Last Sunday, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic played 4 hours and 57 minutes, the longest Wimbledon singles final in history. The match ended with a winning tiebreak by Djokovic, 32, in the fifth set. Afterward, he praised his nearly 38-year-old opponent, saying, “Roger really inspires me with his effort at his age.” It was an enormous effort by both gentlemen regardless of their age.
The two top tennis players battled it out at Wimbledon with grace and poise.
On this side of the pond, our nation’s capital has hosted a very different battle — one marked by ugliness and agitation.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., sat for an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, which was published July 6. Pelosi discussed four freshmen Democratic congresswomen (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts) and her take on their influence. “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. ... They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got,” she said.
Soon after, Ocasio-Cortez pushed back, saying she felt Pelosi was “singling out newly elected women of color.” That led some observers to label Pelosi’s comments as racist.
President Trump came to Pelosi’s defense last Friday while talking to the White House press pool. “I think that a group of people is being very disrespectful to her,” he said. “Cortez should treat Nancy Pelosi with respect. She should not be doing what she’s doing. And I’ll tell you something about Nancy Pelosi that you know better than I do. She is not a racist, OK? She is not a racist. For them to call her a racist is a disgrace.”
On Sunday, Trump tweeted: “So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly ... and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how ... it is done.”
This was taken as referring to the same four freshmen congresswomen, three of whom were born in the United States (Omar was born in Somalia).
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This was immediately labeled as racist by Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and many others defended Trump’s comments as nonracist.
This Tuesday, Pelosi spoke out on the floor of the House. “Every member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us to condemn the president’s racist tweets,” she said. As soon as she finished, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., called for her words to be stricken from the record based on parliamentary procedure, which forbids disparaging the character of the president.
The debate between the parties became so heated that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo., who was chairing the House, abandoned the chair in an unprecedented move. After another hour, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., ruled that Pelosi’s comments were out of order, but they were not stricken from the record.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the country, where there is less press coverage and there are fewer theatrics, the economy is booming; unemployment is down; and according to a poll released this Wednesday by Gallup, “most Americans, 70 percent, continue to view the American dream as personally achievable.”
It’s not only those who are in the top income levels; a majority of households “making less than $40,000 agree as well (61 percent).”
The largest gap is between Democrats (60 percent) and Republicans (88 percent). This is not surprising, due to the politically polarized nature of our country. What is surprising is that, while men and women 50 years of age and older are close in agreeing with the statement (74 and 73 percent, respectively), there is a big divide between women and men ages 18 to 49 (58 and 73 percent, respectively).
However, the outlook is thought to be brighter for “today’s youth,” with a majority of adults (60 percent) saying, “it is very or somewhat likely that today’s youth will have a better life than their parents did.” This has risen since 2011 when 44 percent agreed with this statement.
So, while the rest of the country is feeling better about where we are as a nation and about our ability to live the American dream, Washington once again shows that it’s disconnected from reality by focusing on ugliness and agitation. Makes me long for grace and poise.