Times Magazine: Why Candidate Norm Coleman Won't Give Up

Matt Bai in "The Way We Live Now - Everyone a Winner? The Lost Art of Conceding Defeat" - believes he has identified a cultural shift in America. In our present society, we no longer accept losing.

We believe this is nothing new and that fifty years ago we mostly used to call this kind of behavior being a sore loser. But Bai thinks it is more culturally pervasive now. And his poster child for stubbornness is Minnesota's Norm Coleman who lost his election bid for the Senate but still will not concede defeat.

We think Bai is too soft on Coleman. His actions and of the other examples of extreme intransigence that Bai cites are part of the lack of civil behavior that eats away at the core of our political and commercial lives.They ought to be condemned, not analyzed.

Of course, Bai misses the obvious. The flip side of not conceding defeat is a Bush-like victory declaration of "Mission Accomplished" before anything of the sort is a fact.

We could argue that there is no cultural meaning to what Bai discusses. Simply put - the factual reality of the real world is of no concern to doctrinal Republicans like Coleman or Bush.

Bai proves to us by his perambulation of what he thinks is a "lost art" that it will take this country more than six months to completely awaken ourselves from the nightmare of the preceding eight years. He also has it backwards. Culture recapitulates politics, not the other way around.
...What happens in politics, however, can almost never be extricated from the culture at large, and the lost art of losing nobly is by no means an exclusively political phenomenon. At the upper reaches of society, we litigate ever more readily and accept misfortune with ever less stoicism. Being fired from a job becomes the beginning of a negotiation, while a routine school suspension instantly goes to appeal. In part, this is probably the inevitable reckoning for a culture that gives trophies to every Little Leaguer because, as the saying goes, we’re all winners. Shouldering defeat is, after all, a skill that has to be learned early, like speaking Mandarin or sleeping through the night. Then, too, we are guided by an unflagging faith in modern technology — a sense that no discrepancy is small enough to defy absolute quantification. A blown call on a home run hooking foul used to be part of the game, a generations-old lesson in the randomness of adversity. Now the crowd breaks for hot dogs while the instant replay delivers its verdict and the homer is revoked. There are no more bad breaks in life — only bad umps...more...

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