Tennis and the Tea Party


Today is September 12th. The tenth anniversary of 9/11 has come and gone. Both the moving and the maudlin tributes to those who died and to those who were affected by those deaths have been quickly replaced overnight by the mostly mundane concerns of the present moment. I collected a sampling of the paragraphs that the New York Times puts under each headline on all of their topics pages. I make no apology in picking these specific items. This was the NYTimes, not the NY Post.

In a new CW series called “H8R,” athletes and entertainment stars learn that not everyone loves them, then work to come to an understanding.

Tell us which shows from the new television season will be ratings winners and which will be canceled.

The security guard at the New York Public Library took one look at Anna Dello Russo in her platform heels and pink Versace minidress and said: “You’re going to the fashion show, right? Third floor.

Drawing a fashionable, artsy, loyal crowd since the 1980s, the buzz surrounding the restaurant Indochine is not about the food.

AOL and Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch, said they had parted ways, after a controversy over Mr. Arrington's new venture capital fund.

Can online communities like Jesus Daily take the place of offline religious life, like what happens at synagogues and churches?

A geriatrician reflects on the challenges facing the aging generation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who are often more isolated than their heterosexual peers.

For all the relentless realism of the film “Contagion,” much of the real drama of epidemic disease never quite makes it to the screen.

To better recognize extraterrestrial life should they come upon it, scientists are working to create simple life forms in a lab. But, as Dennis Overbye reports, they first have to agree what life is.

Do women’s experiences differ from men’s when traveling alone? Our Frugal Traveler talks to some experts to find out.

Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, faces far-reaching decisions about how to deal definitively with the debt crisis in Europe and whether to allow Greece to default.

The City Commission dismissed the chief, Miguel A. Exposito, who had held the job for nearly two years, after he was accused of failing to follow orders from his superiors.

According to the suit, business owners would have to pay guest workers at crawfish and shrimp processors wage increases that range from 51 percent to 83 percent of current hourly rates.

"Curb Your Enthusiasm" on HBO ended its season with some help from the mayor.

Baseball memorabilia does not pass a child’s inspection, two sisters express exasperation, and a seemingly homeless man asks for a little extra.

It’s hard to tweeze out a lot of concerns matching the solemnity of yesterday. Political bickering was back, not only in the US but in France, Russia. Stock markets continue to exhibit wide swings, with completely contradictory explanations offered for the ups and downs. The Red Sox are blowing an insurmountable lead for the wild card slot. To be a little more balanced, here are the paragraphs summarizing the six front page stories.

Thousands gathered to mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that changed a city and a nation.

Fresh doubts about the health of French banks, which hold billions of euros’ worth of Greek bonds, have investors bracing for more market turmoil this week.

Recent stock fluctuations have caused experts to ask whether there are new forces at work in the market that make trading permanently more erratic.

President Dmitri A. Medvedev’s decision to stick to the script at a political forum signaled that he was not prepared to fight for his job.

An oral history is scheduled to be released Wednesday, 47 years after Jacqueline Kennedy spoke with Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

I missed watching the CNN/Tea Party debate tonight; it ran against the finals of the US Open. This sporting event was really about winning or losing, not the sham contest these debates claim to be. Djokovic beat Nadal in one of the very best exhibitions of tennis skills I have ever seen. I thought a few minutes ago while reading Andrew Sullivan’s live blogging of the debate that this tennis match is an apt metaphor for genuine political debate. No posturing, just developing each rally ball-by-ball, sometimes by brute force, more often by skillful argumentation represented in the choice and placement of their hits. Sticking to the game plan, but adjusting as the play took unexpected twists and turns. A respectful nod to the opponent at the end of the match.

Life is a kind of game, a serious one. It requires the heart of a competitor like Nadal or Djokovic to hang in there when the going gets rough. It takes a willingness to be in the moment, not back on the practice court watching a film about how to win the next match. It takes honesty and steadiness. The political season would have been better informed if those who watched the CNN/Tea Party “debate” had watched the US Open instead. (It should not be a surprise that even if the Open had not been delayed and end up in a time conflict, I would not have tuned in anyway.) I got going in politics even before I was able to vote. My memory of those times is that there was a lot of sport involved. Serious of course but appreciative and always aware that other human beings were playing the same game of survival and searching for whatever their aspirations meant to them. (Thanks to my son, Tom, who suggested the theme of this post.)