The sun came out today. Really. I took it as a sign of hope amidst a time of often overbearing gloom and doom. There has to be something to look forward to beyond the bad news of the day. When you think about it, Midwesterners who live with much-too-long stretches of drab, gray, cold, slushy, snowy, winter have had to deal with double, triple, and quadruple whammies this year.
In our season of scarce sunshine we've had to contend with scenarios even more depressing than the weather. We're on the brink of war, with or without the consent and cooperation of the rest of the world. We've added to the considerable tension between allies when we should be strengthening bonds. And the President's pre-emptive military precedent to enact his prescribed changes for global rascals threatens to bring a heap of terrorist trouble to American shores.
We're on fluctuating terrorism alerts. One minute Tom Ridge is giving folks a modern day version of duck and cover with duct tape and plastic sheeting. The next moment Americans are being encouraged to exhale and act normal because the threat of terrorist attack has eased a level, from orange to yellow.
In the meantime, national insecurity expands with every new military incursion into places - the Philippines, Columbia, Korea, Afghanistan, the Balkans, the Persian Gulf - that effectively pour more fuel into regional fires.
The impending war and the government's deteriorating fiscal situation - it has run up a deficit of $97.6 billion in the first four months of the 2003 budget - have worked well to keep Wall Street in the dumper. How low can your portfolio go? The President's brilliant economic solution of permanent tax cuts and dividend tax relief for the rich loses supporters with every new prediction of record-high budget deficits for this year and next. And forget about seeing the U.S.A. in your SUV as gasoline prices inch ever skyward before the U.S. invades a key oil producer in the Middle East.
There has to be something positive on the horizon but it's not in the possible presidential campaigns of politicians angling for audiences and airtime in the frozen Iowa tundra. You need a score card to keep track of all the silly Democrats lining up to run for President in 2004, but don't bother. Not a one could take the country by storm. Some are ridiculous, like former scandal-plagued Illinois Sen. Carol Mosely-Braun, former Tawana Brawley fraud enabler Al Sharpton, and former Cleveland mayor from the dark days of default Congressman Dennis Kucinich. The alleged Democratic frontrunner, former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, a likable enough south St. Louis pol with staying power, couldn't lead his own party, let alone the country.
Speaking of leaders not leading, Ohioans need look no further than their own homegrown variety. Gov. Bob Taft obviously doesn't have what it takes to rein in the conservative demagogues from southern Ohio holding progress hostage in the state. The Republican-led legislature rules, and the sputtering chief executive acquiesces. The dysfunctional relationship is causing lasting damage to the legacy of a once-proud state. Once cutting-edge reputations in a variety of research and development fields have slipped from honorable mentions to not even in the ballgame.
But striking out may come with a silver lining. Think spring training, Winter Haven, and the other team up to bat. Suddenly the relentless snow and the relentless talk of war are put in perspective. There is light at the end of our sunless, somber days. In our dreams the boys of summer are sprinting around the bases in wonderfully warm climes, dazzling diehard fans and making believers out of even longtime Cleveland Indian sufferers.
Today the Tribe is tied for first. Tomorrow the team could see a ticker-tape parade the likes of which Cleveland has never known. Hey, just around the corner, when we get past the snow plows and salt trucks, you know what springs eternal. There has to be something to look forward to as cars slide and warships glide into place. Sure, Opening Day could lose its luster to Opening Volley in Iraq, but at least we can hope the latter doesn't make the roster and the sun shines on strikeouts and series contenders.
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