Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

CROSSROADS COMMENT -- Skunks Fight for Middle of the Road

If this keeps up I’m looking for Fox and CNN news teams to show up in our Crossroads city any day now. The mayoral election earlier this month continues to boil in the recount process, in the courts and most of all in letters and online forums. And while Fox news usually ignores any story without a missing white teen girl or a soused celebrity involved, and Lou Dobbs at CNN won’t touch anything happening north of Del Rio, Texas, the Burke-Bennett brouhaha does have the appeal of providing a glimpse into the future.

You don’t have to put in much tube time to note that what passes for news on TV these days is usually about titillation or speculation. Kevin and Duke, titillation? They’re good strapping fellows but not exactly square-jawed types who would look good windsailing or perched on a mountain bike. Nothing GQ worthy there.

So the personal/emotional/legal knot that is our mayors’ race would be played as a harbinger of things to come in the big one, the 2008 presidential tilt. Can’t you just see and hear it? – Cue dramatic music, punch special digital graphics button, run banner intro: “AT THE CROSSROADS OF AMERICA//AMERICA AT A CROSSROADS!”

Is the Burke-Bennett marathon wrestling match a small mirror (think Carnival Fun House) image of the upcoming presidential race? Our election featured scurrilous personal attacks during the campaign, scurrilous surprise dirty tricks just before the polls opened, scurrilous conspiracy theories galore, and a scurrilous thirty-percent turnout by the non-scurrilous fine citizens of our fine, and on the whole, scurrilous free community.

In Terre Haute, we are lucky to have a slim, critical minority of vociferous, out-spoken, First Amendment Freaks (bless ‘em). This is a group of, let’s say, about one-half of one-half-percent of the thirty per cent of the non-scurrilous who held their noses and bothered to vote. Many of these graffiti activists with laptops have nailed our mayor-type guys as stand-ins for Hillary and Mitt. Fox will like this, a lot.

Depending on how the recount goes, how the hydra-headed Hatch Act is interpreted, who wins the Ellis-Gambill pen pal competition, for Fox and CNN this all may be a definitive signal as to how the November 2008 election will swing.

If it is Hillary v. Mitt, it will be an ideological replay of Terre Haute’s Burke, the Democratic-Republican, v. Bennett, the Republican-Democrat, election. Big media and big local political leaders don’t like to talk about ideology and it’s economic cousin. Ideology is about class, as in rich, middle and working class. No middle-of-the-road political party (think Evan Bayh Democrats, think My Man Mitch Republicans) ever bothers to look in the working class economic ditch along the road as they speed by on their way to the next scurrilous $1000 a plate fund raiser.

And maybe that’s why only 12000 people voted in Terre Haute on November 6, 2007. Just the way middle-of-the-road parties and candidates like it.

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