It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Theodore Roosevelt uttered those words in the Sorbonne in Paris fully a hundred years ago. Thirty-six years ago last month, President Nixon quoted from them in his resignation speech. Today, they are thoroughly apropos to his grandson Christopher Nixon Cox. On Tuesday night, after a hard-fought three-way race for the Republican nomination in New York’s First Congressional District, he came in third with 24%, behind George Demos and the winner Randy Altschuler.
Mr. Cox responded to his defeat with a concession statement that would have made his grandfather proud. And, though some bloggers gloated over his loss, they are surely mistaken in thinking that this is his farewell to politics. History shows that not every politician wins the first time out, in the fashion of RN, JFK or Ronald Reagan. To mention four recent examples at the highest level:
In his first try at elective office in Texas in 1964, George H. W. Bush was defeated by incumbent Ralph Yarborough in a race for the United States Senate.
His successor in the Oval Office, Bill Clinton, was defeated in his first race, for the U.S. House of Representatives from Arkansas in 1974.
And George W. Bush was defeated the first time he ran for office, for a House seat in Texas in 1978.
All three won the second time they ran – the elder Bush when he ran for a House seat in 1966, the younger Bush when he ran for Governor of Texas, and Clinton when he ran for Arkansas Attorney General two years after his initial defeat.
In 2000, Barack Obama was beaten two-to-one in a primary race for a House seat from Illinois by the incumbent, Bobby Rush. Four years later, he was elected to the United States Senate, and began to lay the groundwork for his road to the White House.
Chris Cox fought hard and honorably, and though he lost this time, he “dared greatly,” and he will be back.