Saturday, October 06, 2012

Winners and Losers

Winner: Romney. I expected that, in a debate with the President, Mitt Romney would sound like a blithering idiot. Wrong. Mitt was energetic, agreeable, smart. It was the Mitt Romney the Republicans kept telling us we would eventually see. The President, a master orator who shines with a scripted speech and a teleprompter, was so-so but a pale shadow of the Obama we saw at Grant Park in 2008. The only question is whether "the real Romney" emerged too late in the game. I am still in the undecided column, waiting to hear the candidates discuss foreign policy - not a major issue for most voters, but a big issue for me, because after Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, I think another military crusade would destroy what's left of our economy and our credibility among the 95 percent of the world's population who don't live in the U.S.A..

Loser: Bobby Valentine. He should have been fired the day after he publicly questioned the commitment of Kevin Youklis (of all people). In fact, from the outset he was the wrong man for the job. There's enough blame to go around, since the front office made several questionable trades.  The 2012 season left a bad taste with Red Sox nation, and next year you may see a rarity at Fenway Park: thousands of empty seats.  

Winner; Matt Ryan. Here's the setup: Atlanta is trailing, 28-27, with less than a minute left to play and Atlanta on its own 1-yard line. Hopeless? No. Quarterback Ryan heaves a long pass, which is completed, and the Falcons kick a field goal to win the game. It was the third last-minute comeback of the young season for Ryan and the Falcons.

Winner: Steve Martin. His new 3-DVD set, "Steve Martin: The Television Stuff," is a fine collection of Martin's early stand-up work, before he decided to quit comedy-club gigs and TV specials in favor of the movies. The routines are not all choice; he is sometimes too crude for my taste, but the best of the humor is really hilarious, and he displays more talent than any one person should be allowed to have. He is a virtuoso on the banjo. He juggles. He is a magician. He tap dances (creditably) with Gregory Hines. And of course he is a master of visual comedy, especially in his "wild and crazy guy" skits. Accompanying the routines is an interesting interview with Martin, who is now in his late 60's. (Where did the years go?)

Loser: Hewlett-Packard. I am sad to see H-P falling into the scrap heap of American business because, although I spent a considerable part of my career competing against the folks in Palo Alto, I always respected H-P, and I regarded them as a class act. But the former titan of the test world has now become an also-ran of the digital world. What happened? For openers, H-P chose to look outside the company for their last four CEOs, including the current leader, Meg Whitman. What does it tell you when a company considers none of its 100,000-plus employees presidential material? Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard would have been ashamed.