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June 2012
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See the good, even in disagreement


Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, "In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." After the brutally hard winter now finally past it may be forgivable, even understandable, if an old man's does something similar.

Perhaps the cold and snow have made this column even more churlish and curmudgeonly than usual over the past weeks. But now that this long awaited and hopeful season of renewal has at last arrived, it is altogether fitting and proper to repent in the Lenten spirit, albeit briefly, of such meanness.

There really is a lot to love in the realm of American and Kentucky politics. One should never forget this no matter how dire the circumstances may be and should occasionally celebrate it. So in the first of what should become a vernal ritual, here is a tribute to some the good in those with whom this pundit usually disagrees.

President Obama has succeeded in the aspiration he expressed in the 2008 campaign to be a transformational leader like Ronald Reagan. Obama said Reagan changed the trajectory of America and put it on a fundamentally different path.

Americans may long debate the wisdom of the Obama transformation, but none can deny its reality. A politician who declares such an audacious ambition and then achieves it merits a measure and sort of respect regardless of how wrong one may think he or she is.

Vice President Joe Biden is almost irresistibly likable. He may have made Dan Quayle look like Jack Kennedy after all, but Biden is undeniably authentic, and that is worth a lot. He could handle the presidency if ever required, which may be the best thing one can say about a vice president.

Bill and Hillary Clinton are unbelievable. Both senses of the word may sometimes apply, but this time the focus is on the best one.

They are brainy, focused, talented, thick-skinned, and have mastered the mysteries of maintaining political popularity through circumstances that would have destroyed lesser mortals and maybe some minor deities. Even their fiercest foes must marvel at their political skill.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has been a solid chief executive. He has guided the commonwealth through some truly tough times, made some hard decisions when he had to, and run a relatively scandal-free administration. Beshear might have been bolder, but he has not embarrassed the state, which history shows is no small accomplishment.

Attorney General Jack Conway has done meaningful work on the issue of illegal drugs that are devastating the state. From the scourge of prescription pain pills to the plague of heroin, this is an area in which Conway's work has been extremely commendable.

One cannot help but admire how U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, the only Democrat in the Kentucky congressional delegation, energetically, faithfully, and most of the time happily proclaims his very liberal views in this fairly conservative state. Yarmuth is articulate, smart, witty, and one of the Left's best spokespeople in all of Washington.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes may have bitten off more than she can chew by challenging Mitch McConnell, but at least she had the guts to do it. She could win, and even if she loses her next race will seem like a breeze after going through this one. And next time Grimes will have the confidence and experience to run the race her way with a lot less deference to familial and professional handlers.

The political road from this welcome equinox through the next three Novembers will be a hard, hot, and long one. Many sharp and occasionally unfair things will be said and written here and elsewhere as part of the debate.

Pundits, like other people, can sometimes be too strident, or worse, because the issues are so important and the stakes are so high. Every now and then it is appropriate, even necessary, to issue a blanket apology for feelings hurt, lines crossed, and things that would be undone if they could be.

Once a year is probably not often enough to celebrate the goodness in those who hold opposing views, but is at least better than never. One can only hope that political adversaries will occasionally do the same. Spring is, after all, a season for miracles.

John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com.

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