Signing Off To Run For The Senate
Wednesday - July 19, 2006
Editor’s note: Jerry Coffee has voluntarily chosen to stop writing his column while running for the U.S. Senate. We’ll miss his column, as I’m sure many readers will, but we salute him for his willingness take his ideas and principles into public service.
With my recent commitment to become a member of the United States Senate representing this incredibly diverse, dynamic and beautiful-beyond-words state of Hawaii, this column will be my last, at least for the foreseeable future.
In the three years I’ve been writing, MidWeek publisher Ron Nagasawa, editor Don Chapman and managing editor Terri Hefner have allowed me great latitude in both subject and style, and have - by example and dialogue - taught me much about the professionalism of the craft. And you, my readers, have always had my attention with your feedback, sometimes orchids, sometimes shrapnel. In either case, thank you for caring enough.
My wife, Susan Page, who has turned out a weekly MidWeek column for 14 years, continues to inspire me with her creativity and skill. Some weeks we will go through our too familiar routine: “What are you gonna write about this week, Honey?” ... “I dunno, what are you gonna write about?” ... “I dunno, what are you gonna ...” And then just before we submit the columns, usually right up against the deadline, we’ll read them to one another. And every time, I am humbled by her skill and the twinkle in her words.
And just an hour ago, she didn’t even know what she was gonna write about!
Our normal guideline for a column’s length is 600 words, and if I could stick to that, the task would be easier - 600 words go by in a blink. I think it was one of our Founding Fathers who said in a letter to his wife, “I’d have written a shorter letter but I didn’t have time!” Indeed, making my points succinctly through self-editing has been the greatest challenge.
And Ron Nagasawa is the master, making cleverly subtle observations on human nature - usually his own - in the fewest of words.
Don Chapman is gracious in the latitude he accords his columnists. One of the joys of reading MidWeek is that you never know what “so and so” is going to say about “such and such.” And, of course, philosophically we cover the spectrum.
In seeking balance, I’ve waxed seriously one week and playfully the next, but there are so many truly grave issues facing us now as a city, a state and certainly as a nation. It has been difficult to “lighten up” even occasionally. Nevertheless, not wanting to be the “curmudgeon columnist,” I have written lightly, from my colorful grandfathers, Shorty Wells and Charlie Coffee, to the dogs I have owned.
I have tried to write according to my conscience, feeling I would have wasted this incredible privilege if I didn’t.
I have written disproportionally, perhaps, on the imperative to understand and appreciate the unprecedented danger we face as a nation today. We are dealing with a centuries-old historical cycle of intifada carried out by radical Islamic fascists against all who are not like them.
They don’t even want to convert us - they want to kill us.
They are our opposite: We love life, they love death. We extol freedom, they preach and practice repression, barbarism and hate. By now, that should be clear to all Americans.
The only way America is going to survive - and I mean literally - is to put the political bickering behind us, and do whatever is necessary to win.
We can’t change the past - everyone must get over it.
If we are to prevail, we must be united in our focus upon winning over an implacable enemy, and that enemy is not the democracy-seeking people of Iraq, our own troops there or Bill Clinton or George Bush.
As POWs in North Vietnam, our survival depended upon our unity. Every man knew that no matter how much he was hurting, a comrade was hurting even more, and you just had to be there for him. Our motto was simple: “Unity Over Self.”
Hawaii and America - both of which I love to tears - need to embrace that motto now.
Before it’s too late.
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