Ernie Harwell, Erik Prince, and a Quote from “Harvey”…

This post actually has to do with the cartoon that will be in tomorrow’s Grand Rapids Press, but I couldn’t hold off.

The day before my deadline I was noodling through what to say about Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial security contracting firm, Blackwater. Prince was born and raised in Holland, Michigan and was invited back to give a speech at luncheon that traditionally kicks off Holland’s Tulip Time festivities. It is not extraordinary to honor a famous and successful native son in such a way, especially when his parents were largely responsible for rebuilding downtown Holland after the mall was built in the 1990s and the big stores moved out. However, it was fairly extraordinary to invite a fellow whose company has made massive profits off our two ongoing wars while killing innocent people in the process. And to have him kickoff your town’s marquee event, which typically gets no more edgy than the possibility of one of the Oak Ridge Boys’ colostomy bags accidentally falling onto a stage. Further, up till the day of the speech, Tulip Time organizers had agreed to Prince’s request to exclude all media from the public event, eventually allowing the press but no recording devices. Yes, Prince is very clever, but not very, well, nice.

Then Tuesday night Ernie Harwell passed away and my attention shifted to him. (Buy a paper tomorrow — it’s a pretty good cartoon.)

This morning I was again thinking about Prince and Harwell, and one of my favorite movie quotes popped to mind. It’s from the Jimmy Stewart movie, “Harvey,” and it seems to sum it up well:

Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.

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