The choices on the table.

I used to think that conservatives felt about Bill Clinton the way I felt about Ronald Reagan. Close, but no cigar. Now I think conservatives felt about Bill Clinton the way I feel about the current crop of GOP presidential contenders, but my contempt eclipses theirs by the white-hot fury of 10,000 suns. Or maybe eight suns, or however many of these clowns are running at the moment. They make Reagan look like Winston Churchill.

And I didn’t even watch the debate last night. Roy did, thank God: Tell me: are all of these things animated Ralph Steadman cartoons? I was more vexed by the appearance of Fred Thompson, announcing his candidacy for leader of the free world on the goddamn Tonight Show. If you didn’t already have the idea this man is an unserious, profoundly lazy lightweight, well, I don’t know how it could be any clearer. The viral-video crap, the I’m With Stupid fundraising, the wahl-I-guess-I-best-mosey-on-down-and-file-for-president public bullshitting — the fact this man is an instant top-three frontrunner says everything about the intellectually bankrupt GOP these days.

Doghouse Riley, Indianapolis resident, recounts an interview of Ol’ Bassetface by ex-Fort Wayner Karen Hensel, whom I know as a nice person, two-time Peabody winner, faithful Republican, and probably not NPR material, at least not with questions like this: Your producer from Law and Order said when you walk in the room people want to “stand and salute”. Is there anything similar between you and the tough guy we know from Law and Order? Yeesh.

Life is still in its post-summer transition of boredom, so not a lot to report today. The dryer’s fixed. Parts: $80. Husband who can disassemble an unfamiliar machine, repair, vacuum out 16 years of accumulated lint and reassemble it: Priceless.

If you’re in an environment where George Carlin’s language won’t offend anyone, here’s something I found while digging for that Thompson clip. Some of my best friends smoke cigars, but still: Amusing.

Finally, Bob Sievers died this week. That’s a name that won’t mean much to many of you, but to people from Indiana, it’s like hearing that the Pope finally checked out. Sievers was the host of a long-running morning show on WOWO, Fort Wayne’s booming clear-channel (note lower case, not the corporation) radio station. He and co-host Jay Gould ran “The Little Red Barn” about the way you’d expect — with an unbelievably cornball opening theme song, carried through as the framework of the show, Bob and Jay doing a radio show from the barn, feedin’ the chickens and settin’ on a hay bale to interview a county extension agent about long-term weather expectations vis-a-vis spring planting. However, it’s a measure of the sincerity and good humor both brought to the task that the show was simply irresistible. Years after teenagers and parents had separated into armed camps, each with their own morning radio shows, whole families were still tuned to WOWO during the Little Red Barn, peacefully enjoying two of the great radio voices of our age.

The station, now a fairly noxious all-talk format, has a tribute page up. Go there if only to experience the theme song, and stay for the Sievers interview, where you can get a sense of the Voice, diminished by age but still the Voice. (Bonus: A great Elvis story in there, too.)

I knew Bob a little, and can tell you he was everything he appeared to be on the air: An absolute charmer. He got fourscore and ten, and made every one count.

Posted at 8:37 am in Current events, Media |

24 responses to “The choices on the table.”

  1. brian stouder said on September 6, 2007 at 9:19 am

    We watched about 15 minutes of the GOP debate, including Ron Paul’s blast and Huckabee’s counter (I begin to think history is going to do a sideways repeat: the Arkansas governor is going to get the nomination, and a Clinton is going to win the presidency!), and then I must’a blacked out.

    Leaving that aside, and in keeping with the tiresome condescending tone of the self-righteous ‘reality based’ left, I bet the brave blogger ‘Doghouse Riley’ never got closer to Iraq than Shelby County, whereas Ms Hensel – who he compares to an overly-picky deli customer with racoon eyes – has been in country and down the dusty roads there.

    I, for one, hope that anytime ol’ Doghouse gets into any line anywhere, for anything, that his sorry ass is stuck behind some equally racoon-eyed, hyper-picky person who has paid even half as many dues as Ms Hensel has. (he might qualify to shine her over-priced shoes, or hold her designer bag, I suppose)

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  2. Laura said on September 6, 2007 at 9:21 am

    The leading presidential contenders on both sides are cowards when it comes to gay marriage. How disappointing.

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  3. Dave B. said on September 6, 2007 at 9:30 am

    I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s on a farm about 30 miles south of Ft. Wayne. All of our radios might as well not even have had a tuning dial because we only listened to the one station. During my 18 year tenure at home, I think mom and dad wore out three or four kitchen radios that never left the 1190 setting. The radio was turned on at 5AM when dad got up, and left on until mom went to bed in the evening.
    WOWO had many great broadcasting personalities over the years, but Bob Sievers was the king. I listened to him for many years…and by doing so I learned a lot about him. But, the one thing I never learned about Bob was his political persuasion. After hearing all of today’s “know it all gas bags” spewing political garbage day in and day out; well, Bob would sure be a breath of fresh air today. He will be missed by many.

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  4. Kirk said on September 6, 2007 at 9:39 am

    I’m not sure why, but I often used to listen to WOWO in the morning as I got ready to go to school in southern Ohio. I did like listening to radio stations that were farther away. Maybe I was hooked by the familiarity that Sievers’ show exuded.

    I can’t remember who it was, but I once met someone from WOWO when I lived in Van Wert, Ohio, and we were both covering an Earl Butz press conference outside of town. The WOWO guy was older (as in, about as old as I am now) and nice as could be. I remember thinking that the station must be full of friendly people.

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  5. Peter said on September 6, 2007 at 9:48 am

    I’m a lifelong Republican and if Fearless Leader doesn’t put the last nail in my political coffin these schmucks will.

    Years ago I worked on the John Anderson campaign, and before primary night in Wisconsin, we were cheering ourselves up by saying that there can’t be that many people who believe everything that numbskull Reagan is saying. Then we found out how wrong we were.

    When I was little, my Dad was really angry at the choices in one presidential election – “150 million people in this country and that’s the best we can come up for presidential candidates?” – and that was Kennedy and Nixon! I don’t care what you think of either of them, I think both of them are better than any of today’s candidates.

    So there. I’m calmer now.

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  6. brian stouder said on September 6, 2007 at 10:01 am

    If there was an internet in 1960, I think they’d have torn Nixon and Kennedy apart

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  7. Mark said on September 6, 2007 at 10:34 am

    Profile of Thompson in the LA Times today describes him as an underachieving layabout from the wrong side of the tracks who, as a teenager, impregnated a local girl who came from a prominent family of judges and lawyers. They married, and the girl’s family propped “Freddie” up and gave him a career — despite misgivings about his intellect and drive. They later divorced (after 26 years of marriage), both remarried, and Thomspon doesn’t talk much about her any more. But her family will support him because “we always have.”

    Key lines in the story: “He wasn’t born with his fierce drive, he married into it.”

    “…people here say he was an in-law-made man.”

    LA Times: Thompson wed his ambition

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  8. Danny said on September 6, 2007 at 11:21 am

    I watched a good bit of the debate on rerun. Huckabee’s stock is rising with me personally and Guiliani and Brownback did okay too. If McCain had his head screwed on straight with regard to enforcing the nation’s laws on illegal immigration, I’d like him.

    Ron Paul. I don’t know what to make of him. He seems so different than when he was a black drag queen on reality tv.

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  9. Julie Robinson said on September 6, 2007 at 11:52 am

    Didn’t watch the debate, too busy, was it on cable? We’re among the last holdouts. IMHO, the problem with our politicians is that they have to make so many compromises on the way up that their souls belong to others. Remember Student Council? They already had no soul, no imagination, no character; they just wanted power and fame. At least in my school.

    Bob Sievers and all the gang at WOWO were how I learned about my new home when I first came in 1979. It really was a community radio station. No one station could have that much impact today.

    I met Bob once at a talk he gave on his trip to the Holy Land. Not his best day, I think–it was mostly comments on the large number of stairs and his ailing knees. A sad way to go out, he should have stopped making public appearances if he was that cranky. So I’ll just remember the farm reports and the lost dogs and Penny Pitch and all the good he did.

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  10. Julie Robinson said on September 6, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Oh yes, I forgot–my husband was on a trip with a pal sometime in the mid-70’s and in Georgia at 3 am the only station they could pick up was WOWO. They found a payphone and called in to talk to Ron Gregory. Again–couldn’t happen today.

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  11. susank said on September 6, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    I grew up living across the street from the Sievers home on West Sherwood Terrace. When Bob was out walking his dog, EVERYBODY knew it! His booming voice carried up and down the street and you could hear every word of conversation he had with all the neighbors. He was such a nice man, as is his wife Harriet, and he truly did represent Fort Wayne and life in Indiana for many.

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  12. Jolene said on September 6, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    The clip of Thompson announcing on Leno is really something. Leaning back in his chair w/ his jacket hanging open, wearing an ill-fitting shirt, and saying, “I got something I want to talk to you about. I’m running for President.” Very inspiring.

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  13. Carolyn said on September 6, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    Nancy, You may not remember this, but I have a recollection that The Little Red Barn – early in each day’s show – would do police calls.
    Just like they do to this day in newsrooms.
    The banter went something like this:
    Van Wert dispatch
    Anything going on today?
    Nothing today, Bob
    OK, thanks

    And, of course, the hokey lyrics!

    In a little red barn on a farm down in Indiana,
    Let me lay my back on a stack of new mown hay.
    ‘Round the barnyard where the farmyard folks are pally,
    Let me dilly-dally all the live-long day.
    I’m a Hoosier who’s blue, thru and thru, and my heart is pining
    For the sycamore trees where the Wabash breezes play.
    What’s more, I’m pining for a yellow moon that’s shining
    On a little red barn on a farm down Indiana way.

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  14. Jeff said on September 6, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    Peter — My brother! I worked on the Indiana “John Anderson for President” committee, West Lay-flat office. Too bad we weren’t working for the “Jon Anderson for Prez” committee (a little “Yes” reference for the 70’s in all of us).

    Even with that background, i cannot imagine who will be the GOP nominee. Sure, most of y’all at nn.c will say that’s what we deserve for being nasty little R’s, but i think a passionate faith in federal localism will come in handy as gas moves past $7 a gallon and the economy wobbles into whatever the next century brings.

    John Anderson, meanwhile, teaches part-time at a Florida university.

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  15. basset said on September 6, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    I saw Rick Wakeman give a talk awhile back in which he described Jon as “the only person I know who’s trying to save the world while living on a different one…”

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  16. Mr. Right said on September 6, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    * unserious
    * profoundly lazy
    * bullshitting
    * intellectually bankrupt
    * bassetface

    Wowsers. All that measured insight into a candidate who has been running for less than 24 hours!

    Bookmarking this gem for future review when you express indignity at ad hominem attacks on the left. (They did teach you about ad hominem in J-school, right? It wasn’t a mail order degree? Just checkin’.)

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  17. Joe Kobiela said on September 7, 2007 at 12:24 am

    Mr Right,
    Welcome to the minority here at Ms.Nancy.
    Stop back often, Us poor Right wingers need all the help we can get. Just keep it friendly.

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  18. Joe Kobiela said on September 7, 2007 at 8:04 am

    My wife lived next door to Bob, her name was Patty, (no last name please) and remembers you. Said Bob was just great, small world.

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  19. harry near indy said on September 7, 2007 at 9:07 am

    i find karen hensel disgusting. her falsely-sincere tone of voice, the way she leans her head toward the camera/viewer, the way she’s moved her arm in a big gesture — that’s when her station sent her to iraq, iirc …

    i won’t say any more.

    for the record, she works for wish-tv, channel 8, out of indianapolis. boycott the station — or at least its news operation — as much as you can.

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  20. Danny said on September 7, 2007 at 9:16 am

    Mr. Right, pointing stuff out like that is just going to besmirch Nancy’s much-self-tauted “moderate” credentials. Please stop.

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  21. Ricardo said on September 8, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Fred Thompson was even more inspiring the day after the Leno announcement. He read a list of “values” to cowtow to the Christian Right with such little enthusiasm, I could hardly believe he is a professional actor.

    At least he can send out Joe Don Baker to help campaign. Most Americans won’t know the difference, I know I can’t tell them apart.

    Sorry, Fred, I am tired of my Great Leader having a southern accent.

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  22. ashley said on September 9, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Tom Tancredo is a fuckmook. Oh, and I think I saw Mitt Romney wearing a Michael Vick jersey.

    And Ricardo, the difference between Joe Don and Fred is Fred’s wife. Boy was it confusing watching Cape Fear.

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  23. RMM said on October 26, 2007 at 12:28 am

    I emailed Karen Hensel twice politely commending her for the success she has earned, and modestly requested an autographed photo of herself. My emails to her went unanswered, so I called Wish TV’s promotions department and requested one that was not autographed. I did receive it. I guess Hensel was either too busy, or had no inclination to act upon my requests. For the record, I received autographed pix of Debby Knox, Jeannie Crofts, Jen McGilvray and a few other nice gals at Wish TV after emailing them. Just because you pay someone a compliment doesnt always guarantee a nice reply. Thanks just the same, Hensel.

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  24. RMM said on October 26, 2007 at 12:31 am

    Ashley’s entitled to her opinion, but I don’t care for the obscene language anymore than I care for O’Bama, Clinton, John Mccain et. al.

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