Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Crisis of confidence.  Crisis of competence.

We clearly don’t know who we are anymore. And we clearly don’t know how to make cornbread.  We have a brand new “Spirit of ’76.”  On Saturday we observed VJ Day, marking the end of WW II. August 14, 1945. Seventy-six years ago.  It has been more than seven and a half decades since the United States won an armed conflict and made it stick.

And we’re still reading our press clippings, even as our global standing declines and our national psyche erodes. We’ve been so obsessed with selling American style democracy abroad that we have sold ourselves out at home and thrown our souls into the deal.  Trying to make other people into “us”?  There is no “us.” And the world knows it.

What do our foreign adversaries and the COVID-19 virus have in common? Both operate with the confidence that all they have to do is wait us out and watch us crumble. They adapt and mutate, while we stagnate and disintegrate.

Once again, we have displayed how badly we can bungle getting out of ill-advised, unwinnable conflicts. And once again, historians will be baffled by how little thought we give to getting into these Groundhog Day quagmires in the first place.

Twenty years. More than 4,000 American lives lost, including civilian contractors. More than 20,000 military personnel wounded. A trillion dollars.

“The Spirit of ‘76” lives on.

Yes. We had to get out. Our current president and his predecessor agreed about that, along with more than 80 percent of the American public. And whenever we finally left—earlier, now or later—the Taliban would inevitably fill the vacuum, as the Afghan troops we trained laid down their arms and the Afghan president caught the last train for the Coast. At some point, an American president was going to have to have the courage to, dare I say, “bite the bullet.”

But both on interstate highways and at Broadway plays, exits matter. Biden botched this one.

That was ugly. And inexcusable.

And completely predictable.

A crisis of confidence. A crisis of competence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Paul's Bio

I clearly have the attention span of your median fruit fly.Look! Airplane!

Sorry. I’m back.

It’s both a curse and a blessing. I’ve never bought this stuff about, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But I do think that a wide range of life experiences helps us grow as people, and helps us better relate to other people. I’ve been fortunate. And I am beyond grateful.

I show up on time. I go like hell. I’m a good listener. I hold myself accountable. I own my mistakes. And I have a natural and an insatiable curiosity. I’m never afraid to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t. But then I try to find out.

The flip side is I’m a lousy ballroom dancer and my clothes sometimes fit me funny.

Stuff matters to me. I care. But while I take that stuff seriously, I try hard to never take myself seriously. As a result, I have sometimes been told, “Paul, it’s hard to tell when you’re serious and when you’re just having some fun. Which is it? Serious or fun?”

My answer is “yes.” But I think that is a legitimate criticism. I promise I’m going to work on that.

This has been the quickest and strangest half-century I’ve ever experienced. During that period, I’ve been afforded amazing opportunities in news and sports journalism across all platforms. I have taught wonderful students at the high school and collegiate level. Always, I learned more from them than they did from me. I’ve been a high school administrator. I spent ten seasons as a high school varsity football coach. I’ve been an advertising executive. I’ve hosted nationally syndicated television entertainment shows. In maybe the biggest honor I ever received, I was selected by NASA to be “Chet The Astronaut” for the “Land The Shuttle” simulator at Space Center Houston. (All I can say there, is “Do as I say, not as I do.” I put that thing in the Everglades more often than not.) Most recently, I just wrapped up a decade as a television news director, during which time our teams distinguished themselves in holding the powerful accountable, achieving both critical and ratings success.

What does all that mean? It means I am profoundly grateful. It also means I’m ready for “next.” So here we are. Radically Rational. It’s an idea I woke up with in 2017. I scribbled “Radically Rational” on a piece of notebook paper and used a magnet to stick it on our refrigerator. I saw it every day, and it just would not leave me alone.

I am second in charge at Radically Rational, LLC. My wife, Jo (also known as BB), is the president. Clearly, I have failed in my attempt to sleep my way to the top of this organization.

I hope you will learn that I’m loyal as a Labrador. But I will admit that this doggie can bite every now and then. My promise to you? I will show up on time. I will go like hell. I will listen to you earnestly and attentively. I will hold myself accountable. I will never be the least bit hesitant to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t.

But then I’ll try to find out. Let’s do it.