Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dichotomy (dī-kŏt'ə-mē) (dahy-kot-uh-mee)

The Players:

Michael Phelps - 23, U.S. swimmer, 14-time Olympic champion, has more Olympic gold than any other athlete. World Swimmer of the Year 2003-2004 and 2006-2008, American Swimmer of the Year 2001-2004 and 2006-2008. Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year 2008. Has millions in endorsements with such companies as Speedo, Mazda, Omega, and VISA. Announced the Michael Phelps Foundation with a bang by donating the million dollar bonus he received from Speedo for his Olympic performance. Diagnosed as a child with ADHD, and took up swimming as an energy release and focus aid. Got a DUI at the age of 19.

Tom Daschle - 61, Democrat, spent four terms in House of Representatives 1979-1987, former U.S. Senator (D-SD) 1987-2005, U.S. Senate Majority Leader 2001-2003, co-author of “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis” about health care reform, nominated by President Obama to be the Secretary of Health & Human Services.

Under Fire:

Phelps - Currently under fire for a photo depicting him taking a bong hit.

Daschle - Currently under fire for: 1) failure to pay, among other things and due to “unintentional oversight”, $128,000 in taxes for a private car and driver, even after he had it researched by his accountant; and 2) huge financial ties to big dogs in the health care industry to the tune of over four million dollars.

The Scrutiny:

Phelps - The media, that bastion of the old bait-and-switch, is toying with the idea that Phelps should lose his endorsements, but why should he? The companies backing him claim this is a non-issue, as it should be. Let’s not forget the coveted 18-24 year old demographic doesn’t take issue with pot (nor, for the most part, do many other demographics), it can even be said this episode may make Phelps more relatable (e.g., bankable).

During this age of instant information and precious little privacy there are few who are unaware most top-level Olympic athletes live very different lives than the rest of us, and with the amount of public scrutiny Phelps underwent before, during, and after the 2008 Summer Olympics there can’t be many left who think his formative years were even remotely similar to theirs (or their children’s).

While I understand holding role models to a higher standard, it infuriates me that the media, and people in general, insist on calling anyone a role model who may move the news. Where are all the stories of a-day-in-the-life? Why do we only hear about these supposed “role models” when they’ve done something “wrong”? Isn’t a true role model the person one wishes to emulate or aspires to be because s/he has what one wants (e.g., skill, talent, lifestyle, abilities), and if so, doesn’t that include the entire package?

A kid who dedicates his young adulthood to acquiring and maintaining the skills to be the very best at a physically demanding sport does not spend much of that time experiencing the social interactions of his/her counterparts (e.g.,partying). Of course he’s going to cut loose later!

Daschle - There is absolutely no excuse for any U.S. politician to have any tax issues whatsoever, in any way, shape, or form. Every politician should be held to the highest standard imaginable in these regards, period.

Yes, Daschle may have been left holding the proverbial tax bag once Timothy Geithner was confirmed Treasury Secretary after having cleared up his own little tax debacle but really, how can anyone possibly justify three (this includes Nancy Killefer, who was nominated to oversee budget and spending reform) serving politicians with tax problems allowing themselves to be nominated for key positions? And these are just the three we know about. Does anyone else see the irony here? We’re to entrust our nation’s finances to people who can’t handle their own finances responsibly?

The Bottom Line:

Phelps - Since when do we care about a kid smoking pot? In this instance I say let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Otherwise shut the hell up and get over your bad self.

Daschle - If he doesn’t withdraw on his own, President Obama should do it for him. With the lack of trust the U.S. currently has for leadership it is not important to always be right, but rather to admit when wrong and take corrective action.

Of course, half my aggravation/point is kind of moot now, seeing as Daschle has just withdrawn his name, with President Obama’s support, from the nomination …

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