Friday, June 21, 2013

Love And Respect

Working in the media - and especially in national or international media - there's a certain mystique, a type of near-immortality we occasionally experience when we meet and talk with those who enjoy our work. In general, it isn't something members of our staff truly enjoy - though we do know people who crave it.

Like so many members of the Republican Party right now, those people who love fame are often desperate to have people like them, no matter how silly, stupid, or offensively they act. We admit - we're just as mortal as anyone else - a fact we've been reminded of heavily this week, as a handful of well-known media figures died.

From the Broadway, TV, and film actor James Gandolfini, to the intense and direct journalist Michael Hastings; from the legendary country musician Slim Whitman, to former Rolling Stone writer and CMT executive Chet Flippo, to Nebraska Public Radio music director and host Bill Stibor.

Each of these individuals were amazing people, and all of them were individuals we'd had direct contact with, or that we know some of you, our readers, had regular contact with.

For all of the TV and radio moments, and incredible journalism these members of the media provided, one of the most interesting things we noticed as we looked at this group was that each member was also like our own staffers, in that they didn't crave fame. It's incredibly obvious that each one of them simply wanted to practice their craft at the highest level, to become the best at doing what they loved.

While we'd never want to trade the creative efforts of any of those individuals, we can only imagine what kind of federal government we'd have if the men and woman in Congress - and especially in the U.S. House of Representatives - had even one-tenth the commitment to excellence that this group of recently passed media professionals held every day of their lives.

That lack of committment was blindingly evident on Thursday in the abject failure of House Speaker John Boehner to keep the extremist fanatics in his Republican caucus in-line. That was when the latest House version of the Farm Bill failed spectacularly, just before the House left for another long weekend. In short, this version of the Farm Bill died because Republican extremists insisted that poor people on food stamps needed to give up all government food support, so that massive corporate agribusiness would get to keep most of their multi-billion dollar subsidies.

As former House Speaker and current Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said after Republicans cannibalized their own bill, "It's silly. It's sad. It's juvenile. It's unprofessional. It's amateur hour." On that, we can not disagree with Congresswoman Pelosi one bit.

It's easy to see why so many efforts in Congress fail these days, on both sides of the aisle, and in all kinds of committees. Far too often our politicians today seem desperate for the kind of fame, love, and respect our five media professionals had all earned in their respective careers.

The best don't primarily crave fame or love. They just do what they do better than anyone else, like those media professionals who passed away this week.

Those individuals earned our respect.

We only wish Congress would try to do the same, for once.

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