‘Help me’ – the lonely endorsement writer appeals for guidance


The flight of Congress to the hinterlands this month, to see whether what they have been told about the fiercely truculent mood of voters is true, coincides with the apex of the hurricane season. And, the forecast is a doozy. I mean the hurricane season. So far, the accuracy of the forecast is gravely in doubt. But, with weather as it is with politics, we’ll have to see.

Washington’s influence on the weather so far this summer has been hot and dry. Hot talk and dry holes —having in mind not the BP well but the yearning for a gusher of gratitude for the Democrats and the president and their combined legislative successes — have claimed the spring and summer for their own.

The president is visiting this week and next, and I’m sure he’s looking for more beneficent summer weather — warm but not too warm, cool but not rainy, relaxing but not numbing, with a chance that the meatballs in the national media won’t create a deluge of themselves.

Hurricane season will be what it will be, naturally enough, but what’s on the minds of the senators and congressmen and the president – warily praying for a few days of peace and respite, before returning to the nation’s Capitol in September before leaving again for the campaign trail – is us, the voters.

The Republicans are whistling up a cyclone. The Democrats are hoping for rain to control the national wildfires that voters are setting along that trail, or at least for a thick fog that might obscure their achievements, or lack thereof.

The kids will be going back to school in a couple of weeks; the politicians hope they are not going to the woodshed a few weeks later, but most regular folks just hope to make the most of the last of the maddest, merriest days of the summer. If the president would listen, we’d tell him to do the same.

Right now, no one cares about the upcoming elections. I exaggerate, of course. But apart from the national political correspondents, the politicians, and the campaign workers, all of whom have been on the campaign trail since November two years ago, the imminence of Election Day 2010 has not yet dawned on most of us.

With a bit more than two months to go till the voting, folks generally will begin to pay attention after the kids are back in school, when fall weather exhales a December chill, and when it’s dark every day at 7 instead of 9. Around here, that’s right after the bass derby. When the big November day arrives, some of them will even vote.

For me, there is work to do. The Times always publishes editorial endorsements in advance of elections — local, statewide, and national. It is my job to make the newspaper’s choices, so it is time to begin my research. As usual, I need some help, and I thought I’d ask you to step up.

Actually, I began the process a couple of weeks ago. I was sitting in the cockpit of a sailboat at anchor in a quiet spot not far from here, but worlds apart, if you get my meaning.

I was alone except for Teddy, the pug. Or, so I thought. He was lecturing me on politics. To my astonishment and dismay, an appalling terrier wearing a personal flotation device and yapping witlessly appeared treading water nearby. He was from a big power cruiser named Entitlement. The commotion had the hair up on the back of Teddy’s neck. If pugs had noses, Teddy would have looked archly down his at this aqua-brat.

Teddy, unaccustomed to such behavior, was making that burbling, cheek fluffing, semi-demi-bark noise he makes when he wants to express extreme disapproval but isn’t altogether sure it’s safe to do so.

Instead of “Ruff-ruff” Teddy says “Riff-raff.”

Teddy is a Republican. I know, I know, you are downcast, and I understand, but nevertheless, it is what it is. He is what he is, and he is descended from a long ago Mandarin family dynasty whose haughtiness perseveres ragingly in him. Sadly, we suspect he is disappointed even in us, who provide for him.

You may remember the correspondence between Teddy and the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee that I mentioned in this space years ago. Well, I had thought that the letters from Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY, were serendipitous, that they were probably intended for some human named Theodore something or other, but I was wrong.

Teddy is apparently in frequent touch with Republican leadership figures, offering advice and counsel as solicited, and he has deeply rooted political opinions. He is my chief counselor on these endorsements, and that is why I seek your balancing advice.

The behavior of the offending terrier set Teddy off. He left my arms and went galloping to the bow, “Riff-raffing” as he went. He must have concluded that the terrier was a boomer Democrat from Cambridge, although I saw no distinguishing characteristics. And the things Teddy had to say about this terrier would have curled your hair. Something about the terrier’s boring yapping, I suppose, convinced Teddy of its party affiliation.

I know that when you are responsible for editorial endorsements, as I am, you can’t rely on the views of just one blindly passionate mutt. You need the counsel of a variety of animals.

So I am making an appeal directly to readers for guidance. Are you a Republican, or a Democrat? A turbines-are-forever person, or a let’s-try-natural-gas type? Maybe you’re big on health care reform and damn the expense, or bank regulation and damn the banks, or higher taxes and damn the rich? Your counsel, your description of what attracts you to one side or the other, or to their political philosophies, will be welcome here. Write. E-mail. Fax. Tell me if you will permit publication of all or part of your comments.

A decision has to be made, and I have to make it. This is a cry for help.