Paul Greenberg

Dear Conservative,

Yes, I know, these are times that try conservatives' souls. The sunshine soldiers left long ago, and we survivors are left to sit on the ground and tell sad stories of the death of our favorite theories. I get a lot of calls from patients like you, still in mourning after the presidential election. Here is Dr. Greenberg's Rx for the political blues:

Remember that the political pendulum swings back as surely as it did forth, this time after a long period when conservative ideas -- and candidates -- were in the ascendant.

It's that old Hegelian three-step: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. In short, things change. And isn't it a relief to be out of power for a change? You can almost feel the decompression.

Yes, we're still to blame for the economic tumult, the wars and threats of wars, all the troubles in the world ... but soon enough the grand disillusion with the next administration will set in on the usual fringes of American public opinion. It's already begun with the criticism of the president-elect's first appointments or even possible appointments.

Only weeks ago, some of these critics were his most fervent fans. Conspiracists may change their target; they remain conspiracists. Let's just do what we can to make sure we're not embarking on another eight-year hatefest, shall we?

That sort of thing grows tiresome. And repetitive. Only the name of the of the president changes. ("WASHINGTON -- A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist or fascist dictatorship...." --Newsmax, November 10, 2008.)

Oh, please. The election results of 2008 are but the mirror image of those of 1994, which were going to change everything, too. All that's happened is that the pendulum has just swung an equal but opposite distance. Remember the surest observation to make at every turn in human affairs: This, too, will pass.

Patience is the best prescription. But if that doesn't work right away, try an aspirin and don't call me in the morning. We political medics have more serious afflictions to tend to, like the hubris sure to affect the victors. Happens every time.

When this sense of depression, too, passes, and it will, just remember to avoid its equal but opposite delusion: euphoria. It's even more hallucinatory.

In the meantime, consider a sip -- only a sip, mind you, for medicinal purposes only -- of single malt in the evenings. Never drink alone or for consolation. Good whisky was made for celebrating with friends, not moping. Used for self-medication, it only prolongs the agony, and makes a man eloquent only to himself.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.