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Politics amidst all the pollen

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By Rick Howell

Spring has sprung, as they say, and most of us are swimming through a veritable ocean of pollen. But it’s a small price to pay for lots of warm sunshine and the birth of new green grass.
    This time of year means baseball. Those of us who follow the Chicago Cubs can again feel hope that this just might be the year for a team that hasn’t won a World Series since 1908, and hasn’t played in one since 1945.
    That hope generally lasts until about mid-May or early June. But we’ll see…
    Those who think that I am in ceaseless agreement with every word that proceeds out of the mouth of Barack Obama would be wrong again. The president, who spent so much time in Chicago, likes the White Sox, not the Cubs. No one’s perfect, huh?
    In fact, I have to look to a conservative for baseball fellowship in the political world. Columnist George Will has written books on baseball and is a rabid Cubs fan.
    He wrote an excellent column to mark the start of baseball season that appeared in The Roanoke Times on April 1. He listed 43 baseball history questions, with the answers in tiny print at the bottom.
    I missed a lot of those questions, but here’s one I knew, number 23: “Was the only player to win the Cy Young Award after being traded at mid-season.” That was Rick Sutcliffe, and he played for that wonderful 1984 Cubs team.
    Anyway, if you like major league baseball, Google that column, titled “Batter Up!,” and you’ll enjoy it.
    Spring has also come to the presidential campaign, but what some smell is not new green grass, but electoral death. Newt Gingrich’s political career is surely over, and that can only be a good thing.
    Poor Newt. At the end, he was reduced to charging people $50 to have a photo taken with him. Then it was reported that one of his little think tanks had to file for bankruptcy. He won’t bother us again.
    Rick Santorum’s drive to become the Pope of a right-wing, “Christian America” also seems doomed. Even if he wins the Pennsylvania primary on April 24, which doesn’t seem likely, he has no realistic chance of beating Mitt Romney in the delegate count.
    Ron Paul has spent many months trying to convince his party that we, as a nation, ought to renounce empire, end wars, slash the military budget, and come back home. He’s right, but that was never going to be a winning message in a party that loves war and massive military budgets in equal measure.
    So, Mitt Romney will be the nominee. He’s a good and decent man, but you have to wonder how much of a soul he has left after he’s sold so much of it to be the leader of that crazed party.
    Religious rightists have a tough choice: the “evil socialism” of Barack Obama, or a candidate who’s a Mormon. Expect many of them to sit out the general election, and that’s fine with most other Americans.
    Romney is developing a penchant for blatant falsehoods. The political fact check Web site, “Poli-fact,” I believe it’s called, has given him a “pants on fire” rating for more than 30 separate statements.
    Just the other day, he said we were “inches from losing all our freedoms” under Barack Obama. The governor should refrain from such nonsense and instead present an intelligent alternative to the American voter.
    Given that he is likely to be the last GOP presidential nominee with a moderate background and possession of at least some common sense, he needs to behave that way.
    Gotta go…Cubs are playing. Happy Spring!!

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    Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.