Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Art of Compromise

I had a nice talk with President Obama on the phone last night. We've both been busy lately, so it was nice to catch up on things.

For months he begged me to step in and resolve the health-care legislation, but in the end we both just stepped back to watch it all play out--like watching a glass of milk tip off the edge of the table and smash to pieces on the floor--and predictably Congress has come up with a compromise that no one likes very much, except that it may be better than nothing at all.

Compromise is complicated. In our house, Cheryl and I sometimes cannot come to an agreement over simple things--like paint color. But we try one color after another until we find the one we both can live with. And we always look for that certain something that we both really like, however infrequently it may happen. For instance, we were in Minnesota once, eating at a restaurant by Lake Superior (way up north). As we drove away, she mentioned a painting on the wall, which surprised me because I was just then thinking about that painting. We were so amazed to be in agreement that we immediately decided to get it.

But legislation is like cooking a meal. If I want soup for dinner but Cheryl wants salad, do we put it all in a blender and mix it all up? No, we have salad.

Years ago, when I first started playing in bands, I spent hours and hours listening to John Mayall's piano recordings, and I still remember the day I realized that I, too, could play the blues. Maybe not very well, but that didn't matter--John Mayall was not very good, and he was making records. In fact, he still is making records. This one is from the old days.

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