May 2nd, 2010 20:50 EST
Why are The Politicians Behaving Like Juvenile Delinquents?
The knock on Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees third baseman who earns about $27 million a year and more than $100 million worth of endorsement contracts, is that he occasionally indulges in bush-league behavior.
Compared to our terminally adolescent politicians A-Rod is a nobleman. And he`s a pleasure to watch, which you definitely can`t say of Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner or Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid. It would be unimaginable for A-Rod to walk off the field and refuse to play because he didn`t like the way the other team was playing, and yet that is exactly what is happening in Washington.
Why can`t the professional liars who run our affairs play as fairly and graciously as Derek Jeter or Tino Martinez and oh-so-many other memorable players? Have you watched Derek chat up the opposite infield as he runs the bases? Did you see the Yankee fans salute Hideki Matsui for his past services even though he was on the opposing team?
I`d rather watch a great hitter or pitcher pumped on steroids than another politician pumped up on hypocrisy and greed.
Baseball is the great American game. One would think the politicians could play their game with similar elegance. Baseball is fun to watch because it has a balletic quality, a kind of mathematical logic. Politics is ugly to watch because the politicians, even the handsome and beautiful ones, are ugly and mean. They offend Americans` sense of decency and respect for others. And to the extent that the media presents politics as a disgraceful brawl the media offend us, too.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Carolyn Kizer once said politics in poetry is so fierce because the stakes are so low. What`s the politicians` excuse? Our politics is so low and dirty because the stakes are very high, obscenely high. The possibilities for corruption are enormous. Consider this: in all the foofaraw about the housing bubble and those lethal derivatives why has there been no discussion of the way developers across the country corrupt local government into granting them privileges and opportunities that betray the public interest? Did we really need all those McMansions, all those variances and exceptions, all that eminent domain and housing stock we can`t afford? Do we really need to despoil the countryside with unsustainable suburbs? Where is the debate about that?
And yet the stakes are very high in baseball, too. A-Rod`s salary makes you weep when you think of what Joe DiMaggio and Jackie Robinson played for. But the game is still played as if common decency counts. Indeed a pitcher chewed A-Rod out the other day for trotting across the pitcher`s rubber. He took it as a diss, whereas our daily feed of politics in Washington is a constant diss. Trotting on the pitcher`s turf is peanuts compared to what the oafs in Washington and our state capitals do every day. Why should this be so?
I think the media have much to do with it. Mike Francesa on WFAN television and Harvey Araton of The New York Times cover the game as if it deserves respect, as if breaches of courtesy matter. But politics is covered as if it were professional wrestling or ethnic cleansing. The media keep the pot boiling and, like Goldman Sachs executives, cop to no wrongdoing. Just doing their jobs. Oh yeah, like the smarmy Goldman dirt bags just doing their jobs on us.
The next time anyone criticizes A-Rod for irrational exuberance " and bush-league behavior, remember that we don`t deserve the bush-league Congress and legislatures we endure. Or do we? Is it our fault? I don`t have an easy answer. I know we pay for our tickets and go out to the ball park. We cheer like crazy, we boo like crazy, but we expect admirable behavior from the players. It`s their duty. It`s their contract with us. Don`t the pols have a contract with us, or is it every man for himself 24/7?
What is Congress`s duty? To stick their fingers in each others` eyes, to gouge the public coffers, to act like schoolyard bullies and girlish sulkers? Isn`t their duty to conduct our business in at least as dignified a manner as our baseball heroes play baseball? Is that too much to ask?
Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.
His book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction in 2008. His poems have been published in The American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, poemeleon, The Same, and other journals. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal LattÃ©`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com