Niagara Gazette


October 20, 2013

SINGER: Locating the candidate from left field


Niagara Gazette — The knock on Romney was partly that he grew up affluently, and remained that way. Well Brown’s growing up makes “Les Misérables” sound like a tropical vacation! His was a sink-or-swim childhood of learning to outrun or outhit bigger foes, of waiting for his mom and estranged dad to be even a bit reasonable, not to mention there; and being patient with sadistic or at best, cool step-dads, and meanwhile, trying to acquire role models (mainly teachers and coaches), and playing basketball with grim determination.

Dean’s List at the School of Hard Knocks? No question. But again, the strength and resilience he developed is what makes him real presidential timbre. Unfairness overcome positively may not be a candidate’s sole qualification, but it sure doesn’t hurt!

Brown’s problems remained his classroom, making this sore thumb guy stand out, especially on hoop teams where he did 20 times more than his peers, seeking a scholarship-funded escape to college. Becoming a regional phenom, he was duly swarmed with offers, spurning places like Rochester for a Boston-area campus in order to protect mom and sister.

And he kept being tested at school, going to bat against prejudice of all sorts, then — inspired by storm rescues and the Iran hostage — was tested anew in demanding National Guard training, where he was a leader among people of all backgrounds.

Thence to Boston College Law, plus a rapid rise in the Army hierarchy via more tough training (night parachute jumps, tick-covered treks in the steamy south); and eventually, to lieutenant colonel and military lawyer, where he helped soldiers with searing quandaries like leaving kids back home, and yet ... Brown’s known, too, for being a former “Cosmo” guy?

Wouldn’t the media hype that! In fact, he was pushed by his sister, who sent in pictures that slayed Helen Gurley Brown, and in the early ‘80s, he unexpectedly won as “America’s sexiest man.” He then modeled for cash, while taking leaves from law school and the military. And though he beheld Studio 54 and the coke scene up close, he was thankfully immune, given a background where he’d seen what stimulants can wreak.

Again, such a protective, stay-the-course, and also happy family man would be a fine candidate from left field; but will it happen?

B.B. Singer has taught at several colleges in the area, including Niagara University.

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