Yes, I realize that as a fan of Tiger Woods, the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Lakers, I should have been in a foul mood this morning. The Nationals blew a lead last night against the rival Braves with yet another shoddy relief pitching performance; no fan likes to see the Achilles heel of an otherwise wonderful team continue to flare up. And speaking of Achilles heels, the only thing more depressing that the torn Achilles suffered by Kobe Bryant was the fact that it was presumably preventable – the Lakers simpleton coach kept playing his veteran guard 45+ minutes night after night after night. That’s what I call a season-ending injury waiting to happen, though in Kobe’s case it might turn out to end not just his season but also his career as we know it. You never like to see that happen to any superstar. As for an athlete who is even a greater star than Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods looked like he was set to win another Masters when his wedge on the 15th hole took a fluky hop off the flagstick, rolled into the water, and, two penalty strokes later, a birdy four turned into a triple-bogey eight. He’s still not out of the tournament, but now he’s going to have to do what’s he has never done at a major and that is come from behind on the last day. Not likely.
This morning, I received condolence calls from friends about the “Freaky Friday” in sports. But for some reason, it didn’t get me down as much as I might have thought. I was buoyed by the recent developments to hit my city. First, we finally are seeing nice, warm weather, not to mention cherry blossoms. And second, we finally are seeing Senators reach across the aisle and craft bi-partisan bills – bills that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-led House. Talk about retro.
I know what the cynics are saying about the recent developments on Capitol Hill. Immigration reform is a joke, they say, for the Republicans are only supporting it out of necessity, given recent demographic trends. As for the gun control legislation that is being debated, it is easy to criticize the bill as a half-measure that does nothing to stop the most obvious problem revealed by the Newtown tragedy – the scourge of assault weapons and large magazines, which as long as they are legal will inevitably get into the hands of mentally ill people. Further, the cynics will remind us that we still don’t have any signs of progress on budgetary issues, and more and more federal employees and contractors are bound to lose their jobs altogether or at least lose pay in the form of furloughs. In fact, it is a popular statement in my town these days to suggest that sooner or later, Obama will cave into the demands of the anti-government crowd, and the Republicans will have the post-election victory after all, just a few months late.
Sometimes, my friends, I have no trouble joining the cynics. Especially when it comes to Washington, there is often plenty to be cynical about. But now that spring has sprung after a long and cold winter, can we not take a moment to rejoice in what we are seeing for the first time in eons: genuine bi-partisanship? Republicans and Democrats are actually working together in opposition to the NRA. Yes, the bill at issue (which would require background checks for gun show and Internet purchases) is supported by nearly every American who lives above ground, but it is NOT supported by the NRA, and for that reason alone, bi-partisan efforts on behalf of the bill are not to be sneezed at. Nor should we scoff at the progress that is being made on the immigration front. As with the gay marriage issue, our politicians were clearly leading from behind on this issue, but they are finally seeing the light. And given the importance of this issue, let’s at least celebrate that fact.
My hope is that we are seeing the beginning of an effort on the part of moderate Senators and Representatives to become relevant again. In recent years, their workplace has purely been a venue for stonewalling and polarization. Now that we are witnessing multiple opportunities for legitimate deal-making in support of positive, moderate legislation, I can’t help but believe that this will become contagious.
Think about it – whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, if you were elected to serve in Washington, wouldn’t you want to say “Yes” every now and then instead of always saying “Hell No!” My guess is that the spring that we are experiencing in the Tidal Basin, and in the realms of gun control and immigration legislation, will provide a nice source of temptations to all but the most nefarious politicians. Instead of taking a walk in the park, they might want to consider taking a walk across the aisle. Who knows what small piece of sanity they might find there?