Another Perspective

Conflictions

American life imitates the Daytona 500.

By 2.21.06

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"Conflictions! I love it!" Uncle Pundit was rejoicing.

But is that really a word?

"Of course it is a word. In disuse now, maybe, but a noun that means in a state of conflict."

Where do you see it?

"You see it where that NASCAR driver, Ryan Newman, accuses the Daytona winner Johnson of cheating, says he is pretty sure at least 'three of his last four wins have had conflictions.' He means his car was rigged wrong. Newman doesn't know it, but he has coined the word for our times.

"What else but confliction describes where we are today -- what with the administration wanting to give control of our major ports to an outfit run by Dubai in the United Arab Emirates? Even Frist is saying 'whoa there,' but the President is saying he'll veto any 'whoa' the Congress may try to toss at him."

Confliction, eh? Kinda describes it, all right.

"From all the hollering, you'd think they were putting Osama bin Laden in charge of Air Traffic Control. Wait'll all those port-side comedians get a hold of this one. But it's just one example."

More conflictions, Uncle?

"Yep. Take the Olympics. Big confliction. Americans busting their hump on some frozen Alp while all their compatriots back home are watching American Idol."

Heck, they don't even know the old U. S. of A. is coming along in curling. I bet they don't even know snowboarding has become an Olympic sport, Uncle.

"'Course not. All Americans know is that snowboarding has damn near ruined skiing, like those jet skis have ruined a day at the beach. Big confliction there. As big as a hundred snowmobiles clattering through Yellowstone Park in the dead of winter.

"A sports guy, Curt Gowdy, who just passed away, knew about one of the biggest conflictions of our time. In the '30s, when Byron 'Whizzer' White was a football star at Colorado U, another guy from Gowdy's home state of Wyoming also starred at the University of Wyoming. He was John 'Johnny' Winterholler. Football, basketball, baseball, he played it all. In fact, he and White played against one another on the football field. Comes the confliction. In 1940 Winterholler joins the Marines, winds up in the Philippines. Two years later White joins the Navy, serves in the South Pacific as well.

"Winterholler winds up in the Bataan Death March and prison camp. Never walks again. Wheelchair the rest of his life. White goes on to become a Justice of the Supreme Court, athletic spring in his step 'til the end. Both make it into their 80s.

"Confliction is the watchword of our time. Those little ear drops or whatever they call those money projects they drop into big appropriation bills in the dead of night become more confliction when the public finds out. Just like when they discover that Constitution Avenue has been taken over by 'K Street.'"

You mean the lobby lawyers' hang out?

"Persactly. The whole country is in a state of conflict over that other conflict, the one in Iraq and the one brewing next door in Iran. Whadda we do? Send Iran to the United Nations, or to the principal's office? Six 'a one, half a dozen of the other.

"But you gotta admit: that Newman guy may not win another race, but he coined the word that fits the fix we're in. And if I knew his address, I'd send him a bottle of vintage you-know-what."

No, Uncle, what?

"Confliction, ought-six."

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About the Author

Reid Collins is a former CBS and CNN news correspondent.