Palace and Heartland

I watched my brethren in the media pivot on a dime from the Russia conspiracy story to the issue of health care, as the Department of Justice moved to abolish Obamacare through a federal judge in Fort Worth.

At that point, I was glad for a respite from the prosecutorial hysteria around the investigation of connections between Russia and the Trump campaign.

And it seems that Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats were pleased as punch with a topic shift that landed with two feet on the board they used to surf the blue wave.

But the Democrats are a fractious bunch and the press appears addicted to the investigation. I heard an editor from Politico say that some members of Congress could not let go of the investigation for “emotional reasons.”

And it struck a nerve. Because it seems that no one wants to or can let it go, within the major parties and within the media.

The very next day television news shows and print publications swung back to speculation about what might be in the report, why there had been no finding of a conspiracy and fine distinctions in a partisan-edited summary of Mueller’s report between crime and obstruction.

And on the flip side, the radical right in Congress also wants to keep the issue alive with a counter-inquisition of those who were a bit quick to declare guilt on the part of the president and his crew.

Far away from the palaces of Washington, out in the heartland, there is a campaign going on.

What drums are they beating, what issues are they banging on? Many people would like to know. 

As I write, for example, Beto O’Rourke is planning to kick off his campaign in El Paso this weekend and lay down his platform planks.

But already they are being misinterpreted. I heard a TV reporter on a non-Fox channel say Beto was for “open borders.”

That would be a killer. It is also false.

In fact, O’Rourke is opposed to the border wall and in favor of a pathway to citizenship. His past positions on other key issues are moderate – in support of expanded health care, emphasizing the cost climate change itself, stricter gun control laws and critical of trade tariffs.

His Twitter feed on the other hand is pretty pathetic. His most recent posting is from mid-December. It concerned a town hall for veterans’ issues.

Kamala Harris is another candidate who generates enthusiasm, although her tenure as attorney general in California would suggest a stay-the-course, conservative candidate in practice if not in pronouncements.

Her Twitter feed, in contrast to O’Rourke’s, is timely and informative. Her staff has posted an article from the same day in Politico where Steve Bannon predicts an O’Rourke-Harris ticket.

Bannon is a tricky character and any reader has to question whether he is making such a prediction only because he thinks the ticket will set up nicely for attacks from the Republican side.

The Twitter site for the other top contender, Joe Biden, befits the bland character of the politician. It is timely but leads with three tweets supporting women’s issues, and moves to the fight against cancer and a condemnation of racial and religious bias.

In discussing coverage of Beto’s El Paso rally with our southern bureau chief, she predicted a race ultimately between Beto and Biden for the Democractic nomination. Not a bad prediction.

And although it is a distant hope, the national media may and should shift some attention away from the palace intrigues of Washington to the race through the heartland that will decide the course of the nation.

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