It's amazing how quickly the haze can burn off, bringing formerly obscured vistas into sharp clarity.
What, you don't remember that haze? Well, it was metaphorical, but it was real, and it gave way to clear bright skies this week.
Today, we can see all the way to November.
Political uncertainties are the bane of election-watchers and headline-writers (not to mention pixel-pundits). We like simple story lines, clear choices, eithers and ors.
As of today, we've got all of that. And we've got it on the federal, state and local level.
The big daddy of that trio came today, with the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Health Care Act (hopefully that phrase will enter the general lexicon over the next four months, replacing the derisive "Obamacare"). The high court's ruling draws a clear line of distinction between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
One candidate will give his all to see that tens of millions of Americans who now have no health insurance will become insured, that health insurance cannot be denied to those with pre-existing conditions, that employers provide the opportunity for health insurance coverage to their employees, that subsidies will be available for people who can't afford insurance and that Medicaid will be expanded to cover more low-income people.
And the other candidate will do his best to repeal all that.
You may have a hard time distinguishing the difference between the president's and the GOP nominee's position on improving the economy &#8211; they both want it to get better, don't they? But there's no opportunity for confusion on the health care issue; one's fer it, and one's agin' it. And this is an issue that is likely to have a direct impact on you and your family for years to come.
Let the campaign begin.
On the state level, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democratic majority of the state Legislature this week approved a $92 billion state budget that puts public education in the crosshairs of the November election.
No matter how you feel about the tactic (Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks called it a "game of chicken"), this too gives California voters a clear choice in the fall election. Are we going to temporarily raise taxes on ourselves &#8211; a four-year, quarter-percent hike in the state sales tax &#8211; and on the rich &#8211; a seven-year income tax hike for those earning more than $250,000 a year &#8211; in order to avoid lopping three weeks of learning off of the school year and making more cuts to our public education system?
The choice doesn't get much starker than that.
Finally, the haze cleared this week on our local Congressional race with the (almost) final count of votes from the June 5 primary. And, after months of talk about redistricting and reforming the traditional primary system to facilitate a different kind of race in the fall, the voters have decided (drum roll, please) to pit a traditional Democrat against a traditional Republican in November.
Now, I can already hear the arguments starting about those "traditional" adjectives. But we're talking here about the 2nd Congressional District, so you have to remember that everything is relative. Jared Huffman qualifies as the traditional Democrat because he has come up through the state Legislature, garnered the endorsement of incumbent Lynn Woolsey and socked away a campaign war chest that rivals the budgets of small nations. Dan Roberts is the traditional Republican in that he is not on the tea-party fringe, he's a securities broker from Tiburon, he largely paid for his own primary campaign and he has little chance in November.