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Heed the Call

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

What follows will be considered nothing less than heresy by other children of the '60s (who are now IN our 60s), but the irony is too perfect to ignore.

The poet laureate of our generation was a guy named Robert Allen Zimmerman, better known to some as Bob Dylan.


Of all the poems he set to music, one of my favorites was "The Times They are a'Changin'" which was a plea to "mothers and fathers," "writers and critics," and "Congressman, Senators" to (in the latter group) "please heed the call."

Ok. You remember the song and, if you are of a certain age, you will now walk around for the rest of the day with the tune bouncing off synapses unused for the nearly five decades since you might have listened to someone playing it on their Martin nylon string guitar sitting on the floor of the TKE house at Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio 45750.

Or, some variant on that theme.

Here's the headline on the Washington Post's web page about their new poll: Majority Favors GOP Control of Congress

The explanatory graf reads:

"A new Washington Post/ABC poll found those most likely to vote in the midterms prefer the GOP over continued Democratic rule by a sizable margin of 56 percent to 41 percent."

Calling a 15 percentage point chasm a "sizeable margin" is like calling the Deepwater Horizon spill an "oil leak."

There's more bad news for Democrats. According Dan Balz' and Jon Cohen's analysis of that poll:

"Public confidence in President Obama has hit a new low … nearly six in 10 voters say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country."

But, before RNC Chairman Michael Steele begins singing the Ren & Stimpy "Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy" song and declaring himself "Speaker-in-Waiting," the poll indicates voters don't trust almost anyone currently in public office to solve almost any of our problems.


On what is called the "re-elect" question ("Are you more inclined to re-elect your Representative or more inclined to look around for someone else") among registered voters the result is:

26 percent re-elect
62 percent look around

If these numbers are correct, then the Tea Party Movement, which manifested itself like a category 5 hurricane last August, has had far more effect on the public's thinking than many columnists and commentators would like to believe.

Almost nothing is going right:

Unemployment is stuck in the mid-nine-percent range;

Oil has gushed out of the sea floor for nearly three months;

Obama himself has pushed Immigration to the front burner (and then turned that burner to "high") as a problem without a solution;

People are frightened about economic news they can't even understand (Oh, no! Credit Default Swaps for Greek Sovereign Debt are on the rise!);

Afghanistan is seen as a necessary, but never-ending, war;

and on and on.

The danger to the nation is not whether Republicans or Democrats control the House or Senate (or both); nor is it whether Obama wins a second term. The danger to the Republic is we have lost confidence in our political institutions to solve anything.

In spite of the amount of time and effort which has been expended by the White House and Congress on a financial overhaul bill, it has so little impact on real life that even the Washington Post consigned the story that there are now probably enough votes in the Senate for passage to page 9.


Page one included a story about a New Jersey man who is one of the 1.4 million Americans who have been out of work for at least 99 weeks.

That is what is at the base of American uncertainty: We all live with the fearful knowledge that we are but one phone call to "drop by the boss' office next Friday afternoon" away from joining the ranks of the unemployed.

The stanza about Senators and Congressmen ends with these lines: There's a battle outside and it's ragin'; It will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls;

For the times, they are a'changin.

They would all do well to heed the call.

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