Hero of Journalism Award

I will present this coveted prize to the next reporter / pundit / columnist who gets through a discussion of the pros and cons of Hillary Clinton as Sec of State without using the now-unbearably hackneyed term "team of rivals."

Nothing against Doris Kearns Goodwin, who in prehistoric times was my professor in a college course on the American presidency. And nothing against her application of the concept to the composition of Lincoln's wartime cabinet and the political challenge of holding Union factions together before and during war. (For somebody who does challenge that application, go here.)

But this is not the Civil War, Obama is not Lincoln -- and even if he were and all circumstances were identical in every way, out of simple self-respect you'd think people would get embarrassed about using the catch phrase they'd heard a million times for the million-and-first. To me, listening to this unvaried refrain is like hearing "bitchin' !" among my fellow teenagers in the late 1960s or "groovy! " after that. And I'm in China!

We do already have words for the underlying concept, and many other examples in history than Lincoln's bringing Seward et al into his administration. You could call it an "inclusive" approach. Or "big tent" politics. Or "bipartisanship," if the rivals in question are from the other party. Or "coalition-building." Or "compromise." Or a "unity cabinet." If you really want a hoary adage, you have two familiar ones to chose from: something about bygones being bygones, or about keeping your friends close, and your enemies...  America needs a lot of things, but not additional cliches to stunt political thought before it has a chance of taking place. (This reminds me of the tech cliche "mashup," to describe what really is an "overlay" or a "combination" or "fusion.")

As I write, the Sunday talk shows have not yet begun in America. My guess is that no one who appears on them will still be eligible for my award at the end of the day. But I am an optimist and hope to be proven wrong!