Cheering For Colt, Political Women

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - January 24, 2007
| Del.icio.us

First, a round of very loud applause for Colt Brennan, the record-breaking quarterback of the UH football team. Brennan, as everyone knows by now, chose to pass up the NFL draft for his senior season as Warrior quarterback. According to Coach June Jones, Brennan would have been the third QB taken, and might have been offered as much as $25 million to sign.

In choosing to play another season, Brennan opted for team, fellowship, and the kindness and generosity Hawaii and its people have shown him.

“I feel like Coach Jones and the University of Hawaii gave me an opportunity at a time when no one else would,” Brennan said at the news conference announcing his decision. “I’ve been a part of something special these last two years.”

The kid with the golden arm deserves big crowds next fall.


Second, a lament. The Brennan story ran as the lead in both Honolulu dailies and on most TV stations the day the state Legislature opened its 2007 session. It was also a day during which two U.S. soldiers died in Iraq and 17 Shiites fell victim to a suicide car bomber at a Baghdad market - which made page three.

A whole section of both dailies belong to sports coverage, and they are the most read sections of the papers. The bloody, destructive, wealth-consuming war in Iraq seldom emerges from the inside pages - and never, in my memory, has deserved a section to call its own.

What if it did? What if works by respected journalists critical of the Iraq war - like Thomas Ricks’ Fiasco, George Packer’s The Assassin’s Gate and Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower - were serialized in a weekly special section of our dailies? Would we remain so passive in our response to President George W. Bush’s escalation of the war?

Maybe, and sports might have to take part of the blame. Karl Marx called religion “the opiate of the people.” Perhaps. But in modern American life I would argue that the religion of sports is a far more destructive drug. Colt’s decision, the controversy over who deserves to be called the national collegiate football champion, the NFL playoff picture: All are powerful distractions from serious matters of life, death and the future.

But here’s more applause, for a powerful array of political women, beginning with Linda Lingle. Last week the governor proposed a $346 million tax reduction plan that would adjust income tax brackets, provide a $100 refund for each taxpayer with a household income under $100,000, eliminate the excise tax on 11 basic foods, and restore the excise tax exemption on ethanol-blended gasoline, for starters.

These recommendations come on the heels of a provocative list of Lingle proposals for developing new industries for Hawaii.

In the state Senate chamber, the governor’s proposals will be greeted by Colleen Hanabusa, the first woman to preside over either House of the state Legislature. Hanabusa brings a razor-sharp mind to that task, and she will be assisted by senate vice-president Donna Mercado Kim - one of the toughest questioners anyone ever faced in a legislative committee room.


Across Punchbowl Street, Barbara Marshall enters her third week as chair of the Honolulu City Council. In preparing a cover story about Marshall for last week’s MidWeek, I heard testimonial after testimonial to Marshall’s industry, integrity and MercadoKim-esque capacity for asking the right questions - and with sufficient quantities of righteous rage.

And then there’s Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to serve as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. In her first 100 hours she shepherded both a hike in the minimum wage and legislative ethics reform through Congress.

I believe the title of the feminist anthem is I Am Woman. I ain’t a woman, but I’m sure happy women are so much in evidence in political year 2007.

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