Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Senator Ted

Before proceeding to today's real topic, I can't seem to shake the subject of athletics - women's athletics, in particular. Our local school has a woman who finished 2nd in the NCAA Division II hammer throw. Do I need to explain that the "hammer" in question here does not come from a hardware store? Good. I'll proceed. I've never actually seen her in action, though I have seen her picture, along with comments that she usually gives up 30-40 lb. to larger competitors, which I think must be true. This tells me two things. First, our local gal (who still has a shot at qualifying for the Olympic Trials) is probably inch for lb., one of the best throwers on earth AND it's time for descriptions of women athletes to include their weight, which seems to be one of the final frontiers to treating female athletes JUST as athletes and not some elusive feminine personna. For the curious, she LOOKS about 5'7" and 140 or so, just a little bigger than my HEAD. Hooray for Audrey!

In the US Senate, they try to show a little care for one another. It's a place where older people predominate, and the members, like many older folks, have been through some tough personal trials. It's not unusual to see Senate members engaged in some form of actual close contact, partly to increase influence and partly as a kind of silent token of good will. This happens even between senators who would not be natural political allies.
Once in awhile, it becomes known that a Senate member is seriously ill, and great sympathy is expressed, even to a senator from one corner of the political spectrum. It happened with the late Senator Hubert Humphrey, with Senator Barry Goldwater and with others, many times in days when the Senate seemed less polarized than now.
It should be happening now to Senator Ted Kennedy. Diagnosed last week with a serious brain cancer condition, Kennedy has served in the Senate since 1962, and, contrary to what you might think, is a popular figure there, with many good friends on both sides of the aisle. The Senate has been Ted Kennedy's public home, much more so than any other Kennedy family member.
Not only that , he has labored to try to make society's natural distribution of goods and services a little more equitable. That makes him a liberal, I guess, but he has been a go-to guy for pieces of legislation, cosponsoring with names representing the entire American political
spectrum. So many of them expressed shock over Kennedy's condition.
But we must remember that this is the age of polarization. Kennedy's face has helped raise billions of dollars - for Republicans, who shamelessly use him as a kind of anti-poster boy. Democrats have done the same thing, of course. But readers of my main on-line paper in the West cannot as yet get themselves to say many kind things about him. Some are shockingly mean, gloating over the incident almost 40 years ago in which a young Senate staffer was drowned, partly because of Kennedy's negligence. I guess it's understandable that while the public might not understand every nuance of what does and does not qualify as public corruption, they can and do grasp on to certain things with super tenacity no matter HOW Long ago something happened.
I think we look better when we can finally not so much overlook as remember, but then let it go publicly. There will always be time for retribution if we want it badly enough. How much better to stop, recognize, but then move on, knowing that He who always judges correctly will never let something really this big ever slip through the cracks.


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