Politics as Usual?

Working in Washington DC for the last 30 years has affected me. I take all the politics in the local news for granted. Here in DC we eat, drink, and breathe politics. Nearly every story is tainted with it. Some years ago I was in Omaha, Nebraska on a business trip. Yes, Omaha, Nebraska. I was working the Defense Department and the Strategic Air Command is at Offutt Air Force base there. They have great steaks in Omaha and the Officer’s Club, at the time, had Rusty Nails for ninety cents. It’s a wonder I remember anything about that trip…but I digress.

I was at the bar in the “O” Club one evening, no doubt drinking a Rusty Nail, and I watched the Omaha Evening News on the local CBS station. It was a half an hour. That was it. They had a story from the Nebraska state house and a few local stories and went off listing the prices of corn and pork bellies. I kid you not, pork bellies. And then the station aired a re-run of a comedy, “Mr. Ed,” I think.

I stared at the TV a minute and then looked at the bartender. “That’s the news? That’s it? No “CBS Evening News with Dan Rather”? No national coverage?”

The bartender grinned at me. “You must be from DC. Pentagon?”

I shook my head. “Defense Mapping [now NGA]”

He nodded. “The national news is shown on weekends, but nightly, no, not really that much interest here.” He smiled again. “Visiting staff from Washington always remark on it.”

Yes, I guess we do. Those of us that live and work in and around the nation’s capital really do have trouble imaging a world where there is no interest in politics. I see the cheering (or is that “jeering”?) sections each side brings to the town hall meetings of late, but remembering my sojourn to the hinterlands, are these folks really aware of what is going on? Are they watching any real news, I mean besides FOX or Comedy Central?

Now the great truth my father, a career Army Master Sergeant, taught me was that “Other people are crazy.” And I have found this to be true, in varying degrees, for everyone I have ever met. But really, isn’t anyone outside the beltway paying attention?

Is it still this bad?

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Joe Boutte

We need the hinterlands to stay sane. DC is crazy and the 24 hour a day news cycle is crushing critical thinking . People need to start reading again.

Henry Brown

Little more involved here in the home of the rocket scientists (Huntsville Al), perhaps because of the significant federal engagement, NASA and Major Army command with ALL the civilians and contractors. My best guess probably somewhere near 30 percent of the adult population is either directly employed by US Government or government paid contractor.
Each of the network outlets give us 3 newscasts a day and they all carry the network news. The local news USUALLY consists of ~10 minutes of local news, ~5 minutes of national news recap, ~3 minutes of weather and ~5 minutes of sports.
Been a couple of years now, and I don’t remember the exact numbers but both the cable companies published the viewing rates of the cable “news” programs, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, and they were close to the same as the ESPN family of channels
APPARENTLY, most of the country has recently discovered the “town hall meeting”, have been here almost all of this century, and our congressman has held 5 to 7 town hall meetings each year. Perhaps with the current hot button issue there has been more interest in the local town hall meetings, even carried “stories” about them on the local news.