Common Sense: Was it Personal?

Do you want to know my crackpot theory on James Jeffords and why I think he's had enough of the Grand Old Party?

It has nothing to do with this budget mess. And nothing to do with differences with the White House on the tax cut. Or with environmental issues this Vermonter holds dear.

No, Jeffords is set to bolt because he was snubbed at a social event. A powerful event. A powerful White House event.

Just a few days ago President Bush honored the teacher of the year, a Vermonter no less, at a big White House shindig. And guess who wasn't invited? James Jeffords, that's who. Just desserts, some Republicans might say. After all, Jeffords dissed them on the budget. So they felt free to diss him back. They didn't much like him. He didn't much like them.

A small issue?

Maybe. But I've seen huge corporate mergers nixed over similar small issues. You know what kills them a lot of the time? Someone gets offended. One of the CEOs gets his nose out of joint because he's not given a proper title or respect. The takeover artist who launches a hostile bid because his calls were never returned. Or the one about Newt Gingrich ticked off at Bill Clinton because of a bad seat on Air Force One.

The truth doesn't even matter. It's the story that sticks.

We all have egos. We all have feelings. We are all proud.

That's why I remember Mark McGwire at times like these. Remember when he broke Roger Maris' home run record a couple of years back? Remember who he invited in the stands that night? The Maris family, for a symbolic passing of the torch. He didn't have to do that. But he did. It was classy. It was nice. It was a home run. It was a lesson then. I think it's a good reminder, now.

But I guess a little late.

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