© 2008 Karl Meyer

American Pastime

On this February morning there was drama in the United States Congress. Two powerful men thought to have deceived the American people for most of a decade were answering questions. There were references to wire tapping and intimidation to keep crimes hidden. Personal information had been leaked to impugn credibility. The story was riveting: hubris, bedroom secrets; the let down of the next generation of kids.

It was a story of power and ego; lots of money involved. One party rallied around the powerful man as a god. The other assaulted his testimony as if they were bringing down the Bastille. Hushed talk began circulating of a presidential pardon. This was terrific theatre, but hardly of a high order—sports-entertainment and drugs, the stuff America invests its soul in. The testimony of a baseball player and his trainer rang out in homes across the country.

But as the time of spring training neared my fantasies went way beyond baseball. I dreamt Congress was sending blistering line drives and punishing grounders at the two highest officers of the land—hard ball questions that offered no cover. Stand and catch the ball, or let it go by–on a level playing field, in full view of the American people. Whack: what about weapons of mass destruction? Whack: what about leaked names? Bang: what about soldiers, civilians, sacrificed? Bam: what about water boarding–what about the country’s soul, Sir?

The day’s baseball drama WAS riveting. He said–he said; he said that she said. What did he say; when did he say it? Patriotism, hard work, respect for rules, were all used to mask the ominous and building backdrop of wrong-doing. The big guy said he could not be a bad guy. It was a miss-understanding. Words were miss-spoke, miss-heard. He was a leader, in control—a decider. Something foul occurred on his watch. He’d moved swiftly to get a handle on it. Now jealous people and the media had turned on him. His reputation was at stake. His legacy. He wanted his soul back. He stood pleading before a soul-less Congress. Expectant.

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