Everyone is always looking for the big advantage.  Whether it’s a military weapon that a country can use to threaten other countries with in order to get their way or some product or technological superiority that a company can use to favorably leverage its position in the marketplace or even a superstar athlete whose presence always tips the balance in favor of his team, everyone wants that special element that delivers the edge.

Here are some good examples from different walks of life.

The B-58 Hustler

During the height of the Cold War in the late ’50s and early ’60s, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were constantly vying for bragging rights with a never-ending string of new and impressive weapons.  New aircraft, submarines, and ICBMs came on line, one after another, as the two adversaries tried to gain the upper hand and show the rest of the world which country and – by direct implication – which system (communism versus capitalism) could produce the superior technological product.

Certainly, no new aircraft of that era was more impressive than America’s Convair B-58 Hustler.  The B-58 was a sinister-looking, futuristic, four-engined delta-winged bomber capable of amazing supersonic speeds that most fighter planes of its day couldn’t match.  It was designed to be fast enough to deliver a nuclear strike on the Russian homeland and then evade their defenses with its blinding speed.  The Hustler was so fast that it set several worldwide speed records in its day, many of which stood for decades.  (Several of these were set by Major Henry J. Deutschendorf, Sr., father of the noted pop-folk singer John Denver.)

Its presence was a shock to the world.  No one had anything like it, not even remotely.  The Russians’ medium bomber counterpart was the slow, obsolete TU-16 Badger, a plane that was as antiquated as the Sopwith Camel next to the sleek Hustler.


Convair B-58 Hustler.

The Hustler was very expensive to buy and operate; it had a terrible reliability record; and it proved to be a troublesome, dangerous plane to fly, with the unacceptably high accident and attrition rate of nearly 20%.  All these factors conspired to limit the Hustler’s operational career to barely a decade, from 1960 to 1970.  (In comparison, the B-52 bomber has just entered its 62nd year of continuous front-line service with one country, a record unmatched by any combat aircraft in history.)

Still, at the time of the Hustler’s appearance, the world stopped and gasped, while the Soviets frantically tried to match it with something of their own.

The Chrysler Minivan

It’s rare that an automotive product creates a brand-new, permanent category, but that’s exactly what the 1984 Chrysler minivans did.  Recognizing an unfulfilled need in the personal automotive market segment for an efficient, easy-to-drive vehicle that could transport a large family and their belongings to school, Little League practice, or vacation, Chrysler improvised upon their “K-car” chassis and came out with the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager minivans.


Chrysler Minivan.

With trim exterior dimensions and familiar carlike driving dynamics, the new minivans struck a chord with the buying public and were an immediate smash success.  All the other carmakers scrambled to come out with their own versions, but with constant upgrades and improvements, the Chryslers remained the market leaders for several more years.

They had more than their fair share of flaws – the first ones were seriously underpowered, they suffered from the notorious early-’80s Chrysler quality issues, and they weren’t exactly good-lookers – but they satisfied the market demand far better and sooner than anything or anybody else.  If ever something defined The Advantage, it was the 1984 Chrysler minivan.

The Game-Changing Athlete – Randy Johnson (2002)

Randy Johnson in 2002 was the quintessential athletic secret weapon, the player who redefined any game he appeared in, the one whose mere presence demoralized the opposition and left them with a feeling of despair and hopelessness.  Standing an intimidating 6 feet, 10 inches tall, Johnson’s nickname was the Big Unit.  In a Hall of Fame career that saw him chalk up an amazing 303 victories, 2002 may have been his best season ever.  He won 24 games (a “20-game winner” is the benchmark for excellence, a rare feat these days) and struck out 334 batters in only 260 innings.  (More than one strikeout per inning is the mark of a true power pitcher.  This was way more than one per inning.) 


Randy Johnson.

Possessing one of the hardest fastballs in baseball history and being just wild enough that no one could be totally certain where his pitches would actually go, most of the opposition was afraid to even stand in the batter’s box and face him.  Some batters on other teams secretly hoped they would be benched the day they were scheduled to face Johnson, or they were simply happy to avoid getting hit by one of his pitches.

On the days that Johnson pitched in 2002, his Arizona Diamondbacks enjoyed an advantage over other teams rarely, if ever, matched in baseball history.

So it is in politics also.  The situation at hand – be it a catastrophic overseas event, an economic crisis, a domestic societal disturbance or something else – may seem to favor one party over the other and it looks as if the other party is going to be on the outs forever.  In that same vein, when one party or the other produces a seemingly “perfect” candidate, with just the right looks, the ideal ethnicity or gender, spouting just the right phraseology, it seems as though that party will never lose again.

However, if there is one thing that history teaches us over and over, it’s that the edge is always temporary, the advantage is fleeting.  Circumstances, whether they’re market conditions, military stances, or political alignments, are constantly shifting, and today’s paradigm-changer is often tomorrow’s relic.

Nonetheless, the Hustler of any given day is an impressive entity, regardless of what the future brings.

Everyone is always looking for the big advantage.  Whether it’s a military weapon that a country can use to threaten other countries with in order to get their way or some product or technological superiority that a company can use to favorably leverage its position in the marketplace or even a superstar athlete whose presence always tips the balance in favor of his team, everyone wants that special element that delivers the edge.

Here are some good examples from different walks of life.

The B-58 Hustler

During the height of the Cold War in the late ’50s and early ’60s, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were constantly vying for bragging rights with a never-ending string of new and impressive weapons.  New aircraft, submarines, and ICBMs came on line, one after another, as the two adversaries tried to gain the upper hand and show the rest of the world which country and – by direct implication – which system (communism versus capitalism) could produce the superior technological product.

Certainly, no new aircraft of that era was more impressive than America’s Convair B-58 Hustler.  The B-58 was a sinister-looking, futuristic, four-engined delta-winged bomber capable of amazing supersonic speeds that most fighter planes of its day couldn’t match.  It was designed to be fast enough to deliver a nuclear strike on the Russian homeland and then evade their defenses with its blinding speed.  The Hustler was so fast that it set several worldwide speed records in its day, many of which stood for decades.  (Several of these were set by Major Henry J. Deutschendorf, Sr., father of the noted pop-folk singer John Denver.)

Its presence was a shock to the world.  No one had anything like it, not even remotely.  The Russians’ medium bomber counterpart was the slow, obsolete TU-16 Badger, a plane that was as antiquated as the Sopwith Camel next to the sleek Hustler.


Convair B-58 Hustler.

The Hustler was very expensive to buy and operate; it had a terrible reliability record; and it proved to be a troublesome, dangerous plane to fly, with the unacceptably high accident and attrition rate of nearly 20%.  All these factors conspired to limit the Hustler’s operational career to barely a decade, from 1960 to 1970.  (In comparison, the B-52 bomber has just entered its 62nd year of continuous front-line service with one country, a record unmatched by any combat aircraft in history.)

Still, at the time of the Hustler’s appearance, the world stopped and gasped, while the Soviets frantically tried to match it with something of their own.

The Chrysler Minivan

It’s rare that an automotive product creates a brand-new, permanent category, but that’s exactly what the 1984 Chrysler minivans did.  Recognizing an unfulfilled need in the personal automotive market segment for an efficient, easy-to-drive vehicle that could transport a large family and their belongings to school, Little League practice, or vacation, Chrysler improvised upon their “K-car” chassis and came out with the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager minivans.


Chrysler Minivan.

With trim exterior dimensions and familiar carlike driving dynamics, the new minivans struck a chord with the buying public and were an immediate smash success.  All the other carmakers scrambled to come out with their own versions, but with constant upgrades and improvements, the Chryslers remained the market leaders for several more years.

They had more than their fair share of flaws – the first ones were seriously underpowered, they suffered from the notorious early-’80s Chrysler quality issues, and they weren’t exactly good-lookers – but they satisfied the market demand far better and sooner than anything or anybody else.  If ever something defined The Advantage, it was the 1984 Chrysler minivan.

The Game-Changing Athlete – Randy Johnson (2002)

Randy Johnson in 2002 was the quintessential athletic secret weapon, the player who redefined any game he appeared in, the one whose mere presence demoralized the opposition and left them with a feeling of despair and hopelessness.  Standing an intimidating 6 feet, 10 inches tall, Johnson’s nickname was the Big Unit.  In a Hall of Fame career that saw him chalk up an amazing 303 victories, 2002 may have been his best season ever.  He won 24 games (a “20-game winner” is the benchmark for excellence, a rare feat these days) and struck out 334 batters in only 260 innings.  (More than one strikeout per inning is the mark of a true power pitcher.  This was way more than one per inning.) 


Randy Johnson.

Possessing one of the hardest fastballs in baseball history and being just wild enough that no one could be totally certain where his pitches would actually go, most of the opposition was afraid to even stand in the batter’s box and face him.  Some batters on other teams secretly hoped they would be benched the day they were scheduled to face Johnson, or they were simply happy to avoid getting hit by one of his pitches.

On the days that Johnson pitched in 2002, his Arizona Diamondbacks enjoyed an advantage over other teams rarely, if ever, matched in baseball history.

So it is in politics also.  The situation at hand – be it a catastrophic overseas event, an economic crisis, a domestic societal disturbance or something else – may seem to favor one party over the other and it looks as if the other party is going to be on the outs forever.  In that same vein, when one party or the other produces a seemingly “perfect” candidate, with just the right looks, the ideal ethnicity or gender, spouting just the right phraseology, it seems as though that party will never lose again.

However, if there is one thing that history teaches us over and over, it’s that the edge is always temporary, the advantage is fleeting.  Circumstances, whether they’re market conditions, military stances, or political alignments, are constantly shifting, and today’s paradigm-changer is often tomorrow’s relic.

Nonetheless, the Hustler of any given day is an impressive entity, regardless of what the future brings.



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