By Jerry Bowen
Los Angeles, CA, USA
This is the most wonderful time of year when life springs anew (unless you have a dead lawn in drought parched California) and hope is reborn (unless you are mulling over a choice for President).
My wife and I joined a half dozen of our neighbors on our Los Angeles block who decided to rip out their old lawns. Our turf has been replaced by drought-tolerant plants. Rosemary instead of blue grass. Low hedges to accent the emerging groundcover. Drip irrigation to give it life. One day the ensemble of succulents and pencil bushes will become a mosaic of warm colors in mulch. And it will be good.
The choice for President is not so easy. This display of democracy in action is messy, embarrassing and frustrating. Debate after debate.
The entertainment value that drew record ratings early on is losing energy. Policy discussion such as it was has given way to zingers about body part size.
There is the stomach-churning realization that one of these candidates may actually be elected leader of the free world. Small hands, perspiration problems and slick sermonizing aside.
Where, wondering minds want to know, are the down-to-earth, reasonable, thoughtful candidates who are genuinely interested in finding solutions for the problems we face? The kind of person whose second grade teacher noted in their report card: "Plays well with others!" The Jimmy Stewart/Tom Hanks hybrid. Humble, noble, wise and existing, sadly, only in movies.
It is interesting that my Republican and Democratic friends are both frustrated by the choices before them. My GOP pals find Trump to be a dangerous narcissist ignorant of real world problems and possible solutions.
Cruz is seen as a power hungry hypocrite who proclaims his faith and accepts without comment or apology the support of religious leaders who advocate murdering gays because the Bible tells them so.
And John Kasich, the self-styled prophet with staff firmly in hand, who somehow sees a way to march to the mountain top at that political Promised Land in Cleveland. From the rubble of that brokered convention, he will rise! Amen brother.
My Democratic friends realize their two choices could be worse given what Republicans are faced with, but still there is grumbling.
Bernie Sanders has generated excitement and seized on the fears and concerns of younger voters. But those, who are long in the tooth and remember Eugene McCarthy, who inspired a Vietnam War generation, seriously doubt his ability to win a general election.
God knows Hillary Clinton has a long record of public service and still seems inevitable as the Democratic Party nominee. But there is also that long record of baggage. The email server is the self-inflicted gift that keeps on giving to Republicans.
The Clinton Foundation is the mystery package that has her followers (and political enemies) wondering if there is some troubling there.
Throw in Benghazi and the ghost of Bill (along with the real life, prone-to-wing-it, Bill) and a certain weariness sets in. An enthusiasm gap that is reflected in the lower turnout for the Democratic primaries and caucuses.
The 2016 Presidential campaign is a tough choice except for the hardliners in both parties. The rest of us may be faced with the "hold your nose" option. It may not be the choice we hoped for, but it is the choice we have. And a choice we are obligated to make.
The issues demand it. The Supreme Court. Global Warming. Voices calling for boots on the ground in foreign wars. (Will their sons and daughters be in those boots? Just asking.) Equal rights. Voting rights. Health care. Make your own list. Hold your nose if you have to. Pick your poison.
There is much political theater to be played out as I write this. Over the decades I have watched presidential campaigns that have never been as good...or bad as this.
You can't make this stuff up and I am not sure you'd really want to. Fiction is one thing. The political reality of 2016 is something else.