Please Don't Take My Sunshine Away

By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ed Markey is my friend. I have known the Massachusetts congressman for years and consider him to be a swell fellow with eminently correct political views (liberal) and a ready sense of humor. It pains me, then, to say that I am going to have to work for his defeat in the next election. While my back was turned, Eddie Markey took something from me that I value immensely: the morning sun.

Markey is the guy responsible for advancing the onset of daylight saving time by three weeks. He has done this, he says, to save energy and to bring a smile to the faces of grateful people throughout the nation who are, he thinks, immeasurably pleased that he has taken the sun from the morning and moved it to the evening. He forgets, or he does not care, that there are those of us who love the morning sun and wait months for it to appear at just this time of the year. It did. And then Markey took it from us.

Eddie, Eddie, how could you do this to me? You get up at 7, you told the Boston Globe. But I get up an hour earlier, at least -- sometimes more. I set the alarm clock for 6, sometimes 5:30, and I groan and wallow in deep depression, guttering Swedish as in an Ingmar Bergman film, seeing nothing but darkness and anomie out the window. I look forward to the arrival of spring when the sun wakes me. It's a better way to get up. No jarring alarm. Just the sun sort of caressing my face. It is nature's alarm clock. What was intended.

According to my charts, the sun was rising closer and closer to 6 a.m. until Markey intervened. On the day before this awful law went into effect, the sun rose at 6:28. Sometimes I'd sleep in a bit and let the sun do its work, but even if I arose in the dark, by the time I made coffee . . . there it was! Such a beauty! My friend. My pal.

Now, my charts tell me that I'll have to wait until April 18 before we get back to where we were, and May 11 before we hit the 6 a.m. mark -- more than an extra month of morose morning darkness. In exchange, Markey and his merry band of meddlers insist they'll put a smile on my face because there'll be more sun on the other end. Nice, I suppose. But I don't belong to one of those after-work softball leagues, and I bike, when I can, earlier in the day. I concede that sun at any time is nice; it's just that if I have to choose, I'd rather have it in the morning.

To tell you the truth, this whole thing rather stunned me. I know the government has regulated daylight saving time (on and off) since the First World War, but this latest modification strikes me as unnecessary and somewhat -- I know no better word -- socialistic. Here's the government, the government for crying out loud, deciding on its own when the sun should come up. I mean, it's bad enough that the feds tap our phones and keep changing the definition of torture so that even the rack would not apply, but now they just come in (without a warrant or anything) and take away an hour of morning sunlight. It's enough to make a conservative out of a person. I'm thinking of subscribing to the Weekly Standard (How's the war going, boys?) or joining one of those right-wing Christian groups that hate the government, evolution and, I suppose, me. On second thought, maybe not.

Markey has statistics suggesting that traffic accidents will be reduced by -- hold on to your seats here -- 1 percent and that crime will plummet. The farmers don't much like the change -- actually, they don't like change of any kind -- but the sporting goods lobby and the barbecue lobby are behind the new measure in a big way. Apparently, more people barbecue in the evening than, say, at dawn. The same must go for golf, although as a former caddie I know golfers will take what's offered. They are a needy bunch.

Oh, Markey, how could you? My sun, my sun -- you've taken my sun. This is government at its worst, its most intrusive. Can't we at least compromise? Give me back a half-hour. I'll write nice columns about you. How about 15 minutes? I'm waiting.

My next column: The secret sex life of Ed Markey.

cohenr@washpost.com


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