Every year, I have to come up with a work plan for the next year. It’s a list of projects, along details about equipment, personnel, money, and timing. There’s a “must get done” list and a secondary “like to do if possible” list of things that aren’t critical, but would be nice to do if everything falls into place. In general, I have a good idea of what I’m going to be doing, and when. There are years where I’ve not only gotten the “must do” list done, the “like to do” list has been run through and I’m having to come up with something else. Those are the good years. The more usual case is that I get the “must be done” list and several things on the “like to do if possible” list completed. This was not one of those years.
Things got off to a bad start when winter decided to hang on. “Normal” is that the snow is mostly melted off by early April, but every now and then you have a case where Spring is delayed. This was looking to be one of those years, because by the middle of April we still had a few feet of snow on the ground, occasional snowstorms, and the lakes were still covered with ice. Which meant reshuffling plans, because you can’t take boats out if the lakes are frozen, and getting into some of the areas was next to impossible because of the snow. That was annoying, but not unexpected. What was unexpected was that a tropical warm front carrying large amounts of rain would strike. Within 48 hours, not only had temperatures gotten warm, we had 5-7 inches of rain, and all the snow melted. The result? A 500-year flood.
That meant that most of our starting plans went out the window and had to be seriously re-vamped. It wasn’t until the middle of June that many things we normally have completed by early May were getting finished. What didn’t help was at that same time, one of our senior field people decided to take another job, leading to even more scrambling. If you wondered why I decided to put this blog on hiatus around that time, that was why. Despite that, July and August were actually pretty good from the weather/work standpoint. It looked like we’d be on track to get at least the “must be done” list finished, when Hurricane Irene appeared. Although we didn’t get the damage that other areas did, we still got a lot. Many back roads and trails washed out, and huge numbers of trees down, making many areas inaccessible. The remnants of Tropical Storm Lee didn’t help matters.
The end result was that we didn’t quite manage to get to everything we’d planned on doing. Not just the “would like to do” stuff, but the “must do.” It was a repeat of an object lesson: That no matter what your plans were, how much you wanted to accomplish, you may end up doing what you can.
Ideals are wonderful things, but there’s also reality. In reality one has to deal with things like budgets, time management, competing interests, and rules.
In politics – and in life – there’s a difference between what you may want to do, plan to do, and what you can do.
Those are the basic problems every President faces. They all enter office with a plan, a list of things they want to do. But those realities and limitations often mean that it’s a case of what they can do instead of what they wanted to do. Even then, whatever they hoped they were going to do when they ran is not always what they end up doing. The world has a way of coming up with problems that were not foreseen.
It’s a lesson that has apparently escaped most of the “professional pundits” as well as various bloggers who claim to be “speaking for the Left.” It’s easy to complain about what didn’t get done. It’s easy to put your issue as number one on the priority list. Unfortunately, the world has had a nasty habit of reshuffling those priorities. No one who was running for President in 2007 planned on the economy tanking. None of them thought about an “Arab Spring,” that there would be a euro crisis, that Republicans would turn into total obstructionists, or that they’d win control of the House in 2010. But they did happen, and despite that, Democrats and this President have accomplished a lot. Have the “lefter than thou” group pointed to those accomplishments? No, they’re still obsessing about what they didn’t get. You know what? I’d have liked a lot of things done as well. I’m sure that the President and various members of Congress would have. But the practical reality is that you don’t get to do everything you’d like to do. You get done what you can. That is a lesson I’ve learned – and just had a refresher course in – myself. It’s a lesson that the gripers won’t learn.