North Coast Journal banner


With remote in hand


My name is Judy and I'm an addict.

But only every four years during the national political conventions. That's when my husband knows that we will eat dinner in front of the tube every night and I won't take phone calls, either. It will all be over Thursday and then we can move back to the dining table -- that is, until the Republicans meet in New York.

When did I become such a junkie? Probably during the Nixon-Kennedy debates in 1960. They were so tantalizing, the nervous sideways glances at each other, Nixon's 5 o'clock shadow. Then there were the Goldwater-Johnson conventions four years later, and by 1968 I was a goner. I stayed up all night with the Democrats in Chicago, long after the re-runs of the police bashing demonstrators and dragging them off to jail. I watched until the TV senselessly played "Happy Days are Here Again" while rolling the final credits.

Monday night I had my finger on the remote for a while to see how the networks (and their incestuous sister stations) were covering the convention. Who decides when they let the camera hang on a certain speaker and when they retreat to the talking heads in the booths? (Is MSNBC trying to outfox Fox, or is it me?)

I can't recall which station I was on (possibly CNN) when they cut away from the Rev. David Alston, the Baptist minister who served on the swift boat with John Kerry in Vietnam. I grabbed the remote and quickly found PBS (thank you, KEET-TV) to hear the rest of Alston's riveting speech. Was he a polished, gifted orator? Actually, no. He didn't even know when to pause and let a little applause sweep over the house. But that was his charm.

Alston was about the 10th speaker of the session. By that time most of the stations' talking heads were reporting how "tightly controlled" the convention was by Kerry people. "No Bush bashing allowed!" "He desparately needs to reach out to the undecided, not anger them." Over and over viewers were told, "You can bet all these speeches were thoroughly vetted by Kerry operatives!"

Then came Jimmy Carter with words refreshingly honest, heartfelt, truthful -- and certainly unvetted.

"After 9/11 America stood proud -- wounded, but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world. But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this good will has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations."

"... recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world's most admired champion of freedom and justice. What a difference these few months of extremism have made."

After his speech, in a PBS interview, he was even blunter, if that were possible. He said in his travels around the world he has learned that instead of this nation being held in high regard as a champion of peace and human rights, the United States is now "scorned and ridiculed." One reporter asked him if he really meant to call Iraq a "war of choice." "Yes," he said. "This administration came into office with an uncontrollable urge to go to war with Iraq."

I know, I know. President Carter wasn't a very effective president in many ways and probably didn't deserve a second term. But he still is my personal favorite ex-president. After all, how many ex-presidents have won a Nobel Peace Prize?



North Coast Journal banner

© Copyright 2004, North Coast Journal, Inc.