Saturday, January 29, 2011

Friends, Legends, Horses, and Humility

Remember I mentioned my friend Elaine the other day?  It was in "They Don't Build 'Em Like They Used To."  I described her as someone with "a heart of gold and a brass knuckles attitude."  Well, Elaine has phoned in her opinion of my description of her...she was insulted...that I made her sound like a WIMP.  Yes, Elaine thinks a "brass knuckles attitude" is wimpy.  I asked her how she'd rather be described.  It wasn't a family friendly description.  But, I'll try to give you a better picture of the lady.

Elaine, as I told you, was the Director of Research for whom I worked in college and then she recommended me to take her job and she became a lobbyist.  She is very successful.  Elaine believes in using all of her resources.  Let me tell you the physical package allows her to sneak up on her prey.  Elaine is built like an Amazon woman.  If you don't know what that means, look it up.  But, the face on this Amazon body is that of a Kewpie Doll.  Again, if you don't know what that is, look it up.  The final injustice is that she has blond hair in a pixie cut.  There are men who now have a picture of her in their minds who are drooling on their keyboards.  Sorry guys, she's married.  I know, lucky devil, you'll be ok guys.  There'll be another woman for you, but there's only one of Elaine.  God saw his creation and broke the mold...for the good of mankind.

In this physical package of a woman that makes men weak in the knees is the brain of a ruthless genius and the attitude of brass beach balls wrapped around her prey's neck.  That's as close as I can get to her own description of her attitude.  I have often introduced her to people as, "The most beautiful, intelligent, and ruthless woman in the lobby."  It's true.  I am so very glad she's my friend because there is a vast graveyard of her political enemies.  I mentioned she's married. Fortunately for her family, Elaine is able to turn off the ruthless when she gets home and become "Mommy."  I know, it took some getting used to for me, too.

So, how did this beautiful girl from the foothills with her heart of gold become a political predator?  Did she drink some bad milk? What happened?  She was a protege of Lee Atwater.  If you don't know who Lee Atwater is and you're from a red state, you better start flogging yourself now.  Then, go look him up.  Lee Atwater was one of, if not the, most brilliant political strategist ever.  There are Republicans every where who genuflect at the mention of his name.  There are Democratic strategists who at least have deep respect for him even if they didn't agree with him politically.

Lee Atwater is the father of The Southern Strategy which allowed Ronald Reagan to win the South for the first time.  Yes, folks, the South used to be a bunch of blue states.  That's how brilliant Lee Atwater was.  He changed the politics of an entire region of this country. I think there's some other Republican strategist trying to take some credit for The Southern Strategy right now. That's the hell of dying in politics, some other son of a gun tries to take credit for your work.  Lee also had a reputation for being ruthless.  But, sadly, Lee passed away a number of years ago.  He gave up being ruthless for God before his death.

So, Lee met young Elaine working on Reagan's campaign as a volunteer, I think, if my memory serves me correctly.  Elaine was the beautiful and intelligent daughter of a respected bank president and important Republican.  Of course, Lee was obligated by chivalry to take her under his wing.  Well, that's probably not what he had in mind to start with, but Elaine was a good girl who was only interested in learning.  I imagine, though I do not know, that when Lee or any man figured out they weren't going to get out of the dugout with Elaine, much less to any base, they were probably simply turned on by her brilliant mind.

So, Lee let Elaine hang out, work, learn and be his driver.  And, learn she did.  Elaine made her daddy proud.  Sadly, he too passed away very young, like Lee, and did not live to see her success and political brilliance.  It makes me well-up a little.  He would have been so proud of her at work and home.  I am not overstating her brilliance, believe me.  Nor is she paying me to say these things.  She's probably home with her coffee chuckling while she reads this, except for the parts about the passing of Lee and her dad, she's tearing up with me.

Now, make the connection.  The most brilliant and ruthless political strategist of all time--hey it's my blog and I'll say it if I want to, though I think James Carville is a very close second--trained young Elaine who in turn trained me.  Yes, folks, I am one degree of separation from Lee Atwater and I am proud of it.  Lee made Elaine, and then she made me, strategic thinkers. She can out think anyone on the planet.  I'm not quite that good, or if I am, I can't say it.  She's going to be insulted again.  I'm saying she didn't train me to be a brilliant strategic thinking protege...I feel a phone call coming.  But, Elaine, I gotta have some humility.

I have to have some humility because I chose to walk away from politics.  Politics, if you're successful, is like a drug and it is very addictive.  It's fun.  The way strategic thinking makes your mind work is really exciting. Ruthlessness for a good cause doesn't bother you. You crave political success probably like heroin addicts crave their fix.  Oh, I've got to shake it off...I'm starting to twitch.  I sound like a junkie, don't I.  See what I mean, I enjoyed it.  I enjoy the memory of it, still.

And, how did this political junkie and Lee Atwater protege's protege find her 12-steps out of politics and back to humility, kind'a? I went to purge myself in the do gooder land of rural mental health and then, I promptly got some horses.  Horses will keep you humble.

It's not the constant poop scooping that keeps you humble, though it helps.  The average horse produces 50 lbs. of waste a day.  Yes, look it up.  That's a lot of horse sh*t.  Which, by the way, I've found out I can sell.  Oh, Lee must be smiling down on me for that one.  But, what keeps you humble is that horses are smarter than humans.

Yes, horses are smarter than all humans.  If you don't believe me, get one of your own.  A horse's brain is the size of a lemon.  A human brain is what 5-7 lbs., something like that?  And, no matter how smart you are or how much time you spend with horses, one day that animal with the lemon brain puts one over on you.  He sneaks one past you.  It's happened to me many times.  I learned quickly, as do most people who stay in horses, that you've got to laugh.  You can't be mad at him, he's being a horse.  He's doing his job and he just figured out how to do it in spite of you.

I often laugh at my staff and students because the horses get quite a few past them.  I'm the only one allowed to laugh around here because I'm the only one who can do it better.  That's the rule.  If you can't do it better, you can't laugh at someone else.  The exception is when RW and his son Boot come to visit.  They are better than me with horses and they are free to laugh their rear ends off at me.  That's ok, I laugh at myself, too.  But, that's how horses keep you humble--even if you're one degree of separation from Lee Atwater.

Ok, I gotta go teach Cowgirl Slim how to lunge Chief.  He needs to get some of his extra energy out.  Have a good Saturday.  Enjoy yourselves.  Thanks for reading.

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