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June 26, 2012

Political Hot Season

Roy Meachum

Summer arrived Thursday. The political campaigns sharpen toward November. For the life of me – boy and man, taxpayer and journalist – I have never heard the language that permeates the nation’s broadcast and print media and the Internet these days.


Several opposition figures shouted out, calling the president “liar.” It’s flatly hypocritical when they sharply criticize the economy, while scuppering bills aimed at fixing the nation. On the other hand, they express nostalgia for the previous chief executive; on his watch the root-causes for the current dilemma started.


There’s no way that George W. Bush created the Euro crisis going on right now, but the Western currencies are based on the dollar; and Mr. Bush had a lot to do with that sad situation. To placate the exasperating Vice President Richard Cheney, his administration offered tax cuts to the very people best able to pay them. Subsidies for corporations were floated around freely – and snapped up. Conservative voices allege they were started by the present Oval Office’s occupant. Bushwa! As we say in my native Louisiana.


The inevitable standard-bearer for these voices is Mitt Romney. He promises jobs for Americans brought back from overseas – without an apology that his Bain Corporation exported some of the positions originally. His candidacy has hauled in millions and millions, including a fortune from Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Abelson, notorious this election year for backing Newt Gingrich, saying all negative things about Mr. Romney.


In years past, Mr. Abelson’s involvement caused the withdrawal of Sen. Charles “Mac” Mathias. In fact, after weary months of fighting the Massachusetts governor for the nomination, their party hoi polloi wound up in his well-funded corner. There was no choice. Ron Paul retains his single-issue Libertarian crusade.


Beyond ire, this warm-up to the November elections could be treated as grotesque, even comedic. The big laugh payoff came when a reporter vied with the president for attention at a recent press conference. Known for bumptious attitude while covering the White House, former colleague Sam Donaldson remarked on the lack of civility and downright un-professionalism.


For almost four years, Barack Obama has endured disrespect not owed to his high office. As I’ve written before, his color has much to do with it. Integration was declared the law of the land by the Supreme Court in 1954. On orders from Missouri-born Harry S Truman, the armed forces were placed beyond racial considerations six years earlier. I was in the Army in Germany at the time; I was not impressed by the speed that the military complied. Regulations are logical. Human emotions are not.


Being from the segregated Deep South, I became aggressively liberal on human rights, due to the influence of a former slave, Uncle William. In columns and otherwise, I supported and voted for Republicans, much to the consternation of the local Democratic Party.


When it comes to the national slate, I’m no better behaved – from my party’s point of view. I was more compliant when I lived in Washington. I don’t recall casting a ballot for John F. Kennedy. My second son can attest I voted for Lyndon B. Johnson. Because of my memories of Herblock’s cartoons when I worked for The Washington Post, Richard M. Nixon always remained with a five o’clock shadow and conspiratorial hue. Although Jimmy Carter’s promenade along Pennsylvania Avenue knocked my socks off, when he tried for re-election, I backed Ronald Reagan. I tend to be swayed by the individual rather the candidate’s selection of a party.


But I discern there’s much tragedy in the present attitude toward politics that will damage this 236-year-old democracy. And that makes me most unhappy, as you must know.


For the climatologic heat, Pushkin and I will stay off the city’s sidewalks in the coming months, at least until the sun goes down behind the shuttered Carmack-Jay’s across North Market.


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