Sunday, March 25, 2007

No Spellbinder

For a new generation: Try to imagine a handsome All-American basketball player and Rhodes scholar who went on to become a United States Senator and Presidential candidate of whom it can be fairly said, “How that man lights up a room when he leaves it!”

On “Meet the Press” today, Bill Bradley discussed his new book, which asserts that “Politics is stuck” but “idealism isn’t dead” and describes the Democratic Party as “an inverted pyramid with too much emphasis put on a charismatic leader to hold the pyramid up.”

As always, Bradley is thoughtful, thorough and sound in his judgments. But will he be heard?

I was there when the New York Knicks retired his number at a halftime ceremony in 1984. As Bradley was making his brief speech of gratitude, the crowd of adoring fans quickly became restless and started urging him to stop.

In the 2000 primaries, he made Al Gore seem magnetic, and that was not easy to do. But if the country is to create what Bradley calls “an ethic of connectedness,” a combination of collective action and individual responsibility, the next President should put him in the cabinet. He may not make a great talking head, but America needs his mind and spirit.

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