Thursday Just Made Me Sad

Bob McDonnell taking the oath of office, January 2010

Bob McDonnell taking the oath of office, January 2010

I suppose the worst thing that happened to me personally on Thursday was that as I was leaving the YMCA I spilled coffee on my crisp white shirt. And darn it, I was lookin’ good. But I had time to go home and change. Actually I didn’t have time but I was close enough that it made sense. I was still late for work. And yes I was still lookin’ good.

Most of the day went along as a normal Thursday. Annoying emails to which I had to respond. Silly questions to answer. I did manage to take a walk at lunch. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It was. But it also took me a good hour and a half to cool down. The day ended on a good note with the first blocking rehearsal for Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure at CAT Theatre. You may call me Dr. Watson.

But before that, about mid-afternoon, I started seeing the Twitter alerts. The jury had reached a verdict in the McDonnell trial. By then everyone was watching to see and hear. The RTD did a good job of updating the numbers on the counts. But every time you clicked on their link you went back to the earlier story which told you nothing.

In the midst of refreshing the Twitter feed, we found out that Joan Rivers had died at the age of 81. Knowing how these things can be a hoax, I went out to Google News to verify. And it was true.

The news was far from being about me, but there was a bit of sensory overload. Both news reports made me sad, but for different reasons.

For the McDonnells the history-making convictions made it a bad day for all Virginians. We’ve never had this happen before in Virginia. We are, thankfully, not Illinois or New Jersey. But now it’s just not as easy to say that.

By all counts, so to speak, the verdict was a shocker. No one, especially Bob and Maureen McDonnell, expected this. The defense team has indicated that there will be an appeal. That’s likely to drag on for months. But no one disputes the fact that for Bob and Maureen McDonnell, life in public service is pretty much over.

Bob McDonnell was a shining star in the Republican Party. He was one of the nation’s most popular governors (yeah, I could document that). He was frequently mentioned as being on the short list for consideration as Mitt Romney’s pick for vice president.

Which brings us to the point that many Republicans think this was simply a partisan witch hunt. Take one of the top candidates out of contention. There’s probably a lot of truth in that. It’s certainly not the first time we’ve seen that happen to a prominent Virginia Republican.

A lot of my friends were posting about their support of the former Governor yesterday. I didn’t jump on that bandwagon, but I share the sentiment. I’ve mentioned before that I worked for him, I campaigned for him. I believed in him. Hanging on my wall is still the first cover of Bearing Drift Magazine. I edited about a dozen or so issues. Bob McDonnell was on the first cover. I’ve thought about replacing it with another cover, and then thought, no. It’s still good. He was still an amazing Governor. Even when I had my disagreements with him.

The story is far from over. There will be appeals, and interviews. And probably a book deal or two.

I find no joy in this. And to those partisans who this morning may be rejoicing about the downfall of a Governor whom they despised, I have simply two words:

Grow up.

That’s what Joan Rivers would often say in her routine. She was a master at ridiculing the ridiculous. She was certainly not without controversy. And in her later years she often appeared bitter.

But she was funny. Damn funny.

I loved it when she was the permanent guest host for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. I’m sorry that the relationship soured.

I remember one particular night watching The Tonight Show. Joan Rivers was hosting. It was the day in 1986 when the Challenger shuttle exploded. Rivers would typically come out and do her comedic monologue to open the show. That evening, dressed in black, she set the monologue aside, paid her respects to the crew of the shuttle and very graciously said we’re going to move on with the show. I wish I could find exactly what she said. I searched but couldn’t find the exact episode. I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.

Instead, I’ll just quote Rivers when she said:

“There are many self-help books by Ph.D.s, but I hold a different degree: an I.B.T.I.A.—I’ve Been Through It All. This degree comes not on parchment but gauze, and it entitles me to tell you that there is a way to get through any misfortune.”

Indeed, Joan. Rest in Peace.

The thing is, neither the McDonnell verdict nor the death of Joan Rivers will change my daily life. I still have deadlines to meet, projects to finish, laps to swim, lines to learn. Oh, do I have lines to learn.

But the sadness that came on Thursday means, for a while at least, the world is a little less bright.


    • Maggie on September 5, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Excellent article Michael! You expressed my sentiments exactly. I too felt like Thursday had a shadow hanging over it. Both major news stories were sad but also will change the world we live in, in a sad way.
    I do enjoy reading your posts!! Maggie

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