Paul Greenberg

Week by week, this presidential race transmogrifies into a presidential schlep. Like the kind of Broadway show that never makes it to Broadway but is stuck in Philadelphia or maybe Poughkeepsie, where a new team of writers has been called in to save it, and the understudy and leading man keep changing places in hopes of something magic happening. It doesn't.

Meanwhile, Ron Paul is still backstage lurking. Like a little old man who runs a dusty antique shop in the middle of an otherwise busy block where the occasional visitor can see period pieces from the turn of the century -- the last century. Wind up the old music box in the window and hear populist themes circa 1898 -- the charms of isolationism, the beauty of the old gold standard, a medley of sentimental tributes to a perfect past that never was ... but business is always slow.

Politics and showbiz are not entirely dissimilar enterprises, which is why some of us gluttons for ennui find ourselves following every twist in this year's repetitive plot. Even as the theater grows emptier every performance. And all look forward to the highlight of the show: when the curtain falls. If it ever does.

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How restore the sense of elevation that great drama affords when the country is stuck with this weekly game of musical chairs? For that, we have to look not to our politicians but our poets, thinkers, fabulists. To a writer like C.S. Lewis, who left us this reliable standard, this sure guide to go by when judging the passing hurlyburly of politics, and maybe even rise above it:

"It is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects -- military, political, economic and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden -- that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time."

Maybe those simple words of C.S. Lewis's -- like all genius, simple -- will afford some perspective and even guidance as we go on to the next presidential primary and the one after that and the one ... till the tumult ceases and we are left with our own thoughts. And duties. And satisfactions. For it is the little things that may turn out to be the great ones, the lasting ones.


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.