Thursday, August 20, 2009

An Itsy Bitsy Change in the Wind??

I had occasion to meet Richard Connor, the new owner of Portland's largest paper, on the way out of the MHPC Fiscal Reality Tour event yesterday. We chatted for a few minutes in the hot sun.

Connor had a lengthy commentary in the Sunday Insight Section in which he scolded those who have been speaking out fervently at the "town hall" sessions around the country, and suggested that "Some civility would be quite healthy."

I read the item and thought that he might be missing a larger point, and made a mental note to write to him about it. No need, though, as I had the chance to make my point in person. He seems like a fine man, by the way.

I told him that focusing on the health care debate might be ignoring the much larger elephant romping about before us. I suggested that the health care reform topic could simply be the proxy of the moment for a much more profound unrest: reaching the breaking point on the behavior of the permanent ruling aristocracy and their disdain for any sort of fundamental principles other than grow government, spend more.

As fate would have it, when I got home and read the local paper, I found what might be a first - at least in my memory. Two, count 'em, two commentaries on the same day, both expressing much the same point.

I want to publicly laud the authors of each, and I plan to call them personally. The first column is by Marsha Hinton of West Bath, titled "Americans finding their voice?" It contains this passage:
I guess that is why with the latest round of “town meetings” I am encouraged. Not based on whether or not I agree but that Americans are showing up, standing up and speaking up. That is what a town meeting is all about. It isn’t a lecture by a politician that the listeners are expected to nod their heads in response to. Or if in disagreement with the comments being made at the most the attendee will display a very silent pensive scowl.
The second column is by Scott Ruppert of Harpswell, titled "
Town halls, tea parties and tolerance." It contains this passage:
It’s really not about taxes, health care, debt or deficits. While they all weigh into the equation, the picture is bigger than that. At the center of the picture are rival perspectives of what made this country great and what some feel the need to apologize for, American individualism versus village collectivism, class and identity warfare, and bickering political factions that seem more willing to pander, obfuscate and redefine than they are willing to listen and represent the ones they work for.

The epicenter of this earthquake may be in D.C. but the national fallout is happening in the heartland.

This didn’t happen overnight and Barack Obama is not solely to blame. One person or political party can’t be blamed for this but rather a bipartisan political class that has systematically snubbed their constituents and the constitutional rule book for the last 50 years.
I know neither of the writers; if you know either please compliment them for their effort. And please read both. By the way, in my experience, the editors come up with the printed title used.

It did my heart good, for once, to see the op-ed page dominated by voices standing up for us, and so in contrast with the normal party line that appears on these pages.

Inquiring minds wonder; is this just an abberation that proves the rule, or is a change really coming over us, even if only by one little teeny step at a time?

Did the editors decide for their own purposes to run a token page that opposes the usual Krugman, Goodman, Rooks left wing, big government spew? Or has their inbox actually showed a marked change in the number and nature of submissions?

There's no way to know for sure. Many of us have had very telling experiences with the editors of opinion pages in this and other papers that cause us to question their objectivity, at least as we understand that word. And it goes without saying that said editorial pages virtually never live up to their self-image as "watchdogs of government," unless they are after a conservative. The case could easily be made that they are more like the RCA dog "Nipper," entranced by "his master's voice," where the masters are liberal politicians and pundits.

None-the-less, one needs to take hope where one finds it, even when it's in the most unlikely of places both editorially and geographically.

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