Regarding George Mitchell’s predicted failure… They’re all probably right. However, I just received the latest Alumni mag from Colby College, and felt a degree of pride for my old alma mater.
Mitchell (actually a native of Waterville, Maine, where Colby is located) spoke at the school last semester and was confronted by similar doubts in a Q & A. He pointed to the peace process in Ireland, where he also faced deep-seated skepticism and suggestions that he just wrap it up and go home. But, he explained, after months of countless setbacks, intransigence on both sides and disappointment, one day the clouds parted and everything fell into place.
“I was asked not dozens, but hundreds of times by reporters, ‘Senator, you’ve failed. When are you going home?’ Politicians held press conferences demanding that I go home on a regular basis. I persevered because, although I was often discouraged, I always believed that it could be done.”
I’m not suggesting things will go as swimmingly in the Mideast, but I don’t see the choice of Mitchell as a cynical ploy to throw an over-the-hill diplomat into an unwinnable situation; rather, I see him as someone with endless patience and an underlying professional pride who is going to quietly keep knocking at the door. After all, he was also the one that had the cojones to pierce that other sacred cow– professional baseball– and show it was rife with steroids.
I ain’t naive. History says there will be no progress; but Mitchell may yet pull a rabbit out of his hat.
Voskamp is editor of the Block Island Times.