I find Cook to be a complex character. He appears intelligent and articulate, perhaps a bit arrogant on occasion, smug even, but he also seems genuine and kind. I can’t help but but admire and appreciate the obviously protective role he has adopted with Archie and, in all honesty, I can’t think of a better arrangement or maybe even a better individual for the job. These are both bright, talented, compassionate guys and I should think they have a great deal in common. It’s amusing to think of how they were probably eying each other just a little suspiciously at the beginning, not from a competitive standpoint per sé, but just the way guys do, and that now they have a personal and professional intimacy that no doubt enriches them both immensely.
The most interesting thing, I think, is how this relationship would have differed–perhaps fundamentally–had the place finishes been reversed. Cook has an ego. That’s not a bad thing. But I wonder if his enormous generosity and affection for Archie would have had quite the same tenor if Cook had come in second.
I went on record nearly two weeks ago with my assertion that runner-up would be a far more beneficial status to Archie, but as I’ve watched the post-finale dynamics I realize how limited the scope of my vision was in the matter. I had not anticipated the range of advantages which are now accruing to him precisely because he did not win. The press, for example, now has license to praise him, to like him, even to root for him. Had he proved the inevitability he was anointed to be, the press would have performed their duty to report it and moved on–most likely to Cook. But there’s nothing the press likes more than an upset–unless it’s an underdog. Archie has never been in that choice position before and it is already doing him enormous favors from a public-relations standpoint.
I suppose I could have seen that coming, but what I never would have predicted was how much of an advantage having someone like David Cook was going to be in Archie’s ability to embrace his role as a public figure and handle the media. All of us who have been so fixated on his journey know that Archie is a sponge, a relentless observer and learner (I had to smile when he caught that shaving foam; flaky people whose minds wander can’t do those sorts of things) who needs more than anything to have role models in the dimensions of life where he is not prodigious. For who Archie is, what he needs, and what is best for him personally and professionally, this is not the consolation prize. This is the best of all possible worlds.