Friday, October 5, 2007

Washington Heights' Finest

The George Washington High School in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan has a number of notable alumni. Henry Kissinger's diplomacy, Harry Belafonte's creative juices, and Rod Carew's hitting stroke all trace their origins to the school. The two alums, however, who are still grabbing the most headlines in today's world, Alan Greenspan and Manny Ramirez, are seemingly very different, yet share a common opacity to the general public. To wit:

Ramirez: "Forget about the trade man. This is the place I want to be man. It's great man. They love me here man. This is the place to be. 'Manny being Manny', it's great man."

July 31, 2005; just after having delivered a game-winning hit on the trade deadline after fully expecting to leave the Red Sox

Greenspan: "I guess I should warn you, if I turn out to be particularly clear, you've probably misunderstood what I've said."

1988; shortly after becoming Fed Chairman

You could make the argument that lack of clarity gives a Fed Chairman the freedom and flexibility to react appropriately as the economic conditions and markets ebb and flow. And that eccentricity also gives a baseball player the freedom and flexibility to "be himself" in a high-pressure media market.

But what happens after "the game is over"? Greenspan's The Age of Turbulence offers valuable insight into how he formed his worldview and applied it to his job. I, for one, can't wait until Manny's career is over and he writes his book.

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