Four Things

What I'd Say to Lou Holtz

Lou Holtz thinks America is over. Here's what I'd say to comfort him.

Lou Holtz had to be consoled by John Boehner the other day, you may have noticed. This is Boehner talking:

"Last night, I got a three-page text from my good friend Lou Holtz, who must have watched the inaugural and then all that blabber on TV…: 'I'm done, finished, the country's over with -- we're not doing this again!' Now, I had already had this conversation with Lou about nine or ten days after the election. He came in to speak to our 34 new Members. And before he went over to talk to them, he came over to my office, and he was moaning and groaning. I said, 'Lou, would you stop it? We're Americans, we'll figure this out!' And I had to spend 15 minutes giving Lou Holtz a pep talk! I had to do it again last night!"

First of all what is a "three-page text"? A text message consists of at most a few sentences. I guess he means three serial messages. Anyway.

We've known for some time that Holtz (the former college football coach and current ESPN sage for those who don't follow such things) is an arch-conservative; as I recall matters he outed himself sometime in the 1990s, right around the same time as that other ex-coach, you know, the one who never bothered to ask his friend Jerry Sandusky what exactly he was doing with those boys, made his conservative bona fides known to the broader public.

I still have sort of a soft spot for Holtz, for no logical reason, since I have no use for the Republican Party or the University of Notre Dame. So I got to wondering, if he asked me what to make of what's happening to this country, as a pal, what would I tell him? And then I got to thinking that perhaps this could have more universal application, as I'm sure many of us have friends whose politics we find shocking, and maybe you all will have interesting thoughts to add here.

I'd say: Lou, look at it this way. First of all, your side and your way of doing things had a good long run, 30-plus years. Yeah, we got Clinton in there, and he probably did some stuff you didn't like, but basically, conservatives set the terms of debate from 1980 on. Now that's shifting. So you had your salad days, and now it's time for my team to have ours. That's called a momentum shift. You have plenty of experience in those. They just happen.

Number two: You grew up in an America, Lou, that was in some ways way more liberal than anything Barack Obama has in mind. When you were young, the marginal tax rates were more than twice as high as the rates Obama is pushing for. And unionization was three or four times as heavy. I guarantee you, you ask any corporate titan whether he'd rather have run his company under 1956 rules and norms and tax rates or today's--the highest corporate tax rate then was 52 percent, to today's 35 percent--I should think most would opt for today's. So you actually lived in a much more socialist America, and yet I'm sure you regard those as the good old days.

Third, Lou, just relax. People from the right and the left have predicted this country's demise, for different reasons, from its founding. It almost did collapse once. But somehow we go on. It really is never as bad as all that.

Fourth, stick to football, dickhead.