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December 17, 2008

Time flies like an arrow

Kevin E. Dayhoff

As I’ve grown older, the joy of the Christmas season has slowly but surely become overshadowed with pressure and chaos. Certainly not to be overlooked is the emphasis on the materialism and over-consumption that has insidiously eroded the joys of the season.


A number of years ago, I got to the point that I began looking forward to the holiday season with dread.


However, perhaps it is a component of advanced age that has taught me in more recent years to say “no” and avoid getting caught-up in the superficiality of feigned frivolity.


This year the holiday season could not have come soon enough. I have become the poster boy for “breaking news” fatigue.


Therefore, it is at this point that I feel the need to call to the attention of the professional practitioners of perpetual outrage that the long-term effects of reading the balance of this column remain uncertain. Please proceed at your own risk.


Maybe it is the existentialist in me that has allowed me to become weary of the daily pettiness on parade that is symptomatic of the casual cynicism that nowadays passes for political realism.


I’m certainly tired of reliving the worst 20 minutes of the life of some stranger who is in reality dumber than a mud fence, and casually, completely amoral – and for whom I really don’t care about anyway.


If I take a break for the holiday season and miss-out on writing about the latest political outrage, I have lived long enough to understand that another scandal will come along soon enough to take its place.


Writing about politics and economics is tantamount to full-employment for a columnist. It’s like a never-ending soap opera of kindergarten proportions. If you miss several weeks of episodes, you can easily pick-up on the plot later.


My current ennui and state of being overwhelmingly bored with local, state, and national politics really began several months ago.


By the time the longest presidential election in American history was over, the historian in me began to take over. A lifelong study of American political and economic history allows me to understand that “this too shall pass.”


That the nation would somehow survive in spite of whoever sat in the Oval Office or whatever was to become of the economy.


I understand that my current bud of calm is merely anger without enthusiasm; and I can only imagine it will blossom into unbridled hysteria later.


I suspect that it may occur after the inauguration of our next president, and the next session of the Maryland General Assembly and the U.S. Congress convenes.


Until then my advanced age readily and easily understands that extended commentary over what President-elect Barack Obama, the Maryland General Assembly or the next session of the U.S. Congress will or will not do is to engage in the fantasy of surgical preemption.


For now, I have adopted the attitude of what someone wiser than me explained: “Today is a day to congratulate the other side and join in the celebration. The people have spoken. A new day dawns. Be of good cheer. We shall have plenty of time to discuss the policy side of politics.”


It is obvious to me that we should take advantage of the holidays and rest up.


We should all simply relax and drink whatever flavor of Kool-Aid is offered to us. The Democrats won the presidential election, control both houses of Congress, and now it's time to let the soothing waters of the most leftwing era national government and leftist ideology cleanse us of our ignoble ignorance.


For a columnist – and an historian – I completely understand that I can be the nail that sticks out and gets hammered; or I can be the hammer. For now, I’m neither. I’m the one on an extended coffee break for the holidays.


It is at times like this that I take comfort in the words of the economist John Kenneth Galbraith who once said: “One of my greatest pleasures in writing has come from the thought that perhaps my work might annoy someone of comfortably pretentious position. Then comes the saddening realization that such people rarely read.”


Henry David Thoreau is credited with saying: “None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.” Right now – when it comes to politics, I’m really old.


There will be a time and place in the near future for robust dialogue, debate and discussion. For now, enjoy your family, go to a Christmas party, decorate a tree, and break out the good cheer. Life is short. Enjoy the ride. Time is of the essence.


After all, it was Groucho Marx who observed, “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” Right now, I like eggnog, Christmas music and the company of my wife.


Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at:


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