Team of Rivals is one of the better books I've read lately. My favorite biographies use their subjects as a way to explore larger issues – the rough-and-tumble of politics in the first volume of Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson, issues of race and the professionalization of sports in Randy Roberts biography of Jack Johnson, etc. The discussion of leadership in Doris Kearns Goodwin's book struck a couple of cords with me.
First, there are obvious contrasts to be drawn between the leadership styles of Lincoln with George Bush. How different would the world be today if George Bush had chosen more independent, stronger voices with which to surround himself? Would a Bush cabinet that included rivals such as McCain have made different choices? (Although, to be fair, recent news stories seem to show that some departed Bush cabinet members, such as John Ashcroft, may deserve more credit for independence than they have been given.) While I doubt the overall direction of policy would have been that different, I suspect the policies might have been implemented with more competence.
Second, as we continue to suffer through this extended presidential election cycle, with both parties fielding lots of candidates, I wonder if a similar team could be assembled from either party. I doubt that Bill Richardson, for example, will be able to win the Democratic party's nomination, but his resume makes him an intriguing choice for the cabinet in a Democratic administration. Could Mitt Romney and John McCain coexist in the same Republican administration? All kinds of intriguing possibilities and combinations come to mind. Right now, the Democratic field looks like a deeper pool of talent to me than the Republican field, but there is a long way to go.
Yes, I know that I've been a bit slow to update the blog lately – actually, it's been three months since I've had a chance to write anything up here. There are a couple of reasons for the quiet period. I've been busy with work, without the luxury of the occasional week (or two) off that I enjoyed when I was teaching on a contract basis. I also haven't been traveling quite so much – travel provided lots of low-hanging fruit for blogging.
So, a couple of things just to bring things up to date:
- I've been continuing to take the train to the office almost every day. I'm lucky – it takes me almost exactly the same amount of time to get to the office, door-to-door, whether I drive or take the train. With gas going for as much as $3.45/gallon in San Diego, and with a subsidy from my employer for my Coaster pass, it just doesn't make any sense to drive in.
- I've ridden home from the office on my bike once so far. I should have worked my way up to the full 23.38 miles in small increments over the course of a couple of weeks, but instead I decided to bike the whole way home (I had done a couple of 8-9 mile weekend rides). Unfortunately, I ended up pinching a nerve in my lower back so I'll have to wait a couple of weeks before trying again. I will try again, though. No reason that I can't work at least 30 biking miles per week into my commute. At a minimum, I should at least be leaving my car in the garage and riding my bike down to the station (exactly 1.0 miles according to my bike computer).
- I made my first trip to Petco Park, seeing the Padres lose to the Dodgers in 17 innings, so I had plenty of time to check out the ballpark. I like the park, but it wasn't exactly what I expected – far more old-fashioned and utilitarian than I expected, especially when compared to other recently-built ballparks like Minute Maid or Bank One Ballpark.
- I walked down to the Spring Carlsbad Street Faire a few Sundays ago. Good people watching, although the vendors seemed to have the same assortment of junk you see at most of these street fairs.
- Moving into my new apartment was my first opportunity to sort through some of the boxes that I've had in storage since I moved out of the Redan house – Goodwill enjoyed a nice little dividend.
- And, of course, I'm still enjoying sunsets on the beach as often as I can.
Overall, the adjustment to my new life in California has been going well. I definitely miss family and friends back in Texas, but I am also convinced that this was the right move for me. There have definitely been some challenges, but on the whole it has been a good first half of 2007.