Sunday, January 28, 2007

Can't You Smell That Smell?

It was a far-flung weekend, full of tight schedules, multiple cities and a handful of excess. First and foremost I would like to congratulate a true Qrowned Prince of the Quabbin on his continued rise to greatness, this time on the indoor track. I was able to cool down with Owen, once again darting among unsuspecting pedestrians on Commonwealth Avenue, although this time with a pounding headache courtesy of a night spent alongside the Ace. For an old has-been it was like indoor track fantasy camp on that cooldown minus the trading card.

The best antedote for a frenetic Friday and Saturday, I figured, was a nice, long run down to the shores of the Quabbin. Given the relative lack of fitness under my belt during these past few months, it was the first time I was able to make it all the way down to the end of the Gate 8 Road. Unlike my sunkist front yard the gritty Quabbin path still had a majority of snow cover, even at a lower altitude. I trekked down the way, leaving evenly paced footprints behind as I ran alongside closed gates to my left and raced the flow of a snowy creek to my right. I was rewarded at 35:39 with a wide-open Reservoir in front of me. Serenity holds such a tight grip on the lake that the mere shuffling of my feet as I slowed to a stop scattered an entire flock of ducks, floating casually on the shore 100 yards away, off toward Prescott Peninsula. The trees came straight down to shoreline, the green of the needles becoming the brown of bark becoming the slate gray of rock and the cool blue of water.

O Quabbin, my Puget Sound away from home!

Back on the Presidential trail, where things aren't always as calm as they are in Quabbin Qountry, the wheels kept moving forward. Obama got some good press in the Times, while Hillary got some bad press in New York and Washington. Frank Rich, that old sailor, really takes Hilly to task on her Iraq turn, and rightly so.

"Mrs. Clinton has always been a follower of public opinion on the war, not a leader," Rich says, "Now events are outrunning her. Support for the war both in the polls and among Republicans in Congress is plummeting faster than she can recalibrate her rhetoric."

Broder, meanwhile, takes offense to her political speech at the recent Patraeus hearing in the Senate where Hillary asks but one question, followed by a four word response, to the new commander of US forces in Iraq. When both the liberal lion and the elder statesman, respectively, are mocking you this early on it can't be a good sign.

I have made it perfectly clear that here in Quabbin Qountry we seek genuineness, and that we are big fans of Mr. Rich's work. When he essentially calls the Hill Bus(c)h Lite for her scripted town hall meetings and softball questions, it hits hard. I bore witness to some of those scripted Bush rallies back in the Rockies and I am still recovering from the affront on my soul that was a bunch of blank-eyed supporters cheering at the appropriate money lines. It is true that now more than ever we need someone "for realz" in the oval office. Allow me to recount a story I heard recently, courtesy of future-star Oz Hazel:

"Back in the day there was a question about who the republicans wouldnominate for the presidency, Lincoln or Douglas. Lincoln knew that Douglas supported slavery and that he argued the Constitution required the states to continue to allow the trade of men. Lincoln, not having much experience or expertise, went to the library and studied the constitution and other texts for several days prior to the Republican convention. At theconvention he stood up and gave a TWO hour speech about why he believed thatthe framers did not intend slavery to continue forever. At the conclusionof his speech the delegates voted unanimously for Lincoln to be the nominee."

Would that it were that Iraq was as clear-cut an issue as slavery! Alas, what I truly fear is not that any one candidate can give a comprehensive and heart-felt speech on a given topic but whether or not the American public still has it in them, after all the spin and all the advertising dollars, to smell the smell of genuine. It is a beautiful smell, but elusive. Not like pine trees or apple pie, genuine drifts past one's nose like a mosquito escaping two clapped hands. Those who are impostrous are the hardest to pin down, and are usually fat with a stomach full of fresh blood. But what keeps us coming back to the Quabbin is the real scent, the real scene of peninsulas jutting down on to glassy water, and the stillness of the dusk air. Can we find it in 2008?

De Ranke XX,


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