When the Good Lord created me, I think he or she accidentally forgot three genes. Until recently, their absence did not seem to matter very much, but now that my wife and I are raising kids, I would like to get the full set. Maybe with advances in genetic therapies in 2016, I can. Here's what I need:
1. The Happy for You Gene. This is the one where you genuinely feel good for your friends' success. To be sure, I do not wish any of our friends ill, of course, but when one couple recently told us about their exotic trip-of-a-lifetime -- to a beach my wife and I have wanted to visit for a long time -- I did not feel their joy. In fact, if it is true one turns green with envy, I was somewhere between emerald and kelly. It has been suggested to me that it would be a better example for our kids if I could celebrate the happiness of others.
2. The Athleticism Gene. I do not aspire to be great, good or even mediocre. I just want to be competent enough to help my young son with basic things like tossing a football, batting, putting, etc. It's not that I can't, but his uncles and grandfathers are much better than I, and just once, I would like to him to "choose me" at family gatherings when the kids play games outside.
3. The Math Gene. I have long accepted the fact that I have to think twice when asked to add two and two. And I will never forget high school geometry when I was on the verge of failing, and it was only because my father convinced the teacher that if I failed the course I would end up in his class again, that I passed. Now our daughter comes to me with her 8th-grade homework and says "Dad, can you help me?" I am handed something that looks like the wiring diagram for the space shuttle, and sadly, have to hand it back to her saying: "Honey, No. I really can't." It would be nice to be able to offer some value or insight that would be helpful even if I cannot possibly ever grasp the concept of negative integers.
That's only part of what I hope 2016 brings. In keeping with the theme of threes, how about these things I hope 2016 leaves behind? Specifically, phrases that were so overused in 2015 they should be banned forever:
1. "It is what it is." How lame. While I fully recognize the importance of playing the cards we're dealt in life and learning to distinguish between what we can change and what we cannot, this phrase is just a cop-out, give-up phrase which has no real meaning. Retire it.
2. "Spot on." This is the U.S., not the U.K. As mesmerizing as some find a British accent, it is pretentious to use this phrase. "On the mark" or "on target" should see a return to prominence.
3. "Double Down." Obama on climate change, Hillary on women's issues, Trump on immigration, Cruz on religion - you name a candidate and they have been described by a pundit as "doubling down" on something. The phrase is very worn out, not to mention being an inappropriate linking of political behavior to casino games.
And speaking of pundits, watchers of CNN, Fox, CNBC, MSNBC and other cable news channels could easily come to believe that this country has only five professions: interviewer, candidate, "political operative," retired military or intelligence officer, or "community activist." There must be millions of them, and annoyingly, they all begin their answers to questions with either "look," or "listen," both of which are rude. Those words are commands and convey a sense of annoyance that is rarely merited. Given the potential monetary benefits that come from being featured as an "expert" on a national television news program, it would seem more appropriate to say "thank you" before pontificating.
Truth be told, I suspect 2016 will not deliver the genes I seek, the elimination of tired empty phrases, nor courtesy on the part of those chosen to be talking heads on TV. More importantly, however, it will deliver a new President of the United States, on whose shoulders will fall an extraordinary burden - keeping the country safe and fostering prosperity. But I am not worried. Listen, I'm doubling down on my confidence in America. The election is what it is, and in the end the voters will be spot on about who is the right candidate. I hope.
Mark D. Weinberg served as Special Assistant to the President and Assistant Press Secretary in the Reagan White House and as Director of Public Affairs in the Office of (former) President Ronald Reagan. He is writing a book, Movie Nights with the Reagans, to be published by Simon & Schuster.