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Don Walton: Saluting Nebraska native Gene Budig
editor's pick topical alert

Don Walton: Saluting Nebraska native Gene Budig

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Gene Budig, academic who ran American League, dies at 81

American League President Gene Budig waits for the start of Game 3 of the American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in Boston on Oct. 16, 1999. The Nebraska native died Tuesday at age 81. 

The list of achievements and accomplishments is remarkable — and oh so long.

But they don't define the man.

There is more.

Rather than repeat all that Gene Budig earned and achieved once again, let's make another list: generous, thoughtful, kind, so very supportive of others, especially young people, and so pleased to see them succeed and grow, so quick to share what he had learned and earned.

Understandably, that doesn't show up in all of the recent stories about him, some of which recalled wonderfully humorous encounters with that privileged breed of major league baseball owners who sometimes forget that, while they may own the clubs, we own the game.

So, let me just add a lifetime achievement that probably belongs at the top of the list in defining this Nebraskan who led three universities and baseball's American League: Gene Budig was an extraordinarily good and decent man. 

* * *

The policy of destruction.

It's hard not to notice.

Most recently, the U.S. Postal Service after a stab at the U.S. Census Bureau.

Before that, and ongoing, the U.S. Justice Department and its role.

And, of course, immigration policy that has left the Statue of Liberty proclaiming a falsehood.

Before that, a whole lineup: trade agreements scrapped, a climate change treaty abandoned, the World Health Organization departed, a nuclear deterrence deal ended, long-standing allies insulted and mutual defense treaties under attack and endangered.

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And the results of November's presidential election already questioned and undermined long before we cast our votes.

This is intended more as observation, and even as an expression of curiosity, rather than as judgment or criticism. Maybe this is exactly what Americans want; we'll find out soon enough.

What's so intriguing is the question of what motivates all of this.

Some of it can be seen as just tearing down what Barack Obama built; but it's more than that.

Is this politics or policy? Is there purpose and an endgame?

Or is this just personality?

* * *

Finishing up: 

* President Donald Trump goes to California on Monday as 29 major wildfires continue to burn, and the visit could turn fiery: He says it's an issue of forest mismanagement (rake your leaves; clean your floors); California's leaders say it's the result of climate change.

* As 2021 legislative redistricting approaches with its fundamental requirement to create districts of equal population, Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon reminds us of the uneven distribution of population in this rural state: Sen. Megan Hunt's district in mid-town Omaha comprises 6.5 square miles; his western Nebraska district contains 17,000 square miles.

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* Now probably is a good time for all of us to begin writing a daily journal for the benefit of future historians: We are in the midst of a pandemic with a long way yet to go and about to experience a presidential election whose results might be rejected by a president and, if so, then what?

* Chuck Hagel, looking ahead: "It's up to us. We're so much better than what we're showing today."

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* Down, but not out: State senators Anna Wishart and Adam Morfeld immediately renew their effort to legalize the use of medical marijuana in Nebraska after the Nebraska Supreme Court erases the issue from the 2020 ballot.

* Downer of the week: "If you're talking about getting back to a degree of normality which resembles where we were prior to COVID, it's going to be well into 2021, maybe even toward the end of 2021," Dr. Anthony Fauci says.

* But the sun is shining once again in our town and we're back in the 80s; life is good.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSdon

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