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There is a right way to disagree with someone, and there is a wrong way. Well, there are a few different wrong ways.
We saw an example of the latter earlier this week.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl and, deservingly, celebrated with a boat parade in Tampa harbor. Tom Brady let the moment take him and threw the Lombardi Trophy to one of his teammates. Who happened to be in a different boat.
Lorraine Grohs disagreed with Brady’s toss. So far, so good. But then she took it a step further, demanding an apology from the seven-time Super Bowl champion.
Why did she think she was entitled to an “I’m sorry?” Sit down. We’re going to play the “degrees of separation” game.
In 1966, then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle commissioned a trophy to be awarded to the winner of the inaugural world championship game; we now call it the “Super Bowl.”
He approached a vice president of Tiffany & Co., the famous jeweler, and concocted a design. The NFL paid for the service. Tiffany’s had their employees, including their master silversmith, go to work building the trophy.
The silversmith was a gentleman named Greg Grohs. He was Lorraine’s father.
To summarize, the NFL gave the world championship trophy — that it paid for — to the championship team. The MVP of that team tossed the trophy to a teammate. And a woman whose dad had worked to craft the first version of the trophy 54 years ago on behalf of his employer that had been paid by a client for a custom piece wanted an apology because she was offended by the “disgraceful” and “disrespectful” display.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the wrong way to disagree with people.
Ms. Grohs’ demand was simply bizarre. If she believed Brady’s toss was somehow inappropriate, say so. That is the right way to disagree with his actions. But the sense of entitlement — particularly when her connection to the trophy is so tenuous — leading to a demand for an apology is absurd.
Meanwhile, a brouhaha is brewing between some members of the Maine GOP and Sen. Susan Collins. Some have even sought a “censure” of Collins, similar to Grohs’ requested apology. Instead, the state GOPers have shown how to disagree the right way.
It is no secret (and no surprise) that some Republicans remain supporters of Donald Trump. So, when Collins voted in favor of his conviction at the trial in the Senate, they disagreed. Vehemently.
So what did they do? On Wednesday night, many members of the GOP State Committee signed a letter to Collins.
They made their position known. It is unequivocally different from Collins’ rationale. But they didn’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good, and they acknowledged the areas of common purpose and shared interest with Maine’s senior senator.
In short, they disagreed the right way. And Collins responded amicably, despite the disagreement.
Politics is a process of compromise. Rarely will two people agree exactly on every single issue. If there are 20 policy questions with two possible answers, the odds of two people choosing the exact same answer every time are over a million to one. And just because someone might disagree with you once in a while does not mean you deserve an apology from them, or that they should be censured.
Current state senator — and former GOP party chair — Rick Bennett is a vocal opponent of Central Maine Power’s “Clean Energy Corridor.” Former governor — and potential future GOP candidate — Paul LePage is a supporter of the new transmission line. Both Republicans who worked closely together in their old roles.
And they now find themselves disagreeing on this particular policy question.
But unlike Lorraine Grohs, neither believes they are somehow entitled to an apology from the other. They aren’t demanding censures for having the gall to hold a different viewpoint.
They are disagreeing the right way.
And the members of the Maine GOP did the same with their letter to Susan Collins.
Michael Cianchette is a Navy reservist who served in Afghanistan. He is in-house counsel to a number of businesses in southern Maine and was a chief counsel to former Gov. Paul LePage.