Of mice and men (or just politics and football coaches)

By Don Rush

Last week I was figuratively turning the electric pages of the online edition of the Detroit News and noticed a column by Nolan Finley. Well, actually it was just the headline: Mike Rogers may make a presidential run. Holy Cast Your Ballot, Batman! Mike may run for the White House?

I like Mike, so I’m gonna tell him as one family man to another, “Mike, for the love of whatever is decent, don’t do it!”

I haven’t seen, nor heard from Mike since he was our United States Congressman back in the earlier 2000s. He was the only politician who made it part of his hometown tours to stop at our newspaper offices in Lake Orion, Clarkston and Oxford. When he wasn’t in Washington, D.C., he would actually visit. Not many other politicians from Washington, Lansing or even local would make time to do that. Then, he decided he was done and didn’t seek another term in Congress. He was gone.

Anyway, back to the Detroit News column. Wrote Finely, “The Iowa State Fair draws presidential wannabes like cows draw flies . . . Anyone who sees the White House in their dreams is obligated to make the pilgrimage to Des Moines to yak up farmers, gnaw on corn cobs and woo the precinct delegates who will vote in Iowa’s critical first-in-nation presidential caucuses . . . So why is former Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers strolling the Iowa fairgrounds this week with a corn dog in his hand?”

The implication, Finley made, was clear. Mike is putting his toe in the water, checking the temperature to see if it’s the right time to run for President of these here United States.

The picture in this column was from one of Mike’s visits to our Oxford office. This picture always makes me smile and in my head I caption it, “Politician puttin’ the squeeze on the little guy.” I wanted the picture of Rogers shaking my hand, while holding The Oxford Leader. I asked  one of our reporters to take the picture. Mike didn’t know I would go into clown mode (fact is, neither did I). But, he was a good egg about it and went with it.

I’m glad Finley wrote his piece because Rogers was kinda’ forgotten to me – outta sight, outta mind. With the new column I was able to look into what the former Congressman from Brighton has been up to – he basically started his own non-profit foundation: Leadership to Ensure the American Dream (LEAD).

According to the foundation’s website, “LEAD is a new initiative born out of a time-tested idea: that America is a force for good and that the pursuit of the American Dream is as essential today as it has been at each critical juncture in the development of our nation. We aim to foster a discussion about how the American Dream manifests in individuals, families, groups, and private enterprises. LEAD brings forward stories of how the achievement of dreams and the journeys chasing them have shaped our country and our people. Our focus is on the foundation of the American Dream. The bedrock the American Dream is built upon is the freedom for all Americans to succeed. Freedom must be secured and protected as a fundamental value and understood to be inherently fragile. . . Our overarching philosophy is to lead the conversation with leaders and people impacted by critical public policy issues and provide a space for in-depth analysis. LEAD creates a platform to address the complex issues we must face as families, communities, states, and as a country that impacts the American Dream above the political crossfire.”

Well, it sounds good: American Dream, freedoms and more American Dream, rah, rah, sis, boom, bah – GOOOOOOOOO, America!

Good luck, Mike. As of right now, you have my vote (and, I hope the corn dog was good).

* * *

Another one of my favorite people was sorta’ in the news recently. Kurt “KR” Richardson was a football coach and before that player at Clarkston High School. He coached for 35 years in Clarkston and compiled a 274-98 record, which at the time of his retirement last year was good enough to make him the 16th winningest coach in Michigan High School history. His teams won three state championships, seven regional, 10 district and 14 league championships. Not bad.

Yes, yes, yes. I played football for KR when he was just an assistant coach, and he nick-named me “Astro,” so I am biased, but it was wonderful to hear he will be honored at the home game against Southfield A&T on Thursday, September 1. All alumni players are to show up at 6:15 p.m. On field ceremony starts at 6:30. Kickoff is at 7. I hope to be there and if my Astro cap he bought for me (about 40 years) hasn’t fallen apart, I will don it for the fun.

Back in the early 2000s, Congressman Mike Rogers (standing smiling) paid yours truly (grimacing on his knees) a visit to our Oxford Leader office.

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