Editorial | Hermine, Eagles, Politics Point to the Folly of Predictions

If you’re anything like me, you entered last weekend’s official sendoff of summer expecting disaster, in one form or another.

If you’re anything like me, you entered last weekend’s official sendoff of summer expecting disaster, in one form or another.
As Hurricane Hermine — later downgraded to a tropical storm — churned to the south, you may have battened up the hatches and altered Labor Day plans, resigned to spend that rare work- and school-free Monday inside as the deluge arrived.
News reports indicate you were not alone — a veritable exodus of beachgoers fled points along the shore as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency and officials cordoned off the beach.
But you may have been anxious heading into last weekend for another reason: After four meaningless wins in the preseason, the Philadelphia Eagles were entering the regular season empowered — or hobbled — by a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too strategy promulgated by the team’s front office that put Sam Bradford, a somewhat promising but injury-prone and inconsistent quarterback, at center, in charge of an underwhelming offense.
Waiting in the wings was first-round pick Carson Wentz, who fractured a rib early in the preseason and whose acquisition cost the team dearly. The most optimistic of observers were predicting a winning season, but at no more than nine wins, likely short of contention in the playoffs.
Then the weekend came and, as day turned to night on Saturday, everything we knew of meteorology and emergency management, to say nothing of the thought process of Eagles Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman, was thrown out the window.
If the last few days have taught us anything, it’s that no one can truly predict the future and the anxiety-inducing reality of today can quickly become the promise of tomorrow.
Having once owned a small business and known intimately the perils of the feast-or-famine tourist economy, I truly feel for the shopkeepers in such places as Wildwood, Ventnor and Avalon, whose customers — on Labor Day weekend, no less! — were driven away by dire predictions, official warnings and memories of Hurricane Sandy only to look out upon clear skies on Monday.
I don’t mean to denigrate their financial losses with a pithy comparison to the fortunes of an NFL franchise. But there’s a lesson in planning for a rainy day only to see the clouds stay away.
For the Eagles and their fans, an uncertain future with Bradford at the helm was traded by Roseman’s almost unheard of last-minute unloading of his starting quarterback — he went to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for a first-round pick at next year’s Philly-hosted draft — for an equally uncertain future with Wentz, whom coach Doug Pederson identified as the starter in this Sunday’s season opener against the Cleveland Browns.
But there’s a lot to be hopeful, as opposed to apprehensive, for in the trade: Wentz just might become one of the best passers in the league, and it’s nice to know that the Eagles are officially all in when it comes to honing a franchise quarterback.
Down the shore, meanwhile, despite the grumblings about a weekend gone bust, it’s a blessing that a Sandy-level catastrophe was averted, and that the only collateral damage seemed to be in the case of a swimmer who was swept miles away by the roiling waves. (The swimmer emerged near a distant jetty unscathed.)
Picking up on the theme that all is not as it seems, the passage of Labor Day marked another significant milestone — now begins the maddest of mad dashes to the White House in an election year that has already quashed everyone’s expectations. While Republican businessman Donald Trump has, for more times than I care to count, been presumed by the chattering classes to be too far behind to mount any real challenge to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, his ascendancy of late in national polls has left Clinton doggedly defending her handling of emails while U.S. secretary of state.
Will Trump’s “Make America Great” campaign prove successful in the end? Or will Clinton, clearly the most experienced politician of the two, ride a wave of immigrant, female and Democratic backlash against Trump’s calls to build a wall across America’s southern border to occupy the United States’ highest office?
There’s a lot of time between now and Nov. 8 and anything can happen. Past elections have shown that the storm clouds of electoral doom can frequently give way to the sunshine of surprise victory and, just as football fans know about predictions quickly falling asunder on any given Sunday, nothing can be taken for granted.
This much, though, is certain: The uncertainty of politics, as in life, affords us numerous opportunities to reevaluate what we think we know about candidates, their policies and our country. Let’s not waste them.
Who knows? This just might be the year your party wins. It might also be the year the Eagles go all the way.
Joshua Runyan is the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Exponent. He can be reached at jrunyan@jewishexponent.com.


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