Inspiring -- monumental -- spine-tingling -- these were our feelings on our first trip to the nation's capital. Noble words everywhere carved in marble and granite: duty, patriotism, honor, sacrifice. Heads up. Shoulders back. I'm proud to be an American. The entire scene reminds us that perhaps the greatest flowering of genius ever known occurred at the time of the American Revolution.
His head high in the clouds, the tourist is unwittingly returned to reality. The contrast is as shocking as the recent presidential quote: "I'll whip his ass" -- is compared with the Founding Fathers' ". . . we pledge our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."
We stand on the steps of a magnificent building, admiring the view. Pierre L'Enfant planned an exquisite city. But lo, here comes a jogger, clad in shorts, Addidas T-shirt, jogging shoes and sweatband. Who is he? He's not a tourist. It's 11 in the morning, so he can't be a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisors or a consultant to the Department of Energy. Those fellows work from dawn to dusk, we are told. He's not a congressman. They are all either at home electioneering, or else they are on a foreign junket. So he must be a Bureaucrat! We all know that Washington is crowded with these types, but we thought they spend all their time writing new regulations. Not so -- they jog. And they spoil the otherwise grand views of the city.
Other joggers come into view, and they accompany us all day as we see the sights. A long line is waiting to get into the White House. Two joggers pause where the line crosses the street, there to engage in a display of physical fitness which is bound to reassure the taxpayer that his government is, indeed, in good hands. One of the pair, obviously a senior bureaucrat, is trying to push over a light post with his bare hands. The other, just as obviously his junior, counts the efforts and openly admires his boss' physical prowess.
The hundreds of tourists who witness this spectacle must have asked: Are these exhibitionists on my payroll? Who's back minding the store? The parade of joggers continues long past the lunch hour. Where do they shower and clean up after their exertions? Or do they return to work at all? Aside from the ludicrous show these guys put on for the public, it must cost us miliions (billions)? in lost manhours. Back home in Chicago, joggers jog on their own time -- mornings or evenings, but seldom during the day time. Also, they jog in their home neighborhoods or in the parks, but never in the alabaster canyons of the Loop.
Another insidious thought: the government was doing pretty well before jogging became a fad. The nation's problems seem to increase in direct proportion to the increase in our public servants' physical condition.
Can you imagine Georgie Washington, in powdered wig and silk breeches, jogging down Constitution Avenue, with Tommie Jefferson at his side? How about Marty Van Buren, sidewhiskers flying, panting and sweating up Pennsylvania Avenue? And how would Grovie Cleveland look, all 300-plus pounds of him, puffing and bringing up the rear?
If these misguided macho-types would place as much emphasis on their mental fitness as they do on their physical fitness, there would be no such contraditions as the present inflation/recession. There would be less unemployment, more production and no energy crisis.