Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Other than for the limited purposes of exposing Republican hypocrisy, Democrats should leave Schwarzenegger's skirt chasing, if that's all it is, out of the debate. And he has other problems.
"Every day seems to throw up a new twist in the race. Schwarzenegger received the presidential blessing at the weekend, but other fellow Republicans have since attacked him and criticized his lack of experience. It has also emerged that he supported Proposition 187, the 1994 measure that disqualified undocumented immigrants from access to public services. This is an inflammatory issue for many Latinos since the measure was aimed at them, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out, especially as Davis's deputy, Cruz Bustamante, is currently second in the polls and could pip Arnie at the post to become the first Latino governor for decades."
Thanks to someone on the job, I've become hooked on NY's West Indian radio station, WLIB, specifically the morning political talk show, "Politics Live." If you're not in New York, you can catch it on the web. A lot of the talk is obviously local, but goes into national and international news as well, and not only the cricket (or table tennis) scores in Jamaica or Trinidad. Politics also goes in and out during the day. One of the music DJ's made some smart, funny, and sad comments about Arnold Schwarzenegger and the political culture of the US. He began by saying how much respect he had for the US and for all that it allowed people to do who had come here with so little, but from there he went on for 3 or 4 minutes talking about the implications of the situation in California. He knew his audience and he knew that they were paying attention. And afterwards he went back to playing music. It was all smartly done.

Most of the political talk is obviously on Mark Riley's 'Politics Live.' Riley has some of the same guests you'd expect to hear on a Pacifica station, but WLIB it not WBAI. To begin with it has a large and socially conservative, and often christian, audience. It's a small station serving an ethnic community -which is similar but not identical to a political community- so it has to serve everyone. That's its strength. I heard Riley involved in a long discussion with a woman who was angry about the decision in the Episcopal Church regarding Gene Robinson. She was preaching at him and he was responding politely but a little incredulously to her efforts. Using her own conservative logic Riley asked her if there was a difference between homosexuality and adultery. "Yes!" she said. Riley implied that adultery was an ongoing problem in the West Indian community, but one that people tended to consider private. What was the difference? Riley wasn't disrespectful, and he didn't push her, but he made his opinions and his logic clear, if not to her than other members of his audience. I'm sure he's well ahead of the majority of them on gay rights, but that fact made his skill even more more evident. He doesn't equate homosexuality with adultery, and made the point that if not for the circumstances, Robinson's divorce should be considered more problematic than his sexual orientation. Riley then went on to describe the anxieties and doubts facing closeted homosexuals in such a way that even the decision to divorce became reasonable and moral. He used his opponent's logic against itself and against her without alienating his audience or insulting anyone. It was extremely smart, and that's why they listen. For all those left and right who get in arguments about judges and popular will, it's important to consider that systems of debate are only as flexible or inflexible as the minds of those who use them.

And of course on LIB I get to listen to Sparrow.

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