Living in an endless stream

The other day I heard on the radio that Anthony Weiner may have a better than even chance of returning to public office. He’s running for mayor of New York and the polls tell us about 54 percent of New Yorkers say they’d be willing to vote for him.

Weiner, of course, famously exited Congress after a 2011 incident that I won’t go into here. But if you don’t know what happened and if you really care to know, you can look it up on the Internet.

Politics is an interesting spectator sport. Increasingly, I prefer to follow it on the sidelines.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always enjoyed politics, and my friends can tell you I have very “set” opinions on how the country should be run. But the Weiner story is just one more example of why I’m satisfied (might I say relieved?) to be covering sports for a living as opposed to “news.”

Until I gratefully accepted an opportunity to return to the Worthington Daily Globe as sports editor recently — a position I’d held here for several years until about 10 years ago when I moved into the “news” side — some of the most fun I ever had was rubbing elbows with the movers and shakers in politics. I particularly enjoyed conversing with our state leaders, like Doug Magnus, Jim Vickerman and Rod Hamilton. I always found them to be gracious people, and personally enjoyable. The same was true about national leaders like Amy Klobuchar, Mark Dayton, Gil Gutknecht and —more recently —Al Franken.

Now I know that, even today, lots of Minnesotans refuse to take Al Franken seriously as a U.S. senator, but politics aside, I have always found him very entertaining. In fact, when I first laid eyes on him as a writer-performer on NBC’s late-night Saturday Night Live show during the 1970s, he went straight to my funny bone. I still say he was the funniest guy on the show.

Some say he’s even funnier as a senator.

As for the others, it’s always been easy to see why Klobuchar’s popularity ratings stay so high. She can be tough when she wants to be, but her perkiness quotient is through the roof. Many find Dayton to be an odd and distant fellow, but I was always impressed that in one-to-one conversations he comes off to me as someone you might have known (like a friendly next-door neighbor) your whole life.

Funny how politicians can be like that sometimes. They used to say that Al Gore was like that —a stiff bore on the campaign trail —but a charming fellow face-to-face.

Whatever. I don’t really care to meet Al any time soon, actually.

I also don’t care to meet Mr. Weiner, or see him on the television, or hear his whiny voice attempt to ingratiate himself with voters. I read that he believes he has “something to contribute.” But I think he’s already contributed what he has to contribute, it isn’t much, and if New Yorkers think there’s nobody else in that city who has what it takes to be a decent mayor, well … they will get what they deserve.

Several years covering news events, rather than sports, may have left me a bit jaded and in need of a change. I left the sports side of news 10 or 11 years ago and I think, after so much professional attention given to the political sport, I’m ready to devote a greater share of my attention to “sports” sport. Only so much attention can be paid to the terrible events happening in the world before you feel that you’re wallowing in it. And I don’t know what’s worse: saturating your mind with the Benghazi mess or listening to what seems like an endless stream of self-serving hooey that Republicans and Democrats spew on the cable channels every day.

It’s a funny thing about that rhetoric: Everybody knows when a politician is lying, but yet so many “true believers” don’t seem to care. They buy into what they want to believe regardless, and regurgitate it to their friends and acquaintances.

Sports is a little like that, too, actually. There are those who still say the Minnesota Twins are going to catch fire at some time during the season and climb into the AL Central division race. But when they say it, it sounds better.

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