Paul Greenberg

As for those who manage to climb to the very top of the greasy presidential pole, they may find the job isn't quite as simple as they'd painted it. Hope isn't easy to keep alive, at least not on the massive scale a presidential candidate must. And as for change, it isn't always for the better.

The stubborn unemployment rate that refuses to subside, a national debt that grows from alarming to crushing, a Great Recession that won't go away. No wonder there's a sense of that old devil Malaise in the air. Again the word stagflation is heard in the land, and some of the leftier economists say a little inflation (which has a way of becoming a lot) would be a fine thing. As in the Carter years? Please.

Where's perspective when you need it? Or a candidate who can promise us a New Beginning with a Reaganesque smile, and, more impressive, deliver it?

Only a brave few are born to be happy warriors in politics. Others grow grumpy behind their artificial cheer. Oh, the strain of maintaining all those smiles! It can't be good for the mental health, being called on to fake authenticity every moment on the campaign trail.

Something tells me there's going to be a lot of partisan huffery-and-puffery going around, like any other infectious disease, before this presidential campaign is mercifully concluded. The tendency to rationalize may be universal among humans. Regardless of race, creed, color, national origin or political party. Maybe it comes with being a member of the species risibly called Homo sapiens. But 'tis the season for buck-passing and blame-shifting. A season that may only have just begun, even if it already seems old.

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.