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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Political overload has struck campaign

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Let's all agree on one thing - the political season is just too damned long. Months of politicking have now turned into years of campaigning. The American public is keenly interested in the positions and policies of the candidates but let's be honest here. Even for the seasoned observers, we're experiencing political overload.

If you're undecided at this point in the campaign, you're just lazy or stubborn or stupid. There cannot be another position explained that will somehow instantly push your opinion one way or the other. If you're undecided it's because you're just unwilling to take a position. If you're waiting for the other shoe to fall, don't hold your breath.

Increasingly too in this heated campaign, the national news media sinks lower and lower in public opinion. One recent poll I read put the news media one notch above the lowest position of esteem which just happened to be trial lawyers. And as a not so casual observer of the media, I'm beginning to agree.

I doubt the American public has any hint of trust remaining for the talking heads of national television. And the New York Times long ago tumbled far down in public opinion for their obvious slant on the news. The pillars of national opinion now occupy a position of embarrassment and distrust. How did this happen?

When Dan Rather opens his mouth, I am convinced he is lying like a dog. I'm certain that other observers feel the same about Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly. And I can't make the case that any of these "reporters" don't push the envelope of truth from time to time. With that lack of respect and trust, it's no wonder our political campaigns take on a sideshow atmosphere.

Rather opened his mouth this week and slammed President Bush's military record only to have a full-fledged investigation launched the following day into the authenticity of his information. And while the three major networks once held a monopoly on the airwaves, Fox news and CNN have now toppled these giants to second-tier status. On many nights, more people watch Fox news than the three major networks combined. What exactly does that say?

And while we're talking about political reform and shoddy reporting, the campaign financing reform much touted in Washington, D. C., is obviously a joke. Loopholes that allow new "issue" groups to spend without limit has made a mockery of the word "reform."

All in all, we have yet to devise a civilized manner to air the views of candidates without the increasing negative tone of all campaigns. Granted, it's a better system than most but it still stinks much of the time.

The primary election season is too long and far too ripe for abuse. And after this elongated circus, we're left with only negatives to dominate the actual campaign itself. Throw in a media dotted with questions of honesty and special interest groups spending money with virtually no limits and you have the ingredients for a mess.

Since only half of registered voters will actually go to the polls in November, I'm beginning to wonder if the non-voters don't have a point. And coming from a lifelong political junkie, that's a sad assessment.

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