Scene In Passing: Boob tube infotainers offer white lightnin’

All politics is local. Still. They sure are. Is or are?

Whichever. It’s/they’re local despite what dimwits think.

The observation politics is local, a truism made famous by the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill. ain’t antiquated horsepucky of bygone days. Some observers on the national infotainment platform called television would have you believe O’Neill’s observation is old hat. But such mush-mongers are captive to the hammer syndrome. You know how it goes.

If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you’re a national persona, it’s all national and you’re an empty suit behind the facade. If you aspire to national pretensions, you’re a pretender of epic yet hollow proportions.

“We call them twinkies,” said Linda Ellerbee, a television news reporter who did her apprenticeship at Associated Press before taking a flier on in-depth TV reporting (lots of luck). Nobody’s fool, Ellerbee was willing to upbraid semi-wit colleagues of tube city. “You’ve seen them on television acting the news, modeling and fracturing the news, while you wonder whether they’ve read the news — or if they’ve blow-dried their brains, too.”

The latest blow-dried, brainless blast is the young and the restless boob box vidiocy in which cupid-like commentators claim local and state elections are being nationalized. A prime example is the howler the tea party Republican winner of the Kentucky governor’s race Tuesday won due to a nationalized campaign, made so because the ACA (Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare) was involved.

On one nationally televised cable show a moderator interviewed a Louisville print journalist by asking questions laced with the premise the ACA was at the heart of things in the bluegrass state, yet the local newsman (who actually spent time covering the race) said issues regarding coal in Kentucky were more significant. The local truism barely reached her radar screen. And anyway, Obamacare aside, what’s more local than health care?

Local doctor, nurses, clinics, hospitals are the norm. The ACA is a state-by-state imposition overlaid by the federal government’s experiment impacting people where they live. It’s about insurance angst, not health care.

But if you’re a national news reader/commentator who never covered a local city council, disaster, sporting event, labor/management dispute, or even a local health scare — and you think the Volstead Act was only about booze or the Civil War was solely about slavery — it’s unlikely you have a clue all politics must remain local.

The three qualifications for being a TV airhead are a bit like that old real estate maxim about “location, location, location.” In the TV talking heads realm, it’s not about research or critical thinking. It’s, “me, myself and I.”

The reason all politics stay local is obvious. This nation/state is a mental construct, a concept, a Lego-like edifice, an erector set ploy built and billed as a federal system. The important building blocks are people, businesses, organizations, neighborhoods, cities, counties, states. This nation is called the United States of America for a reason. Where we live is where we are.

It’s where something other than empty rhetoric happens. All politics is local because real life is local. We’re in Carson City, Reno, Las Vegas, Sacramento, New York City, Washington, D.C. Wherever you are is unavoidable. H. L. Mencken, a trusted columnist/adviser from yesteryear, nailed it: “We are here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine.”

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at


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