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Random thoughts on a summer afternoon

Posted: August 7, 2014 10:54 a.m.
Updated: August 8, 2014 5:00 a.m.

• It wasn’t a good day for Michelle Nunn last week; she’s running for U.S. Senate from Georgia -- one of a few Democrats who might unseat Republican candidates for the country’s most exclusive club -- and recently found out her secret campaign plan had somehow been leaked.

The strategic plan laid out her strengths, one of them being that she is a “fund-raiser’s dream” because of her past involvement with Points of Light, a non-profit group, and the fact that she’s the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, a popular George senator from the past.

But it also detailed her weaknesses, such as “service awards to inmates and terrorists” while she was with Points of Light, and the fact that she’s perceived by many to be indifferent to the problems of rural areas of the state.

It’s tough enough to run for office when nobody knows your secret plan, and indeed tougher when it’s laid out there for everyone to see.

• I’m baffled by grumpy people.

The Maine island where Wife Nancy and I spend time is home to Acadia National Park, so there are lots of visitors.

Lots.

That’s a good thing, because I’m in the tourism business.

Almost all the people who come to Acadia are happy -- excited to be on vacation, thrilled with the beauty of the park, happy with their situation.             

But a few of them just chew nails all day -- mad when they get up, mad at noon, made at night.

Mad all the time.

I’m not sure what it is that causes people to be grumpy. We all have days when we’re not at our best, but people who are always angry are just ... well, they’re just always angry.

It’s a pity.

• Even fellow Democrats are complaining that President Obama is too aloof with members of Congress, that he doesn’t know how to do the type of back slapping and horse trading necessary for a president to get legislation passed.

It’s not unusual for opposition party members to make that complaint, but you don’t see too many instances when the president’s own allies admit it.

That’s been one of the criticisms flung at Obama since he took office -- that he doesn’t understand the importance of schmoozing, the critical art of sitting down with lawmakers to try to find common ground.

One Democrat, given the tough row Obama has to hoe in dealing with a Republican house, called the president’s strategy “baffling.”

Obama could be great as a hail fellow well met. He apparently isn’t willing to do it.

• The NCAA, long the unquestioned dictator of college sports, is on the ropes. The five major conferences -- Southeastern, Big Ten, ACC, Pac 12 and Big 12 -- will now be able to determine their own fates. It’s the first step towards removing the last vestige of amateurism from major college sports and is one more sign that big-time college athletics are all about money. That’s been no secret for a long time.

One former athletic official at Oklahoma said, “This move will take us farther away from any semblance of these athletes being students.”

Much of the blame lies with the NCAA itself, which has been a cumbersome, moribund behemoth in recent years, unable to adjust to changing times. And some officials view the move as a way to update the rules governing college sports and to have universities share more of their money with athletes.

This divorce isn’t all bad. It will separate the big five conferences from the rest of collegiate sports and perhaps allow small-college athletics to remain what we’d all like to think sports are, anyway -- students giving their all for their alma mater.

All that being said, however, there’s something exciting about the approach of college football season. We might all recognize it for what it is -- far from the original concept of “student athletes” -- but when those guys come running out on the field, throngs of thousands cheering them, there’s a tingle in the air.

It’s only weeks away.

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