out the race card for things that generally aren’t racist, but that’s their opinion, I suppose, and they have a right to it. And there are things about which I agree completely with the Democrats including broadening the definition of marriage, legalization of marijuana and the easier provision of health care, though I disagree with the approach which is the Affordable Care Act.

So you see neither party will have me. And frankly, I don’t want either of them.

Since I disagree with the ACA, there are many in the Democratic Party who will state unequivocally that I hate poor people and actively want them to be sick. I don’t, and such charges are ridiculous. No one wants people to be sick if we can make them well. I’ve seen the ups and downs of the American health care system during my former spouse’s dealings with multiple cancers and other serious maladies and I welcome health care reform. I just disagree with this particular approach.

I hear a lot of Democrats say that the Republicans want dirty water and filthy air since they don’t support the same environmental concerns they do. That’s crazy talk, too. No one WANTS dirty air and water. No one. Not even the vast majority of corporate entities who are often falsely accused of relegating environmental concerns to the basement of the priority stack. They want to be good corporate citizens because it’s good policy and it’s better for their bottom line.

Republicans often say that if you support abortion under any circumstances that you want unborn babies to die. That’s ridiculous. Do you know one person who actually WANTS unborn babies to die? Do you know anyone who thinks that’s a great idea in every case? Again, no one wants that, but to hear it told by some staunch conservatives, if you have a (D) after your name, that is precisely the belief you hold along with ALL of those with (D)’s behind their names. That’s just nuts.

You get the idea.

Life is not now nor has it ever been an “either/or” proposition. Why has politics become this way?

And it’s not like a relationship with either party can be like one of those Venn Diagrams that you did in school:

Venn

Lately, it seems to me that neither party ideologically allows you to overlap even a little bit. (Not publicly anyway.) You’re either all in or your all out. You either agree with them 100% on everything or you’re a horrible person who wishes bad things to happen to everyone else.

Yes, I am aware of the Libertarian Party.  In fact, ideologically speaking, I probably overlap with libertarians the most.  But right now, the (L)’s are not influencing the national dialogue to any significant degree and therefore, not a practical entity in my opinion.

Ok, I admit it. There are a few people – very few — on whom I’d wish bad things. And no, none of them are ex-significant others or spouses or anything petty like that. So no, I don’t wish for bad things to happen to the sick, the well, the poor, the rich, the homeless, the unemployed, the heterosexual, the homosexual, the bisexual, the trisexual (or any sexual I can imagine — and I have a vivid imagination) or the purple people eaters of the world.

I’m just me and I have my own ideas and thoughts about things. And I’m smart enough to draw conclusions from the available data for myself. I have an equally smart, terrific circle of friends and acquaintances most of whom don’t share my every perspective and I don’t hate them and they don’t hate me. Sometimes I agree and sometimes I don’t. Yes, we have been known to have heated discussions, but we have far more in common just as people then we do politically.

And herein is the lead for this essay: We ALL have far more in common as people than we do politically. The two well-established political parties have lost sight of the American populace as people FIRST. People have nuance, color and diversity of thought. Voters don’t. And that’s how the two well-established political parties now view all of us – as voters not as people. You’re either all in or your all out.

In today’s political climate, this leaves the thinking person with no place to go. This leaves me homeless.

Pearl Harbor Day – A Different Perspective

This is by my friend and former acting colleague Ken Parham, who also served in the Coast Guard in Alaska when I was stationed up there in the Army in the late ’80’s.  Ken and I did a number of stage performances (“Arsenic and Old Lace” is one.  I was Mortimer — he was Teddy.) together up there and met up again in LA as union actors in the early ’90’s.  

Anyway, Ken posted this on Facebook and I thought it was worth reposting here.  This is a great story written by a great guy.  Thanks, Ken, for allowing me to republish this.

KenParhamWhen my ship would go for “refresher training” at Pearl Harbor, we passed by the USS ARIZONA twice a day, going into & out of Pearl Harbor. We passed so close that we could see amazing details of the ship that you couldn’t see from the Memorial. When we passed-by, our ship “rendered honors”. Most of our crew would “man the rail”. Maybe you’ve seen this on tv when Navy ships return from a long deployment; the crew is on-deck, lined up at intervals along the perimeter of the ship. When rendering honors to the ARIZONA, the crew lines ups at intervals on the side closest to the Memorial, preparing to salute.

Right before we start passing-by, the flags are “dipped” – or, lowered. A person blows the whistle over the ship’s P.A. system to come to attention; another whistle for saluting; another whistle for dropping the salute; and a final whistle to “carry on” once past the Memorial.

It is an incredibly solemn and highly, highly emotional experience. Even the “crustiest of Old Salts” are brought to tears. Well, *I* was the one who blew the whistle from the bridge of the ship. I didn’t want to. I did everything I could to get out of the job. Why? Because I was a “basket-case” when we passed the ARIZONA. Sometimes SOBBING (as I’m prone to do & am apparently not ashamed of).

Years later, my Commanding Officer, who became my drinkin’ buddy, told me he gave me the job because I was such a practical joker. He wasn’t making light of the solemnness & seriousness of the respect to be rendered to the ARIZONA, but this was payback for my putting one of those Hawaiian frogs in his shower. If you haven’t seen them, they’re just about as big as a manhole cover. I only did it because I heard he was afraid of frogs. He went on to say that he wanted to see me “get serious” for a few moments, along with seeing if I could do it “without weeping”. I could not.

Well, I KINDA could…sometimes.

You know how when a child is in its final whimpers from crying? Well, put a WHISTLE in that child’s mouth and see how it sounds. I sounded like a drunk Irish referee at a soccer game. I might as well been blowing a clown’s slide whistle. I learned early on to keep the whistle from my face until I was going to use it. A whistle doesn’t do so well when it’s full of tears. One time I even blew a snot-bubble with it.

I also learned to keep the whistle WITH me the entire time we were in Hawaii. The snot bubble gave my buddies on the bridge the idea to put a little drop of liquid dishwashing soap into the whistle. There’s nothing worse than trying to blow a whistle during a solemn event when you’re crying/laughing at bubbles on the bridge…

I somehow know that if they were alive, the sailors on the ARIZONA would find bubbles coming out of the ship’s whistle hilarious…unfortunately, they gave their all for our country…

I Hate Ronald Reagan

Misleading headline alert!

DA-SC-90-03096More correctly, I hate HEARING about Ronald Reagan these days. (The headline is admittedly just a ploy to get you to read more. I’d blame it on my editor, but I ain’t got one.)

While commuting the other day, I was listening to some nondescript radio talk show pundit on a nondescript radio talk show ramble on about how the Republican Party needs to return to the policies and values espoused by Ronald Reagan. Anytime anyone invokes the former president these days it’s usually a conversation much like the one I heard on the radio. I’m sure you’ve heard it too, if you pay any attention to the news at all: “Reagan had principles.  He stood up to the Soviets and won the Cold War and everything Republican would be hunky-dory if we could just get back to that sort of leadership again.”

I get it. I remember. I was around then. I even voted for him twice.

reagan-d-dayLast night I was testing the new FiOS app on my smartphone. I stumbled across Megyn Kelly’s broadcast at the end of which she was doing a story about Reagan’s speech at Normandy in June, 1984 on the 40th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of the European Continent. It’s a memorable speech and one of my personal favorites: “… These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.”

Twenty years later, when I was working on the Department of Defense World War II 60th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, we spoke in reverent tones about that speech. And rightly so.

But that’s another story.

What bugs me about hearing all about President Reagan lately is all this looking backwards – looking to the past at a great leader during a very different time in our Nation’s history. Was he the right guy at the right time? Yes. Who knows if the Berlin Wall would still be standing had Reagan not demanded three years later the leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev to “Tear down this wall”?

If Republican pundits and the Party want to become relevant again, stop invoking Ronald Reagan. While yes, the Reagan years were awfully good to me personally, now is not the time to be looking for the next Reagan. The world is a VERY different place now than it was back then. Besides, it’s pretty clear from the queue of lousy candidates the Republicans have backed at the national level that one doesn’t exist — at least not yet.

The Republican establishment, in my opinion, has nearly always relied on the old establishment guys for national leadership positions. While there’s no arguing that experience has value, the party needs to stop fronting candidates just because it’s their turn.

The Republicans need to create and foster a party in which the natural leaders are free to emerge without fear of the potentially damning criticism of the conservative wing of the party. Most people don’t vote based on just one issue, so why exclude an otherwise outstanding candidate because of just one issue?  The collective candidates of any party are far more alike than different. So why is it that the Republicans always seem to eat their young? 

Allow leaders to emerge and let the public decide what they’ll support through a primary system which encourages honest debate focused on ideas and most importantly, doesn’t destroy a potential Reagan before he or she ever has the chance to be recognized.  It’s OK to disagree without completely destroying your opponent.

Is it wrong that I yearn for some degree of reasonableness in the process?

President Reagan was a great president and was perfect for the times. He was the right guy at the right time. Serendipity? Perhaps. But the way the Republicans seem to be running things these days, such a serendipitous candidate can never happen.

Stop looking back to Regan for inspiration. Look within.  Look forward instead of looking back.