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06/04/2010 12:31 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Baseball Cap and Trade

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The big news yesterday was the heart-breaking story of Tiger pitcher Armando Galarraga's almost Perfect Game. Galaragga was robbed of this ultimate achievement by an umpire's blown call on what should have been the final out of yesterday's game against the Cleveland Indians. All the more poignant since the umpire, after seeing the unequivocal post-game instant replay, was quick to acknowledge his mistake.

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Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm issued a proclamation declaring Galarraga’s outing a perfect game, and presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs joked that President Obama was mulling an executive order. Senator Debbie Stabenow and Congressman John Dingell called on Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig to change the ruling under his inherent powers to act in the best interests of baseball. Selig declined to change history but vowed reforms, including the likely greater use of instant replay to correct on-the-field mistakes.

A friend tells me the baseball story ran second on The Today Show yesterday morning right behind the update on the BP oil disaster.

There's a message here: The country is yearning for problems we know how to solve. 

Things are hard right now. The economy is recovering, but people are still hurting. Tensions are high in the Koreas and the Middle East. And the BP disaster goes on and on.

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Over the last year, the news media have reported the day-to-day political struggles over the recovery act, health care, financial reform, and -- now -- energy policy. But the context is missing.

Right now, we in the midst of a collosal political struggle. On one side are those who believe we can work together through our government to solve real and difficult problems -- indeed that these problems cannot be solved without government action. On the other side are those who believe (or say they do) that the government only screws things up, and maybe the problems aren't even real.

I can understand how some of our fellow citizens are frustrated by the complexity of modern problems. Some choose to wish those problems away. Others have given up on government as a force that can solve them.

But those who run for office on that back of that anger and frustration, by denying problems and rejecting solutions -- they are a different breed.

I wish all our problems were as straightforward as that call at first base, and that we had instant replay to sort out all our mistakes. But outside the ballpark, life is more complicated. 

Over the last year the president and the congressional majority -- sometimes with help from a few moderates crossing the aisle -- have stepped up to face real problems and have accomplished big things. Now, with the daily feed from BP's spillcam underlining why, it is time for the Senate, with a strong hand from the president, to step up once more and adopt comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation.

We have a long national history of confronting complicated problems, and solving them. And of rewarding the political leaders who step up to do it.

This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.