Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ad hominem radio

My wife is off to Augusta, waging battle with her fellow Democrats at their state convention. She'll have her hands full, as she is supporting Hillary, and the Obama-rama crowd will do all they can to push forward their American Idol candidate.

I've cooled on the presidential race, as all three candidates have become more and more disappointing, as the race has progressed. If the presidential election occurred today, I'd probably sit it out for the very first time in my life.

Beng a political junkie, it's very tough for me to ignore politics entirely, however. As I was out and about, running Saturday morning errands, I managed to listen to much of John McDonald's show, on WGAN-560. I even managed to place a call and shamelessly work in a plug for Moxietown. John's a gentleman, and a storyteller supreme. Most of the time, he manages to promote some reasonable debate, and respects his listeners.

The follow-up program, Inside Maine, with Phil Harriman (who is always absent, requiring a weekly guest host) and Barbara Merrill followed. This week's fill-in was Mike Violette, who is part of the left-right morning team of Ken (Altshuler) and Mike.

[Violette (R), plays Mutt, to Ken Altshuler's (L) Jeff]

Weekdays, Violette plays Altshuler's right-wing foil, regularly resorting to personal attacks, and ideological blathering on issues that more times than not, would benefit from a more nuanced approach. That's not part of WGAN's programming, as nuanced would be at the bottom of a list of characterisations befitting a lineup the likes of Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh (who at least has some entertainment value), and Bill O'Reilly, with few exceptions.

This morning, Violette took shots at credible Second District Congressman, Mike Michaud (calling him a "moonbat"), as well as 1st District Senate candidate, Laurie Dobson (can't remember the term used for another personal attack), and besmirched 75-year old psychologist, Dr. Herbert J. Hoffman, also running against the status quo candidates, Susan Collins, and Tom Allen. Hoffman's crime? He dared support Dennis Kucinich, which in Violette's book, is the equivalent of a political scarlet letter. Sadly, Kucinich was a candidate with integrity, and someone still in touch with his less than stellar origins, and people facing the economic challenges that he's managed to conquer.

WGAN is free to staff their programming with anyone they want. The market obviously supports their choice of hosts, like Violette, who cling desperately to ideology, rather than offering the kind of pragmatic solutions that Maine, and beyond, require. But then again, all he has to do is talk, and spew his attacks. He doesn't have to actually contribute something tangible towards making Maine a better place to live.


Mark LaFlamme said...

It surprises me that you're turned off from the campaign. For the first time I can remember, the drive for the White House resembles a baseball game. Is Obama so confident he'll get the nomination that he'll try to pitch around Hillary from here out? Will Hillary try to lay down a bunt in coming days or will she swing for the fence? Will Florida and/or Michigan be allowed to pinch hit, or are they out of the lineup?
Watching as though it were being played out on the diamond makes it easier to follow for noobs like me. I had to get absorbed in the campaign this year because I wrote a novel about the process. It's a selfish reason to get involved, but politics is all about selfishness. And baseball.

Anonymous said...

No: politics isn't about selfishness: it is about uplifting people. There will always be the gladiators and the bread and circuses, but they are there to distract people from their misery. That is an unsatisfactory state of affairs; not one we can countenance or condone, however amusement ridden it may be.
I am running because I do believe that although it takes more courage to do what is right than to fear (and enable) what is wrong, people occasionally prevail and champions still sometimes emerge. Cynicism may be more entertaining in the short run but I advise holding out for those who are willing to make it a better world for their children and the rest of the humans who will pick up where we left off. They may not win, but what is good usually has an element of risk attached to it--that is where character comes in, something I find supremely interesting to witness and to support in candidates
Laurie Dobson
Thanks to the blogger for his insights.

Jim said...

I appreciate the prior comments.

I'm not sure what politics is currently about. I find that candidates that have values, and are genuine, are more often than not, kicked to the curb, and ridiculed by political hacks like the WGAN staffer I wrote about. Then, regardless of their message, it gets blocked by the money and star quality of the celebrity politicians, which Obama certainly is. While I had a brief period of wavering belief in Mrs. Clinton, I ultimately had to forego the pretzel logic that I was forced to perform, in order to support her. Having said that, I respect her right to campaign until the convention, and I'm hoping, for drama's sake, that we have our first floor fight since 1980.

As a former grass-roots organizer, my focus continues to be on politics, and change, but at the street level. Anything above the local level leaves me nonplussed.

Herb Hoffman said...

A short note. It is unfortunate that Mr. Violette had to resort to ad hominem attacks on the three candidates mentioned. However, it is typical of the pro-war, pro-administration approach since they have very weak positions on policy matters. I am very proud to have worked with and for Dennis Kucinich, a man of high principle, integrity and courage. I have included most of his platform in my platform and I shall be showing the people of Maine how these priniciples and programs will benefit them and the rest of the Nation.