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Guest Commentary

Reggie, the editorial, meets ALAS, the therapist

5/28/2014

When you deal day in and day out with daffy politics and scary politicians, you run the risk of becoming a bit confused yourself. Maybe that explains why many of us were puzzled by the bizarre Sunday Register (May 18) editorial endorsing State Senator/Colonel Joni Ernst as the paper’s choice for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in the November election.

Given the continuing changes in Register, maybe it is time for the paper to have a therapist available to readers and staff, just to help everyone sort things out. The therapist might have the acronym ALAS — to help those “A Little At Sea.”

For example, consider this conversation between the ALAS therapist and Reggie, the Hooray-for-Ernst editorial.

REGGIE: Thanks for seeing me; I’ve been a little at sea. I got into sort of uncharted waters because we usually don’t tell political parties whom to nominate. We endorse for the general elections, not primaries — yet I did that now because…I’m not sure why, although I did try to explain it.

ALAS: Well, when you do something different, sometimes it helps to bring along some of the old stuff. Like in an editorial endorsement, you say what your standards are, what would serve the public best, how the candidate measures up — something to provide a foundation and perspective, you know. And yet you left all that behind in writing about Colonel Ernst. Small wonder you’re troubled.

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REGGIE: Well, this is an important primary, and Iowa with the caucuses is the center of the political universe and…

ALAS: Wait a minute, let’s deal with one delusion at a time. The delusion I had in mind was your saying that Ernst has “impeccable credentials” to be the conservative choice for U.S. Senate. “Impeccable”? How does calling for the genital mutilation of anyone who disagrees with you qualify as “Impeccable”? What has happened to Iowa conservatism to warrant saying her credentials are “impeccable”?

REGGIE: OK, we did say her ad for castration of political rivals was “clever,” but it certainly has set her apart and shows the nature of the Republican party today.

ALAS: That’s sort of my point. The editorial could just as well have sounded a “Send in the Clowns” theme, pointing out that what used to be the fringe of a responsible Iowa GOP is now its essence, its raison d’etat. And again you should have dealt with what’s at stake for Iowa and the nation.

REGGIE: Don’t pull that French stuff on me. And we did deal with substance. When it comes to climate change, I pointed out that Ernst “talks about driving a hybrid car.” And I did note that she might possibly consider having Jews in the judiciary and that while she’s an absolutist she doesn’t seem inflexible.

ALAS: But she also wants to abolish the federal department of education, wants a flat tax and an unconditional reading of the Second Amendment. Do you endorse all that? Is that what the nation needs?

REGGIE: And next I suppose you’ll mention that I suggested she name one of her rivals for the nomination, Sam Clovis, as her chief policy adviser. He says there should be no exceptions to allow abortions, that corporate taxes should be cut to 10 percent — and you’ll wonder why I didn’t say if those are good ideas. Right?

ALAS: You seem to be catching my drift. And you barely mention what’s his name, you know the guy who’s been in the Senate forever.

REGGIE: Oh, you mean Tom Harkin. And I suppose you’re going to say I should have reviewed what Harkin has accomplished in his years and what it will take to measure up to him.

ALAS: Well, yes, something along those lines. That is what many readers would expect, and yet — in some ways — you can read the editorial on Ernst more as an indictment of her than an endorsement and, for that matter, an indictment of the Register, too. I think we’ll get together again, because you may have fashioned an albatross for the editorial page.

REGGIE: Alas.

ALAS: Yes? Is there something more you want to share?

REGGIE: No, I just meant, you know, alas. CV

Herb Strentz is a retired administrator and professor in the Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication and writes occasional columns for Cityview.                 

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