Friday, February 10, 2006

Paul Harvey

(45) Paul Harvey

There’s a lot of talk these days that radio commentator Paul Harvey may soon retire. This is bad news, even for us left wing whackos who think he’s a right-wing whacko even if of a gentler era than the current White House and Congressional crowds.

Yeah, Paul’s sounding kind of fragile these days. Doesn’t have the speaking punch he used to. But he’s still one of the two best broadcast writers who ever lived. (The other was Jess Zousmer at CBS, whom almost no one probably remembers.)

The guy can say more in fewer words than anyone else you ever heard. Even if you don’t like his “take” on life. Even if you think he’s a “farm boy” talking to hicks in the sticks, even if he comes off as some rube from Chicago or Kansas City. Even if you think his political view is Cro-Magnon.

There isn’t a broadcaster alive today who didn’t learn a little by listening to the way Harvey puts a sentence and a paragraph together.

But it’s not just that he writes well and delivers interestingly. He’s done something that no other human being was able to do.

He turned middle America against the war in Viet Nam.

Even Lyndon Johnson admitted that when he lost Paul Harvey’s support, he would soon loose the support of the American people. And he did.

The demonstrators may have set the stage. The protesters might have driven the point home. But it wasn’t until someone with what were (at the time) serious conservative credentials got on the bandwagon, that the tide really turned.

Kind of like Nixon opening China.

Or the Wall Street Journal taking on big tobacco.

Not much of that happens in a world that’s crazed by the fear of “unbalanced” reporting. Only Fox and Air America seem to have a firm grip on their own political leanings, though the latter admits it and the former pretends to have a serious case of denial.

How ineffectual we have become. How we have left commentary and analysis to the talk show hosts who are interested in nothing but selling commercial time, “entertaining” us and marketing themselves.

Sure Harvey sells a lot of radios and health potions and whatever else he’s advertising these days. And, yes, sometimes it’s hard to tell when the news ends, the commercial starts, the commercial ends and the news resumes. But so what.

If this dinosaur retires any time soon, we’ll all be the worse for it, regardless of our political persuasion or lack of it.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

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