Friday, February 8, 2008

Across the Country

Sorry for not writing for a while, but I have been touring a lot in the last week promoting Anything for a Vote. Or at least taking the modern-day author's version of a tour--sitting in my bathrobe in my ancient desk chair up in my attic study talking to radio stations on the phone. Perhaps 50 in all, and my voice, a hoarse rasp, now reflects it.
But there is something wonderful about what they call a "Satellite Media Tour." Put on hold and inevitably listening to the local news for about a minute before talking to the host, one gets the sense of skimming across the country, just below the cloud cover. You hear about snow closings in New England, traffic snarls in New York, county road construction in Iowa, pouring rain in Portland. Of course, the commercials--there was Planned Parenthood in the east, Bible Belt church announcements in the West. Plus a lot of pitches for home real estate seminars, debt management, used cars, telephone sales--harbingers, perhaps, of a reeling economy.
Coming into the actual talk program there is usually a blast of rock music, a whoosh as if an airplane engine is taking off. On the more conservative stations, a particularly popular sound effect this week has been the clip of Hillary laughing, echoing endlessly, like The Wicked Witch of the West. But the hosts, whether liberal or conservative or ideologically neutral (at least professionally) were unfailingly interested and courteous, except for one national Fox radio personality whose name rhymes with "sow" and who acted like it (sorry, don't mean to insult pigs). And I had one poor host in Indiana who was horrified to learn that Davy Crockett was anything but a frontier hero of epic proportions (Davy was the Congressmen who, in 1836, infamously claimed that Martin Van Buren wore women's clothes).
But Super Tuesday had callers and hosts incredibly excited -- I have never seen so much interest in an American election campaign. Will Obama and Hillary destroy each other in their quest for victory? (There seems to be a longing in some liberal circles that the two, like squabbling spouses, unite and form one team, although there is little consensus on who would be Pres, who Vice-Pres.) Will John McCain, especially now that Mitt Romney has dropped out and Mike Huckabee made an unexpectedly strong showing, be able to placate the conservative wing of the party? On one station there was speculation about a third party run within the GOP, which caused me to relate an anecdote from 1912. Then, Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose candidacy split the Republican party in two, leading one Republican to quip: "The only question is, which corpse gets the flowers." (Woodrow Wilson's Democrats, naturally, won over a divided GOP.)
Back from radio tour of the country, I can only say that we've never seen an election like this one. There is so much more to come.

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