Columnists should not write about politics. Take it from me, it's a bad idea. You pick up your bright sword to harass the heathen Republican and your prose style goes limp, your verbs droop, and words such as "comprehensive" and "funding" creep in and you become thin-lipped and hissy, like Miss Whipple in study hall telling the boys in the back of the room to shape up or be sorry. Well, they aren't going to shape up. What will shape them up is the day of reckoning and it's not here yet.
It's spring in Minnesota, the snow is gone except behind the garage, so it's time to turn over a new leaf and let other people rag on the president. He is who he is, and anybody who hasn't formed an opinion of him is not paying attention. I am going to sit and read poetry and wait for the enormous old crabapple tree beside our driveway to bud and then blossom, a mass of brilliant purplish flowers like a Mardi Gras float parked beside the house -- you can almost hear the brass band playing "Just a Little While to Stay Here." Or maybe it's a funeral and the purple flowers are from the deceased's old pals who are shuffling along beside the coffin, hankies in hand, on their way to the graveyard and then to O'Gara's for a commemorative bump of whiskey. You can get all this just by looking at a crabapple tree. Visions of the vast grandeur of the sensuous world, intimations of mortality.
What vast grandeur do you find in Washington these days? The Abramoff-DeLay saga is the story of weasels. Small-time grifters and flimflam men wheedling favors and skimming money off the top. Nobody in the Republican majority could be shocked by any of this, so why should you and I?
The people who are getting reamed by this administration are people under 30, and they are, like, OK with that. They walk around with little wires coming out of their ears and 10,000 tunes on their iPods, and if you go, like, Global Warming, they are, like, Whatever. And you go, Government Deficit, and they are, like, Duuuuuuuuuuuude.
Our country has been entered into a 30-year war against Islam, and I will not be fighting it. I am, like, 63. In fact, I am not only like 63, I am 63 and will soon be 64 when I hope you will still need me and feed me. I am sitting pretty. If the polar icecap melts, it's no problem in Minnesota: The ocean isn't going to wash up on our doorsteps. No hurricanes on our horizon. None of my friends are penguins. If Iran gets the bomb, are they going to fly all the way to Minnesota to drop it?
Politics is a slough, and maybe we should let the weasels have it for now. Even if two more Republicans follow the Current Occupant into office, this country will still be around in some form or other. Cities may crumble and we may be forced to reside in walled compounds and hire security men to escort us to Wal-Mart and back, but much will remain, such as love, for example, and the quickening one feels in the spring. Flowers will bloom in whatever wreckage we make. Somewhere, someone will sing the old songs about love walking in and driving the shadows away.
People have been falling in love through every dismal era of history and through every war ever fought. Enormous black headlines in the newspapers and agitated talk in the cafes and yet she waited for him on the corner by the hotel where they had agreed to meet, and as traffic streamed past she watched the buses pulling up to the curb, looking for his familiar shape, his beautiful face, his slight smile. Under her arm, a newspaper, and inside it a columnist shaking his tiny fist at corruption, but it isn't worth two cents compared to what's in her heart. When her lover steps down, the air will be filled with bright purple blossoms and they will embrace and turn and go into the hotel, and on this, the future of the world depends.
Take the day off, dear reader, and ignore the world and let the president play his fiddle. Find the one who means the most to you and make yourselves happy. If that be ignorance, make the most of it.
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(Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country.)
(c) 2006 by Garrison Keillor. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, INC.