The late Ohio Republican congressman Buz Lukens once arrrived at Akron-Canton airport for a press conference that would fashion another lesson on the imperatives of true conservatism.
But before he blazed into the room to address a handful of reporters, a couple of his aides entered with an American flag as the congressman’s ever-present stage prop for Americanism. It was a struggle because the mast was several inches too tall for the room and was finally tilted slightly to unfurl the flag. The congressman, an aide explained, was never without his patriotic loyalties.
I later asked Lukens, a rapid-fire speaker with a shining grin permeated with sincerity, when he moved out to a college campus: How can you be so liberal-sounding to college kids and conservative at a Greek church the night before? Buz was ready for it: “I fuzz it up a bit,” he admitted with a twinkle.
Sen. Howard Metzenbaum often arrived in Cleveland from Washington with a tennis racquet under his arm to make him seem younger than his years. And Jim Rhodes sheepishly feigned a sore ankle when an older woman at an ethnic reception asked him to dance with her, an example of his quick-exit experience in getting out of awkward situations.
Political reporting was a lot simpler in those days. The ruses were easy to explain and quite harmless and the pols were never without inventing a new one or two.
Today, it’s always something much more complicated . The fiscal cliff drags on, propped up only by endless speculation on where it will go each day, and it’s doubtful that the average American really understands the consequences other than they could be bad. The right-to-work issue, like the GOP’s earlier voter repression handiwork, is filled with so much misformation-as-fact about states going out of business under the burden of unions that Ohio’s editorial writers have been largely silent (excepting the Toledo Blade) in taking a clear position – a sign that the corporate media would never see the value of opposing it .
And now, Newtown and 20 murdered children. I can count on six hands the gun control opponents who are against any tightening of gun ownership. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, one of the prettier faces in statehouses today, says “more facts” are needed before any action is taken. More facts than 20 kids mercilessly executed? Or the imbecilic notion that teachers should be armed in the classroom? With what? A handgun in the desk against a madman with a 30-bullet clip? As someone pointed out, the shootings at Ft. Hood (13 dead, 29 wounded) occurred in a place where the whole base was armed.
In Ohio, where Gov. Kasich is battle- ready for a reelection campaign, he has already declared that he is a friend of the Second Amerndment and can’t change. Has he read the Second Amendment? Did they really have concealed automatic weapons in colonial times? Do people really believe they must be armed to fight off, if it comes to that, the greatest military force in the world?
Kasich also has signed a bill permitting legislators to stash their handguns in the Statehouse parking garage. But as in some other states, you can take the firearms into churches, bars and other public places but not into a legislative hall filled with the politicians themselves. At some point will priests be equipped like Pope Julius II, known as “the Fearsome Pope,” as he marched off to battle in full military dress to oppose the sinful enemies?
Sound crazy? Crazier than what’s happening today?