After a brief flurry of activity, my blogging once again slowed to a crawl. The muse was keeping her distance, for whatever reason. But, if you wait long enough, inspiration will present itself. Often in the form of an angry, 70-year-old man.
After voters pretty much slept through the non-event that the recent county primary turned out to be, former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton storms back into the collective consciousness, spouting opinions that make a lot of people scratch their heads and wonder what’s wrong.
Hizzoner has declined to appear at a debate sponsored by WREG-TV (full disclosure: I worked at Channel 3 for 8 years). Dr. Herenton believes that the regular panelists who pose the questions at 3’s debates, Norm Brewer and Otis Sanford, are in some way biased towards him. He made the point to a reporter that this bias stretches back years. It’s possible that he’s confusing detached, non-partisan coverage and commentary with bias, but I certainly don’t want to speak for him. I don’t know Sanford, except for his commentaries at the CA, which always seem well-informed. I do know Brewer, since our time at 3 overlapped. In my view, he’s a fair man.
Perhaps the voters in the Greater Memphis area are familiar enough with the Herenton record (a dozen years as superintendent of schools, elected to 5 terms as mayor, etc.) that they wouldn’t necessarily gain anything from hearing additional discourse during his attempt to win the 9th District Congressional seat from incumbent Steve Cohen. By the way, in case you don’t remember, this piece in the Memphis Flyer should serve to remind you that he doesn’t think much of Rep. Cohen either.
When it comes to the people asking questions during debates, I think all the local stations that have aired debates have done a good job of choosing fair panelists (my ex-wife was a panelist during a gubernatorial debate on Channel 3 several years ago, and did a fine job).
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that either of the current questioners are in fact, biased against the candidate. If that bias were to show up in the form of the questions posed, wouldn’t it be pretty obvious? And wouldn’t that also reflect positively on the candidate who recognized that? ‘See, I told you they were biased…’ And isn’t there a chance that something like that could actually engender some sympathy (and votes) for the maligned candidate? I mean, if you keep your cool under fire and calmly present the salient details of your 30 years of public service and plans for your work in Congress, would it really matter how biased the questioners were?
The former mayor didn’t deign to debate any of the other candidates in his last campaign either. Of course, if you’ve got four terms behind you and solid electoral support, it’s really quite feasible to skip a joint TV appearance with several lesser knowns. On the other hand, if you’ve been out of office (and the public eye) for months and are running against someone who has as much success at the ballot box – and is the incumbent – you’d do yourself well to showcase the differences between yourself and your opponent as publicly as possible. Depending on the good will of your traditional support without doing anything to shore up that support (anything except personal attacks), might be short-sighted.
I did think it was interesting that Dr. Herenton made the point to a television interviewer that he did not dodge tough questions, asking the reporter himself for confirmation. Of course, some of the best Memphis TV over the last decade-and-a-half has been the former mayor walking away from news cameras (which he did again during this interview after a particularly inflammatory comment).
The Trilla’ from Wasilla!
While I’m happy that we have such interesting political figures, it worries me that many of them are capable of getting voted into office.
The former governor of Alaska (and vice presidential candidate) was in Illinois for a fund-raising event this week. Personally, I don’t have a problem with Sarah Palin expressing her views. Those views obviously strike a chord with many Americans, but it seems the more distance a politician puts between him or herself and the middle, the more they’re open to mocking. Tina Fey had a pretty good career going, but she should be sending regular payments to Gov. Palin.
There was another event in the Chicagoland area, timed to coincide with the governor’s appearance. Chicago’s Admiral Theatre didn’t just hold a Sarah Palin look-alike contest – the entrants were all strippers. After all, the Admiral is a “gentleman’s club.”
A Brazillian woman named Eloah Rocha won the $2,500 first prize (you know a prize is a big deal when it comes on a big cardboard check). Well, maybe she’s going to use the money for college tuition (Irony or sarcasm? I’m not sure).
I just feel lucky that I’m not good-looking enough to be the target of parody.