Sunday, January 22, 2012
On the same day that legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno died, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona announced she would resign from Congress.
Love him or not, a large part of the Joe Paterno narrative includes this question, "did he stay too long?"
Did the party pass him by?
You can count the list of major college football coaches still coaching at 85 on one finger.
Some have concluded Paterno's age was the reason he did not act more decisively in the child sex abuse scandal. A singular focus on football blacked out everything else. By the time he realized the magnitude of the controversy it was too late.
His offer to retire at season's end was met with a, "thanks but no thanks," from the University's Board of Trustees. Paterno was fired on November 9, 2011. "Get your stuff and leave," they said. "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."
A lung cancer diagnosis followed.
He died today. Some say it was a broken heart.
Flip the coin over and witness Gabby Giffords.
Just a little more than a year after she was shot in the head at point-blank range by a lunatic would-be assassin, Giffords announced today that not only will she not stand for re-election, she is resigning her seat. In a message posted on her website, the Democrat said, "I have more work to do on my recovery so to do what is best for Arizona, I will step down this week."
Her action clears the way for a Special Election to fill the remainder of her term.
Giffords' story is one of true inspiration.
I have little doubt that had she stayed and run for re-election she would have won.
Voters would find it distasteful to throw her out of office for something that was not her fault, despite her difficulties.
In the end she put those voters and their needs ahead of her own. I will grant you she says she needs to focus on recovery. She could have stayed, could have run, could have won.
It's just a remarkable study in contrast.