What's Tony Thinking

Groundhog Day and More at Week’s End


Looks like spring is on the way. At least if you take the Groundhog’s predictive capacity seriously. No shadow when the little guy crawled out (or was pushed), so spring will come early. And here in Seattle it looks like it. Almost balmy weather and sunshine after a very grey and very wet January. Crocuses are blooming. Daffodils are in bud. Shrubs are leafing out. While we have had plenty of precipitation, 113% of normal for the month, too much of it has been rain and not enough of it snow in the mountains. The snowpack is at 31% of normal.

The pendulum swings. The Seattle Seahawks hired a new head coach this week, 36-year-old, Mike Macdonald, formerly the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, a team that laid a major beat down on Hawks during the regular season. McDonald will be the youngest head coach in the NFL, replacing the oldest, 72-year-old, Pete Carroll.

I trust the Seahawks had more in mind than the relative ages, however, I note how often in church-world, congregations call someone who represents a swing of the pendulum to their predecessor. “The last gal was into racial justice, give us a new person who’s all about spiritual practices.” “He was a great leader and administrator. Heck with that, we want a prince of the pulpit.” I also note that after the honeymoon, not being your predecessor is not only not enough; it often becomes a negative as people long for what they have lost.

Fanni Willis what were you thinking? After a long silence in the face of accusations of impropriety the Atlanta-based, Fulton County, Georgia prosecutor — who probably had the best of the four cases against Donald Trump — has admitted to an affair with her lead prosecutor on the case (who was still married to someone else and doesn’t appear much qualified for his current gig).

But, it’s okay, said Willis, it doesn’t really matter because he wasn’t her beau when she hired him. The romance happened after he was on the job! Hello! If you are trying to prosecute Donald Trump you simply cannot give him this kind of ammunition with which to work. It makes it way too easy for him to dodge his own own culpability by saying, “Who are you to call me a bad actor?”

Joe Biden told us he was a transitional figure. If you have a kinda, sorta memory of a kinda, sorta promise that Joe Biden saw himself as a one-term president and a transitional figure, turns out you were right. Here’s the opening paragraph of Ezra Klein’s Groundhog Day column, Joe Biden speaking in 2020.

“’Look, I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else,’ Joe Biden said at a rally four years ago in Detroit, flanked by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. ‘There’s an entire generation of leaders you saw standing behind me. They are the future of this country.’”

In my humble opinion, the greatest failing of both Obama and Biden has been to not build the bench and move a new generation into position to succeed. Returning to the analogy to leadership transitions in churches (above) and other organizations with which I have worked, succession planning seems is not something we’re very good at. Goodness knows, Presidents have a full plate. But particularly in Biden’s case, I’d say that centering a cadre of new folks and potential successors might have been a high priority for an eighty-year-old. It didn’t get done. So the 2024 election sets up like the famous “Groundhog Day” movie with Bill Murray. Here we go again!

Verifying you are human. The log-on at the Constant Contact site that I use to send these blogs changed a couple weeks ago. Instead of having something that asks you to confirm “I am not a robot” by identifying traffic lights or motorcycles (apparently not something that robots can do) the authentication now reads, “Verifying you are human.” But what I like even more is the line that follows that line, which is, “This will take a few seconds.”

Who knew? To all the philosophers, theologians and artists who’ve spent lifetimes pondering the meaning of being human, really, “this will take a few seconds!”


Categories: Uncategorized