Here's how Paul Simon wrote about pages falling from the calendar, oh so many sweet songs ago:
I was twenty-one years when I wrote this song
I'm twenty-two now, but I won't be for long--
Time hurries on, and the leaves that are green
have turned to brown...
There is a sadness, here at the edge of autumn. The peach-colored sunsets of July have dwindled down to the cold-steel azure of November. The birds that sang like a celebration in the heady days of June are gone, and only the sparrows and nuthatches huddle around the feeder. The days flicker, and burn out. The windows that were open to let in the sweet breeze of honeysuckle are now shut tight against the biting frost.
Oh, sure, soon the holidays will descend, like confetti at Times Square on New Years Eve. But even Christmas has a bitter-sweetness, now that my own sons want the latest electronic gizmo under the tree, rather than more Thomas the Tank Engine stuff. And this makes me drift quietly back to my own inglorious childhood, when all my brothers were home, and Mom's big gift to Dad was a leather-backed SX-70 camera. It was 1975.
And 1975 became 1985. Somehow, inexorably, 1985 became 1995, and then 2005. And now we stand at the threshold of another new decade.
Which is why politics is not sport; politics is not a game where the pieces move about effortlessly without consequence; it isn't polls and punditry, speeches and who's up, and who's down. Politics is the blood and bone of the real-life expression of how we want our lives to be lived. Freely? Under tyranny? More tax? Less Tax? Programs that claim "X", but deliver "Y"...
There is quite a bit of nattering that goes on about "election cycles". "The House hasn't seen so many Republican gains in the last few election cycles " goes the chatter. As if "cycles" were just dominoes falling, or clothes to be laundered, no big deal. In another "cycle " we can Get Obama .
"Cycles", though, are years , not accounting gimmickry.
And the years trundle by, one atop the other. Some smart-alecky octogenarian quipped about his aged life that "It seems like I'm making breakfast every fifteen minutes". When Obama finally does leave the White House in two years or six, the only thing we can be guaranteed is that two or six years will have gone by, nothing else. The moment that matters, therefore, is the one we're living right now , and the opportunity to fix the terribly broken public policy begins now . In a very real sense, we don't have two years, much less six.
Barack Obama made some nonesensical allusion to the "Audacity of Hope"-- but there is a far more staggering aphorism: "The Urgency of Now". --And all of our newly-minted Republican leaders need to embrace it.
Perspective is always important to illustrate a viewpoint. Lets do a little looking at the future through the rear-view mirror...
-Ten years ago, Barack Obama was 38, and gave cooking advice on Chicago public TV.
-Ten years ago, Mohammad Atta was taking flight training in Florida.
-Ten years ago, chads were dangling all over Florida.
-Ten years ago, total federal public debt was $5.3 trillion.
-Ten years ago, no one owned an I-Phone, or an I-Pod.
-Ten years ago, Johnny Carson was still alive, and so was Saddam Hussein.
-Ten years ago, Robert Gibbs was 29, and working for Fritz Hollings.
-Ten years ago, the debut of American Idol was still two years away.
-Ten years ago, you pretty much walked right on an airplane.
-Ten years ago, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a teacher in Tehran.
-Ten years ago, Sarah Palin was on the Wasilla, Alaska City Council.
-Ten years ago, Bill Clinton was finishing off his last two months in office.
-Ten years ago, a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $1.43.
-Ten years ago, the Dow Jones Average was at 11,340.
-Ten years ago, the price of gold was $273 per ounce.
-Ten years ago, Peter Fitzgerald, a Republican, was the Senator from Illinois
-Ten years ago, Taylor Swift was 11 years old.
-Ten years ago, Sean Hannity hosted only a local New York radio talk show.
-Ten years ago, Dan Rather was still on the air.
-Ten years ago, a typical health insurance premium was $169 per person per month.
-Ten years ago, Dick Gephardt was the Democratic Minority Leader.
-And finally, ten years ago, the civilian unemployment rate was 4.0%.
As you can see, ten years go by as quickly as the geese fly south for winter. The days, the weeks, the months, the years, add up without remorse. We must make these days count , we must act, and make our Representatives act, for our kids, and their kids. Ten years ago, the big book by Al Gore was "Earth in the Balance"; He spoke about the urgency with which we must tackle his illusory environmental causes de jour. Let's take his urgency, and turn it on it's head. Let's call it "America in the Balance"; and let's look back ten years from now, and say we did alright.