I’m cured

May 6, 2015 at 3:17 pm
I’m cured

Gentle reader, this is my last column. It’s time to pack up my adjectives and ride off into the warm, orange-red, beguiling, psychedelic-yet-tranquil sunset.

When I started writing for LEO a decade ago, our nation was at the nadir of the calamitous era known to historians as “The Bush/Cheney Americlusterfuck.” As a rational human being with socialist political leanings and fiscally responsible atheism, I was naturally appalled at where our leaders were taking us.

When madmen in one country attacked us, we invaded another country. When military spending crippled our economy, we gave tax breaks to the rich. When global climate change became impossible to ignore, we doubled down on Hummers. We labeled our goriest quagmire “Mission Accomplished.” When we desperately needed Hume and Rousseau we got Osteen and Haggard.

It’s one thing to take issue with political leaders who hold views you disagree with. But Bush and Cheney were somehow managing to do everything exactly wrong. It was impossible to be more wrong. Every day. It drove me what mental health professionals call “nuts.”

As a coping mechanism, I began to write about it. Writing helped me resolve the conflict between the observable world with its obvious problems and the completely unrelated problems the administration was trying – and succeeding – to make worse. Only by whining about the issues could I find inner peace.

My first LEO editor, Cary Stemle, was kind enough to give me space to get the therapy I so desperately needed, 750 words at a time, every two weeks. Other talented and caring editors supported my op/ed rehab over the years and I am grateful to them all, including Elizabeth Kramer, Stephen George, Sarah Kelley, Sara Havens and Laura Snyder. They are all talented journalists and fine human beings.

(I highly recommend writing therapy, by the way, no matter what is troubling you. Whether you’re agonizing over current affairs or your sportsball team’s problems or the way your masturbation addiction is cutting into your video-game time, writing forces you to organize your thinking in a way that is both enlightening and therapeutic. Just beware: Nobody wants to read your first drafts.)

I would also like to point out that my column’s name is a misnomer. Reader Pat Bush suggested the name, which is a clever play on Shakespeare’s (and Steinbeck’s) “winter of our discontent.” But other than my uncanny ability to see exactly what’s wrong with politics and society, I am blissfully contented. I have a happy marriage, two perfect kids, a job I love and a pair of comfortable dress shoes. I’ve never been personally disgruntled – I just want our society to be better and fairer and less killy. As they say on bumper stickers, “if you want peace, whine for justice.”

And once we got a grownup in the Oval Office, things got so much better. At least I didn’t have to bang my head against the wall every time the president opened his mouth. Then, somewhere along the way, I began to lose interest in politics. Maybe I’ve mellowed with age. Maybe a decade of wisecracking in print has gotten it out of my system (and hasn’t made Mitch McConnell any less disturbing anyway). I have zero interest in the 2016 presidential race and when I reach the end of this sentence it is my fervent hope that I will never again write the word “Frankfort.”

When I started at LEO I wanted everyone to be a Redistributive-Dionysian, born-again hedonist like me. I also wondered if my political views would shift like my sister’s dad’s did, from Marxism to Reaganomics, but that hasn’t happened. My views haven’t changed but I no longer feel the need to foist them on you. I think that means I’m cured.

And after all these years, it’s hard to come up with another column about Derby, Thunder, Christmas, basketball, quantum mechanics, Axe Body Spray, institutional racism, meth, Plutarch, marriage equality, guns, the Venerable Bede, Hurstbourne Lane, the achievement gap, the economic divide, Kanye, tantric pho, English majors, poop or Rand Paul. It’s time to enjoy consuming news and culture without the little devil on my shoulder urging me to make up smartass remarks about everything I see. It’s time to have some unexpressed thoughts.

And so I am cured. It has been a thrill and a privilege to write this column and to hear from so many of you. You people are so nice. Hugs and high fives to you all and thanks for reading.