Via RCP comes this video (which, I understand, is but one segment in a longer speech, and I confess I haven’t yet seen the whole thing), of Justin Amash giving some remarks during his primary victory speech yesterday. I know there are many people who are watching Justin Amash’s career very closely; I am not one of them. I know almost nothing about him frankly and have formed no strong opinions one way or another about him. But I will say that after watching this video I think less of him as a person, whatever I think about him as a politician:
I gather from some of the folks I follow on twitter who are fans of Amash that his primary challenger Brian Ellis ran an exceptionally dirty campaign. Almost always I have found that people who support a politician think that his/her opponents are dirty, but I digress. Let’s grant that Ellis (and apparently Hoekstra) ran a very dirty and personal campaign against Amash. I definitely would not have objected to Amash defending himself vociferously using remarks like these or even stronger as the campaign went on.
But to stoop to this level when the game is over and the votes already counted reeks of being a poor winner which is about the only thing I find more personally distasteful than being a poor loser. If you feel so bitter about your defeated opponent that you cannot say anything magnanimous in the moment of your victory then you should probably not say anything at all. While I know very little about this guy’s politics except the fact that he irritates leadership (a quality I like), what I do know is that his behavior in this video is something I would point out to my kid as a bad example of behavior.
I think all of us have engaged in some endeavor or another where we felt our opponent was being overly aggressive or even cheating and on those occasions where we are nonetheless able to win it sure does feel satisfying but at the end of the game you still go through the line and shake the other team’s hand and say “good game.” That’s part of a lesson that I hope every responsible parent tries to teach their kid – that there’s a time to fight hard and let your fangs out but you can still show class and grace in the process. And nothing is more lacking in class or grace than kicking dirt on a defeated opponent.
Maybe Pete Hoekstra and Brian Ellis do owe Justin Amash an apology. He’s not going to get it from behaving like a petulant child this way. And he’s not enamoring himself of anyone or setting a good example to anyone in the process.