Quiet heroes

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the invisible people at work that quietly go about their business and don’t strain their arms patting themselves on the back. It got me thinking about public figures who do their work in a dignified manner, not calling attention unnecessarily to what they do. Permit me to highlight a few.

In tennis, the bad boys of tennis seem to get the notoriety. These are the ones that throw tantrums, racquets, and verbal abuses of line judges. Ilie Nastase, Jimmy Connors, and John McEnroe could be quite the jerks on the tennis court and no one should emulate that part of their game. On the better side, Arthur Ashe was a class act as well as being an excellent player. The same could be said for Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer who seem to go about their business in a professional manner. These last four each have had more success, but they also achieved it without being a jerk on the court.

In football, it seems a player needs to draw attention to each good play they make, yet seem to be silent when they screw up. It need not be that way. Herschel Walker may have been the most gifted college athlete to ever play and was a very good pro player. Yet, when he made it to the end zone, he acted like he had been there before. He was not big into histrionics as it was not his nature. I also recall the time he was out jogging and he came upon a couple who had wrecked their car and the doors were jammed. Walker came up and after learning of their dilemma, ripped the door off the hinges, so they could get out. Once he confirmed they were alright and the police were on their way, off he went. He never made a big deal of it until a reporter later got the story and confirmed its truth.

In baseball, many know the Jackie Robinson story as the first African-American major league player and, if you don’t, please check out the movie “42” which came out last year. And, many may also know the name Hank Aaron, who before the steroid era allowed another player to pass his record, he had hit more home runs than any other player, including Babe Ruth. But, as the African-American Aaron was chasing Ruth’s record, the death threats mounted. It was similar to Robinson’s plight in 1947. Aaron always carried himself with a quiet grace and dignity. He did not brag much about his prowess and the tremendous Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, seemed to get more notoriety. But, in the end, neither Mays or Mantle could come close to Aaron’s records.

In politics, the narcissistic group tends to draw attention to themselves. The first rule of being a Governor or Mayor is to show up whenever there is a business opening, relocation or groundbreaking, even if you have little to do with the event occurring. But, the people who come to mind that served with quiet grace include folks like President Jimmy Carter, Senator Bob Dole, Ambassador Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State and General Colin Powell, NC Governor Jim Martin and new Senator Elizabeth Warren to name only a few. None of these folks are without faults, but they seemed to go about their business in a very gracious and professional manner.

I mention these stories, not to say you have to be less exuberant. You do not get to the positions these people have held without being confident. As a former manager of people, I have witnessed and shared with others, the more arrogant you are, the less team-oriented you are, the more difficult to tolerate you are, then you better be that much better. Because if you are not, most people will not tolerate your BS too long. Steve Jobs could be one of the biggest jerks around, but he was tolerated as he was showing people a new path forward. Yet, many chose not to work with him. The ones who had success seemed to have experience in “handling” his moods and condescension.

You can be quite accomplished in your endeavors without being a jerk. The people I mentioned are all very talented and successful people. So, my suggestion is to be confident, but work well others and share credit. Be a class act and good things will happen. And, per an earlier blog post, do not mistake kindness for weakness.

Stop being hypocritical – Obamacare is largely a GOP Idea

Several Republican politicians in the US Senate, US Congress and NC State General Assembly have said in the press or in correspondence written in response to my queries have described Obamacare as “National Health Insurance.” I have responded when I could that Obamacare is not national health insurance. It requires health insurance coverage through employer plans, exchanges of plans with more insurance and expanded Medicaid. For those who make below certain income thresholds (basically 4 x the poverty level) an increasing subsidy for the premiums is offered as the income level decreases.

What I also universally tell people is Obamacare is largely a Republican idea that was presented in early forms back in 1994 by Senator Bob Dole, as an alternative to the national health insurance proposed by President Clinton. The idea was liked so much, that Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts implemented a variation for his state which is working pretty well today. Senator Jim DeMint, Mr. Tea Party, even endorsed Romney and his plan in 2008, before he did the ultimate flip-flop once President Obama was able to get the very similar Obamacare passed. But, don’t take my word for it, here are selective news quotes from news stories the past few years and even a campaign website.

From the Bob Dole/ Jack Kemp Presidential Campaign website in 1996 – “In1994, Dole introduced a health care reform bill which had no price controls, no mandates and no taxes. The bill took on a common sense, free market approach to health-care reform, focusing primarily on insurance reform, while offering subsidies to help low-income Americans buy health insurance.”

Per Ezra Klein of The Washington Post on July 1, 2012 “In 2007, Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina sent a letter to President George W. Bush. DeMint said he would like to work with Bush to pass legislation that would ‘ensure that all Americans would have affordable, quality, private health coverage, while protecting current government programs. We believe the health care system cannot be fixed without providing solutions for everyone. Otherwise, the costs of those without insurance will continue to be shifted to those who do have coverage.’

“In the 2000s, Romney used the individual mandate to make Massachusetts the first state to actually achieve near-universal coverage. On the national level, Republicans as diverse as Newt Gingrich, Lamar Alexander and (Trent) Lott joined him. Republicans sometimes like to present their support for the individual mandate as a youthful indiscretion, but as late as June 2009, Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, was telling Fox News that ‘there is a bipartisan consensus to have an individual mandate.’

CNSNews.com on March 5, 2012 – “Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) told CNSNews.com that both Obamacare and Romneycare are unjust laws because they wrongfully mandate that individuals must purchase a product prescribed by the government. CNSNews.com asked DeMint in an Online With Terry Jeffrey interview, if he believed that the ‘type of health-care prescription and mandate’ enacted in Massachusetts under Gov. Mitt Romney was ‘a violation of the natural right of liberty.’ ‘Yeah, I think it is,’ said DeMint.”

From Right Speak News on March 19, 2011 – “If I sound like a broken record with my ‘individual mandate is a conservative creation’ posts, it is only because I am determined to not let spineless, conservative leaders rewrite the history of the conservative movement. DeMint can pretend all he wants that he believes that the individual mandate is horrible, but he can’t hide from the words he uttered less than three years ago. I personally saw DeMint live smothering Romney with praise at a Republican event in 2007. He had no qualms about Romneycare at the time. No qualms.”

Obamacare is not perfect, but it moves the ball forward in a huge way and has already helped millions with the earlier implemented provisions – no pre-existing conditions for children will deny coverage, adult children can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26, no more lifetime maximums, and refunds to participants if an insurance company makes too much profit on your premiums, e.g. The forthcoming exchanges are an excellent idea and one that the GOP should embrace. In fact, my GOP Congressman has advocated repealing Obamacare and offering exchanges with subsidies (er, that is what Obamacare does).

I have written several posts on Obamacare. One such example follows:  https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/healthcare-is-more-than-a-pawn-it-is-a-problem/.  It is complex, but it is much-needed with so many lacking coverage and the US having the highest costing healthcare in the world with only the 38th best quality of care per the World Health Organization. I am frustrated with our GOP friends for making Obamacare a political chess game. For GOP led states choosing not to expand Medicaid to help millions of citizens around the country and economically benefitting the healthcare delivery system is poor stewardship and the pawns are the ones who suffer, not the politicians.

I have written my GOP Congressman several times to cease the Obamacare repeal votes and asking him not consider defunding it. I have also asked him to push our state legislature to reconsider the Medicaid expansion decision to not help those in need. These efforts make the GOP look poor and are not in the best interests of our country or state. And, if you read the above, it makes them look hypocritical.