Thursday, January 23, 2014

Modern day Goofus and Gallant

When I was growing up, my favorite part of going to see the dentist was reading Highlights for Children magazine in the waiting room. In addition to catching up with the Timbertoes family, I loved cringing at “Goofus and Gallant” and seeing how one boy could never get it right while the other always knew how to behave. 

A giant version of Goofus emerged in the form of Alex Rodriguez as he and his attorneys tried to negotiate away his suspension last week. He just doesn’t seem to understand that it’s time to give up. He’s now officially the black sheep of Major League Baseball and despite his numbers, the Hall of Fame voters may be disinclined to vote for him, just as they have shunned Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. While he’s never failed a test, records from a clinic that distributed performance-enhancing drugs indicate that he was a client. The clinic’s founder admitted that he injected Rodriguez himself. A-Roid needs to own up to what he’s done, accept his punishment and spend the 2014 season trying to figure out a way to look the other players in the eye. He went from having one friend to zero this week when his lawyer insinuated that David Ortiz was a PE user. Clearly there are many other baseball players who have used banned substances, but A-Rod got caught, refused to admit his violation and MLB is going to make an example of him. Sorry Goofus, you need to serve your suspension and start acting more like Gallant. I bet that even your mother thinks you’re a jerk.

Last week I saw Gallant in Mayor Allan Fung. He sat before a roundtable of reporters and described his car accident that killed a man, breaking down with emotion. While he handled the disclosure as well as he could, the truth is that he owned up to it long ago. Even though there is nothing he could have done differently to prevent the accident, he did what he could for the family of the man he killed and made every effort to disclose the accident when a question came up. The most important thing is that he told the truth – the same truth – every time. Because of that, he’s not just a sympathetic figure, but an admirable one. He’s not the flashiest candidate in the race, he’s not going to have the most money and frankly, he’s a bit of a long shot. But if his handling of this accident as a 19 year-old and its disclosure as a 42 year-old is any indication, he’s honest and decent to the core. 

It is unfortunate that politics appears to attract more Goofi than Gallants. From the politicians who have padded their wallets to those that have used it as a platform to attract and prey on women, we hear a lot about the Goofi we’ve elected. While Rhode Island has been in a bit of a lull from corruption (not counting the former legislator who was jailed last week) we have certainly had our share. But as someone who has spent many years in and out of capital buildings, town halls and congressional offices, I can report that the overwhelming majority of people in public service are more similar to Allan Fung than Anthony Weiner. Having said that, Mayor Fung certainly earned his spot on the Gallant list this week and I am hopeful that he can put the past behind him and let his behavior stand as a model for all our Highlights readers around the state.

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