Sunday, January 24, 2021

Always root for the hometown team

| January 8, 2021 1:00 AM

You know politics has reached new lows when a stellar accomplishment is ridiculed because the guy plays for "the other team."

Yes, we're talking about Coeur d'Alene's Bruce Reed, who was appointed last week to be President-elect Joe Biden's deputy chief of staff in the White House.

How anybody could not celebrate that accomplishment offers a glimpse into partisanship's inner sickness that has infected our nation.

Sometimes we just have to get over disappointment and admire spectacular achievement. Cheer for your team, by all means, but respect the great efforts of your opponents.

Ever hear of Steve Kerr? How about Patrick Tillman? Of course you have.

Kerr was the star basketball player at University of Arizona whose father, president of American University in Beirut, was assassinated in 1984. Shortly after, fans at an Arizona-Arizona State basketball game in Tempe taunted Steve, yelling things like “PLO, PLO!" and “Your father’s history!”

Kerr went on to win NBA championships as a player and as a coach.

Tillman was a star football player at ASU who incurred the wrath of Arizona fans because, well, because he was so damned good. Later, Tillman was enjoying a strong career with the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL when 9/11 happened. He stepped away from a lucrative contract and enlisted in the U.S. Army, believing so strongly that he needed to do what was best for his country that he would leave millions of dollars on the table and his beloved family behind.

You know what happened: Tillman was killed in Afghanistan — by friendly fire. The U of A fans who had cursed one of the best linebackers ever to play against them were shamed into silence and regret, realizing too late that their nemesis was an unadulterated hero.

Bruce Reed's father wasn't assassinated and he did not give his life for his country — not in the sense that Tillman did, anyway. But Biden has charged Reed with a historically important task: To try to help bring together not just a divided Congress, but a divided nation.

That's enough to make every Idahoan proud. In the greater Coeur d'Alene area, it's an unprecedented achievement worthy of respect and admiration.