“Butch” Otter’s Dog and Pony Show (Opinion)
Years ago, I worked in a town where the Sheriff’s Department had a Ten Most Wanted list.
Now we’ve got State-of-Dog-Catching speeches, for crying out loud, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration.
Once a year, the Sheriff would call a news conference and run down the list for a gaggle of media types. After the first couple of names were reviewed, the remaining eight were usually guilty of overtime parking. Sensing it was mostly a non-story, I asked a friend in the Department why the dog-and-pony show? “Because the newspaper wanted it,” he replied.
It was a media generated event for the sake of the media. I get the impression it’s the same with State-of-the-State addresses. Nothing personal against Governor “Butch” Otter. I really like the guy and, for all the grousing I hear from even Republicans in Idaho, then I suggest you try and live three terms under a Cuomo, however. State-of-the-Union speeches are all showm but at least the President is trying to drive a national consensus. There were times when past Presidents simply mailed some goals to Capitol Hill, but now we need something for media to chew and again it’s done for the benefit of the talking heads. Now, we’ve got State-of-Dog-Catching speeches, for crying out loud, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration.
Yesterday I was listening to Governor Otter while driving. He would offer a few bromides and then applause. More bromides followed by applause. Is there a fellow being paid to turn the applause sign on every thirty seconds?
When I worked in news, we spent hours dissecting these speeches and I’m telling you it was mostly wasted time. I used to go to Albany when I lived in New York State and spend a couple of days listening to the address and then gathering legislative reaction. The Governor’s party told me how great it all was and the opposition called him a spendthrift. Irresponsible spending suited most people reporting the news. In a line of work dominated by liberals, the majority believe throwing money at problems is the only solution. Always. As I was driving yesterday, it occurred the Governor doesn’t really believe all the baloney he’s pitching. It’s for the benefit of a few newspapers with editors who still believe they’re influential. On the broadcast side, you get a few soundbites and can stop flogging snow stories for a couple of days. Otherwise it’s status quo.