Sounds like 1998, on the OTHER radio station.
Dispatch from the Planet San Francisco, where one needn’t rely on cable news networks to feel the pulse of politics. Everything from walking the dog to shopping for groceries is a political act. A dose of political vibe is available just strolling into a café to buy a bagel in the morning.
It would be better, says the man stirring cream into his coffee as he awaits his bagel, to make the bagels here in the community, rather than trucking them in. Imported bagels send the community’s jobs and money elsewhere, and the trucks ruin the pavement. Do we need to guess where he stands on NAFTA?
This is the town where, for a short time in the 1990s, egg-throwing anti-SUV terrorists became underground heroes by stalking parked vehicles in the night, damaging countless paint jobs in an overt expression of hatred for conspicuous consumption. The public controversy arising over this destruction of property? Whether the egg-throwers were, indeed, justified.
Here, politics is served raw. So the Reasonable Reporter scans the San Francisco talk radio menu, on which, long before the advent of Air America, there existed robust outlets for all political points of view.
On this night, listeners to KGO’s Ray Taliaferro — arguably the hard left – are at full tilt bashing the Clintons. Not just Hillary, but Bill, and Chelsea, too, for her “none-of-your-business” response to a question from a college student about her father’s dalliance with Monica Lewinsky.
The talk show context is the Obama-Reverend Wright controversy, one clearly relished by the Clinton camp. The Clintons are pounded by caller after angry caller. These radio listeners, obvious Obama supporters, don’t like Hillary’s attitude toward Obama. But their outrage has a larger moral basis. This discussion is dominated by anger left over from the Clinton White House years.
“They embarrassed this country, and it’s time for them to get off the stage.”
“Hillary says ‘you can’t choose your relatives, but you can choose your minister.’ How dare she? She chose her husband, and then she turned a blind eye while he abused women.”
“Chelsea says it’s none of our business. What the President of the United States does in the oval office is our business.”
These are the approximate words of the callers, scrawled into a notebook as soon as the opportunity presented itself, so as to preserve them as faithfully as possible. Yikes. The Reasonable Reporter is having a flashback, in a Twilight Zone sort of way. Or maybe it’s true that if you live long enough, you hear everything.
The words of these callers, minus any references to Obama, could be lifted straight from tonight’s tape and dropped into a movie depicting talk radio, circa 1998. But it would be a movie about the other kind of talk radio. You know, the kind that carries Rush Limbaugh. These were almost precisely the words a decade ago of the callers to conservative talk radio.
In 1998, it was the right-wingers who decried the moral implications of Bill Clinton’s sexual behavior, with all its outward ripples affecting American dignity and equal protection in the workplace. Angry radio listeners from the left were outraged at the right’s outrage. In those days, they agreed with Chelsea. It was nobody’s business.
While tonight’s KGO radio listeners didn’t lament the use of presidential privilege as a tool to deny Paula Jones her day in court, the fat lady has not yet sung. Stranger things could occur, and well they might.