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The madness of spring (and politics)

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By Rick Howell

Don?t hold the presses just yet, but it looks like we have actually achieved spring.

With that comes a certain madness, the kind that makes some people think it?s July already. Modes of dress (especially among the young) are starting to become shorter and more ?summery,? if there?s such a word. Yet the colds that many people still have should refer them back to the calendar.

This applies to nature, too, not just people. Outside my residence, two bushes that had been sporting a glorious yellow blooming are now giving way to their green leaves. The huge oak tree in my neighbor?s yard (and I do mean huge; the limbs extend from her backyard to my driveway, where they lean very close to my car) is getting its leaves. They still look vulnerable at the moment; but they?re growing bigger, and seemingly more confident every day.

My cat, who loves hot weather, is spending more and more time outside. I tell my son that the cat goes on ?squirrel patrol? and ?bird patrol,? efforts that don?t seem to result in any actual capture of either target. Yet that doesn?t phase his earnest approach to the matter.

Spring is always nice, but it?s hard to act as though we?re tired of a ?long winter? when we never have any such thing anymore. One lousy little snow of about three inches was all I saw outside my dwelling. It was not, as they say, anything to write home to mother about. (Don?t worry, our conservative brethren have assured us that it has nothing to do with ?global warming,? a guarantee brought to you by the same people who thought we?d be in Iraq for just a few weeks?.)

The coming of spring on the calendar, and in the actual weather, has arrived along with what can only be called the ?silly season? in politics. Lately, we?ve heard more about some preacher named Jeremiah Wright and the word ?bitter? than we will probably ever hear about actual issues.

We heard, too, about Hillary Clinton?s death-defying visit to Bosnia a few years back, only to see footage from the event that showed it to be anything but scary or dangerous.

But, like spring every year, we should surely expect this kind of nonsense from the mainstream media in a presidential election. Far from promoting ?liberal? candidates, the media demonstrates again that it mostly cares about the ?horse race? of political contests (who?s ahead in polls), and the semi-regular diversion of such things as Obama?s preacher or Hillary?s beer and a shot in Pennsylvania.

Campaigns go on too long, and there?s way too much money spent on them in the process. Media coverage, if it was done right, should educate the public on the candidates and the issues. But, like the weather, what we get is not always what we want or what we need.

One other thing about the spring?.my Chicago Cubs are playing winning baseball again. And if I have to choose between that and most media coverage of politics, I?ll take a Cubs game any day.

Enjoy the weather, before it gets blistering hot.

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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, is a member of the Roanoke City Democratic Committee, and can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.