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Columns

April 7, 2012

It’s not easy for a politics junkie to get off the stuff

One of the curious things about being a politics junkie is that in any given election year I become even more of a social pariah than usual.

I’ll admit that my fervid exclamations about the previous evening’s Republican primary or the latest poll numbers have on occasion been accompanied by grasping the lapels of people I think might be my friends lest they get away.

This has engendered the phenomenon of acquaintances hurriedly crossing the street when they see me coming in the opposite direction, and the wearing of disguises by colleagues to avoid me at the office.

All very understandable, I suppose, although I do take exception to threats to “call a cop” unless I leave them the (fill in your own expletive here) alone.

Every once in a while, however, I run into a kindred spirit or two who is as fascinated with the minutiae of the current campaign as I am. It doesn’t matter if their views are 180 degrees different than mine. They listen. They argue. They know stuff. We are not related by birth, but they are my brothers and sisters.

Actually, truth be told, very few of them are my sisters. Men, it seems, tend to be more willing to engage me in political conversation. I don’t know why, but perhaps my whole grabbing of lapels thing has something to do with women avoiding me.

For the few, the proud, the ones paying attention so you don’t have to, I’ve thoughtfully put together just a few preliminary observations.

• The primaries have shown that Mitt Romney has had a hard time getting the votes of far-right wing Republicans because he still speaks conservative with a liberal accent.

• The previous paragraph doesn’t really matter because those very conservative Republicans would crawl on broken glass if they had to in order to vote for anybody against President Barack Obama, such is their visceral disdain for the man.

• I’ve noticed a regrettable blurring of the roles of cable talk show hosts. Everybody knows Fox News’ Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly are going to cheerlead for Republicans, and it’s common knowledge that over at MSNBC, Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow will be waving their pompoms for Democrats.

But it’s beyond uncomfortable to see Sharpton leading rallies in Florida in the Trayvon Martin situation, and Schultz the focal point of union gatherings in Wisconsin.

Either report the news, guys, or make it. You shouldn’t be doing both.

• Amid all the posturing and demagoguery we’ve seen by members of Congress was a refreshing act of political courage last month by Rep. Richard Hanna.

Hanna was the only Republican congressman to show up at a March rally for the Equal Rights Amendment. His brave suggestion was that those attending should give money to candidates of both parties who support their views.

Hanna, a strong fiscal Republican who voted for the Paul Ryan budget bill that Democrats abhor, was one of only seven Republicans to vote against an amendment that would have cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

Otsego County is losing Hanna as a representative in the new redistricting. It’s a shame. It’s also a shame that there aren’t a hundred more centrist members of Congress _ in both parties _ who, like Hanna, care about their country more than they do their party.

• By far the biggest political _ and financial _ scam of this election is being perpetrated by the National Rifle Association.

Before and after President Obama was elected in 2008, the NRA told its followers that he would take away their guns and bullets. That nonsense caused record gun sales and The Great United States Ammunition Shortage of 2008-2010. The NRA got folks so worked up and hoarding ammunition that you couldn’t find a bullet for a lot of small arms in gun shops.

Want to know how many guns and bullets the Obama administration has taken away from lawful gun owners over the last three or so years? Zero. None. Zilch.

But that hasn’t stopped NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre from scaring folks again.

“It’s all part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and destroy the Second Amendment in our country,” LaPierre warns with a straight face.

The scam to sell more guns and ammunition is obviously working again. My friend Chuck Pinkey, The Daily Star’s local conservative columnist, informs me that gun-maker Sturm Ruger & Co. reported such strong first-quarter business this year that the company is temporarily suspending new orders.

Shun me if you must, but I’ll be back with still more canny political observations. There are seven wonderful months to go before Election Day. Isn’t it glorious?

SAM POLLAK is the editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at spollak@thedailystar.com or at (607) 432-1000, ext. 208. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/sampollak.

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