An ex-lifeguard’s perspective on politics

Gary Walkup
Carbondale resident

I’m not a fan of Mitt Romney. I’m not a fan of any of the political candidates. I am, though, an experienced lifeguard and an even more experienced canoeist. When I read the headline “Romney not concerned about the very poor”, I remembered Paul Harvey and wondered about “The Rest of the Story,” a radio program he had started in the 1970s. Stories would be retold on the show but with added, unknown facts.

I found that Romney’s quote was taken out of context by the media and the complete quote was:

“I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”

Perhaps Mr. Romney might have better phrased his statement, but any lifeguard would understand what Mr. Romney was trying to get across. It’s a question of priorities. Every canoeist on Campus Lake is supposed to wear a life jacket but the rule is difficult to enforce when the canoe is out of sight of the Campus Lake boat dock.

If I was walking around Campus Lake and saw a canoe with three people tip over, but only two were wearing life jackets, what would I do? My priority would be to rescue the one person who was not wearing a life jacket because that person was the only one in danger of drowning!

The other two canoeists who were smart enough to wear their life jackets might have cell phones that wouldn’t work very well, and their clothes might be a bit damp, but if someone asked if I was “concerned” about the other two canoeists my answer would be similar to Mr. Romney’s.

I wasn’t concerned about the hypothetical canoeists as they weren’t likely to die. Mr. Romney, I knew what you meant once I heard “The Rest of the Story”, even if you didn’t phrase it in a politically correct manner.

Paul Harvey, where are you when we really need you?

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