Feeling the noise in our cross-wired America

Ron Legro

Ron Legro
Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, USA
October 12
A lapsed and reformed journalist, one-time for-profit soldier of fortune in the private sector, and political functionary, Ron is now re-learning the joys of hanging around while watching the microcosm unfold. But he's not above rising out of his enlightened stupor to call out perfidy and hypocrisy when he sees it. Ron was an award-winning reporter who worked at several newspapers, including the Milwaukee Sentinel and Wall Street Journal. His assignments took him aboard ice breakers and into the private lives of sexually miscreant clergy. In his years pounding the street with a notebook, he covered everything from tavern brawls to mob hits to political assassinations. He has contributed to various magazines, incuding Time. As editor-in-chief of a weekly public affairs journal, he led coverage of Wisconsin government down to every last legislative vote. Ron also pulled duty as a daily TV columnist and film critic, who spent most of his space examining the sociopolitical implications of mass media. He moved on to become a consultant to communities, nonprofit interest groups and government institutions on open networks. He's also worked for a power utility, several elected officials, a housing authority, and a university. He produced cable TV programming and once acted in a commercial, just to see what it was like. He and his dear wife enjoy beach combing on Lake Michigan near their home. They go bike hiking on city streets or trails. They like sailing and cross-country skiing, too, but never seem to find the time. They hang their laundry on clothes lines. That's them in the photo, regarding the ultra-modernist, bird-winged cathedral that is the Milwaukee Art Museum.

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NOVEMBER 3, 2010 6:52PM

THE FALL 2010 ELECTION OUTCOME, explained in a sentence

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Every president in modern times has been punished at mid-term elections. This is NOT news. It is the norm. Bush was punished, Bush 41 was punished by not being re-elected, Regan lost a lot of seats, etc. Reagan's popularity right before re-election to a second term was 38%. Again, nothing new.
Well, I beg to differ. This is new, not only in degree but in kind. The punishment this time was for actually accomplishing a lot of things, the point of my post. Second, the punishment was out of proportion, thanks to $2 billion or so of mostly anonymous corporate campaign spending that vilified the very idea of changing anything and redirecting blame from the perps to the saviors.

Most every president and his party -- though not all -- indeed have been spanked in the mid-term elections. However, the new norm is that they are not just spanked, but tarred, feathered and suspended by their heels in the public square to twist slowly in the wind. Comparatively speaking, Reagan was in worse shape at this point in his first term. But the bottom line is this: It's always easier to rip down than to build up, and the American voter now has a hugely shorter attention span, thanks to a number of cultural changes, especially related to mass media. Thus, the destructo-bots in our political caste have an easier job these days.

Reagan could campaign for his second term despite a terrible economy on the call to "stay the course." Obama no longer has that option. Reagan could make sweeping changes in tax codes and social programs by pointing over and over again to Carter's economic and fiscal failures. Again, Obama has just been stripped of that option. It's HIS economy and will remain his, until things improve, at which point Republicans will claim credit though they may do little of benefit except to kick the fiscal can further down the road. Reagan only took responsibility for the economy after it returned to around six percent unemployment, and the punditocracy and news media and voters and third party institutions all end0rsed the claim.

The devil, Steve, is in the details, and in the changed political climate, where fear, uncertainty and doubt have replaced certaintude and faith in government -- at least temporarily.
Sympathetic contempt. (How's that for a shorter description?)