Sometimes it’s best to be in the midwest


McZena Muse - LOUISE SWARTZWALDER



BELLVILLE — Who would have thought it would come to this?

Right now, at this very moment, I am quite happy I am sitting in a place that has sunshine, kind and thoughtful people.

I am happy — can this be true? —that I am no longer living in Washington, D.C.

I am now an observer, from afar, of the dysfunctional functioning of our government.

I used to like living in suburban Takoma Park, Md., right across the District of Columbia line in Maryland.

There is no place more beautiful, or more plentiful in the kinds of cultures one can observe. For a time I worked in politics. Then I started my own business. We catered (literally) to people in power. I got to see closely and personally the foibles of people who had sought that elevated position of being a congressman or senator.

Some of the people I sold to and catered for were unblemished by the closeness to the people most see now only on television, or on the web.

I developed some friends. Former Congressman Jim Leach (R., Ia.) is a favorite of mine. Though he and his wife Deba (short for Elizabeth) did well gravitating through the layers of powerful people there, they remained more firmly focused on things they considered really important.

Jim was a moderate Republican, who stood firm in his convictions. Deba ran an art gallery, and joined a group named Peace Links, which helped spouses of legislators communicate with people from other countries.

Given the state of politics, even moderate Republican Jim Leach couldn’t withstand a challenge. He lost to a Democrat in 2006. He was named by former President Barack Obama to head the National Endowment for the Humanities. He served there from 2009 to 2013, then returned to Iowa.

Being in Iowa is a thing someone can envy.

I lived there for a while, too. People there were never afraid to look you in the eye. I found when I moved to bigger cities even looking at a person directly was considered inappropriate.

I loved my life in Takoma Park, though existence there was confounding.

If you wanted to make it in business, or in your profession in the nation’s capital, you had to learn the art of being the cut throat.

I worked in politics, seeing the hard way how taking up that profession (if you want to call it that) can mold you into less of a whole person.

Frequently, when I can’t sleep at night, I think about marvelous words. And how to properly use them.

For some reason, the term “molly-coddling” recently came to me.

That is an old word, one I am sure I heard my mother use. If you’re “molly-coddled” you are being “over protected.”

Then, I thought of “vain glorious.”

If that term is applied to you, it means you have excessive vanity or are boastful.

I fear, my friends, that a few too many people involved in government now could have that latter term applied to them.

We can see, if we observe closely, people caught up in the power of the moment.

It doesn’t matter if you are in a political party, a paper pusher, a journalist.

Because we are now about two weeks into the term of a new President, everyone is writhing in the agony of trying to be the first, the most prescient, to analyze and expound on the meaning of it all.

I have a lot of friends who are telling me, through posts on Facebook, they can’t stand how things are.

There are some who are on the other side, who are almost salivating at what they see as the good fortune of everyone.

There was a time when I was a working journalist for a large publication we had to follow the first 100 days of a person’s time in power.

This was, trust me, a bit too detailed a treatment of a person’s performance.

We all know a little bit too much now about the performance of Kellyanne Conway, the woman who was campaign manager for the President. A prominent journalist — do I need to name him — has tried to nail her down on some items, like the use of the term “alternative facts.”

Not done.

Democrats have been ineffectual in putting up any kind of challenge to early declarations of the new POTUS.

He, the new POTUS, goes about his business, not covering his head or going to stand in a corner.

Maybe the best thing to do, for everyone, is to adopt the perspective on life of someone like Jim Leach.

He for one would not be “molly-coddling” anyone.

For a news person, I find my position mystifying.

I at times have begun to turn away from the news, an odd thing to say for a newspaper woman.

My largest fear is that a certain phenomenon could occur.

Here’s another fine word for you: implode.

It means to explode inwardly, violently.

It means a person could explode inwardly, violently.

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McZena Muse

LOUISE SWARTZWALDER