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Newsweek - What Pittsburgh Can Teach the Country
Howard Fineman is Newsweek's chief political correspondent and grew up in the Burgh. I often heard him refer to Pittsburgh affectionately during his appearances on Imus and, like many of us who have emigrated for opportunities elsewhere, Fineman remains a rabid Steelers fan. This article is written by someone who clearly recognizes some of Pittsburgh's difficulties but retains his affection for the city and hopes for better times ahead. Some excerpts below - the full article is worth a read.
What Pittsburgh Can Teach the Country
A city down on its luck has an optimistic young leader. The scene there mirrors our national situation. Maybe we can all learn something from Luke Ravenstahl.
By Howard Fineman
My editor asked: why should anyone care about a political story from Pittsburgh? Well, for one, it is my glorious but beleaguered hometown ...
OK, the editor said, and the story is ...? My answer: Ravenstahl’s challenge, and Pittsburgh’s, are emblematic of our national situation at this key moment. Politically, America also is glorious but beleaguered, maxed out on credit, despised in the world, not sure we are safe nearly six years after 9/11, distrusting of our president and Congress, convinced (if you believe the polls) that we’re headed in the wrong direction.
What Pittsburgh and America need, above all, is vigorous, shrewd, knowledgeable and optimistic leadership. We need to unite community and country in common effort. And—just a thought—perhaps we need to turn to the generation coming up after the baby boom. ..
From what I see as a kibitzer and sometime returnee, the real problem of this region is political. I’ve been around, and I’ve never seen a place more desperately in need of unified, inspirational, smart political leadership. The government structure is, to put it mildly, a mess: too many bureaucrats and elected officials doing not much. That is fine for the far-too-numerous officeholders, of course. We all have to “put bread on the table,” as they say in Pittsburgh, but it’s a nightmare for the region....
But what the city and region need most is unity and optimism. Can somebody like Ravenstahl provide it? After World War II, famously, the two great leaders of the city got together to remake the “Smoky City.” David Lawrence, the mayor, joined with Richard King Mellon, the banker, to move their respective worlds toward a communal goal: clean up the air and build a new downtown. They succeeded.
Ravenstahl can’t be a new Lawrence; he simply doesn’t have the clout...
But words can have power, and inspiration can matter. His challenge now is to make lifelong citizens out of the college kids who are getting such a good education here. He needs to attract the twentysomethings, college-educated, smart and ambitious.
After all, he stayed here. So must they.