This week, WPRI-TV followed through on its boneheaded decision to exclude independent Congressional candidate Abel Collins from a debate featuring Congressman James Langevin and Republican challenger Michael "Who he?" Riley.
Collins staged a protest with about 40 supporters outside the station. Evidently, WPRI management agreed to speak only to Collins, offering what a member of his campaign team called "total b.s." excuses for keeping him out of the debate.
The protest came after Collins collected hundreds of signatures on a petition demanding that the empty suits in charge of this Mickey Mouse station include the independent candidate in the debate.
This censoring of a candidate for no justifiable reason gives everyone at Channel 12 a black eye. Management's explanation that it was an "editorial decision" was no explanation at all. And moderator Tim White — the soldier following his superiors' orders — reveals himself to be something less than a crusading defender of journalistic freedom.
WPRI — any surprise that it has an affiliation with Fox News, that bastion of media free thinking? — is simply beneath contempt here. It might not be a bad idea for the advertisers supporting this TV farrago to take their business elsewhere.
And Langevin and Riley should be ashamed of themselves for participating — especially Langevin, a wheelchair user who has doubtless faced his share of discrimination. Going along with WPRI's heavy-handed dismissal of a legitimate candidate may help the Congressman win re-election, but he has to look himself in the mirror every morning.
Sad, anti-American, and too typical of Little Rhody politics. As the old saying goes, if everyone associated with WPRI's decision was shoved into a giant trash bag and you swung a baseball bat, you'd connect with someone who deserved it.
LIFE OF RILEY
And now a word on Riley, the GOP candidate.
This is a guy who has in the recent past baited Tom Sgouros, a veteran policy analyst and former candidate for treasurer, by calling him a Communist. Not the most politic of fellows.
Indeed, we've got to give manic Mike a tip of the sombrero for running one of the stupidest campaigns ever for a major office in the Biggest Little. His anti-Langevin TV and radio spots harp on the "$20 million" that Congressman Langevin has received from taxpayers and "special interests" over the years.
Might that be the sum of Mr. Langevin and his staff's salaries and the donations made to his campaign? Is this an "issue?" It also seems that Riley holds Langevin personally responsible for high gas prices, the national debt, and high unemployment. Wethinks the blame might be spread a bit further, in bipartisan fashion.
A QUICK LOOK BACK
When Phillipe & Jorge were born, everything was looking up.
Just prior, the wartime economy had allowed the US of A to dig itself out of the Great Depression. And in 1944, President Roosevelt had signed the GI Bill, a stroke of genius that allowed those who served in the military during the war to qualify for low-cost mortgages and college tuition.
In 1948, President Truman signed the Marshall Plan into law, pouring billions of dollars into rebuilding war torn Europe (and stifling Communist encroachment).
These were far-sighted policies that catapulted the United States into its position as leader of the free world and set us on a path towards further progress and prosperity. And when black GIs returning from the war found things hadn't changed much — Jim Crow laws still in effect in the South, segregation at the Strand Theater in downtown Providence, and a thousand other indignities — the civil rights movement took off.
Your superior correspondents would argue that from the end of World War II until the late '70s, opportunities for most Americans expanded. And here's the point: this was a time when our country's leaders were, certainly by today's standards, "liberal": FDR, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon (yes, Nixon — check out his domestic policy ideas or, better yet, read Steven Ambrose's three-volume biography of the man), Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter — none of these guys would qualify as "conservatives" by today's lights.
We would suggest that Mitt Romney would probably be one of them if he weren't scared shitless of the Tea Party crazies and Christian fundamentalists running his party.
So four weeks from now, when you're deciding who to vote for, look at where we are and how we got there: the good, the bad, and the ugly. In our estimation, the rightward lurch of the past 30-plus years has not exactly continued the prosperity for all.
Things looked as bleak back in 1940 as they do today, but we pulled out of it and helped build a more promising world. We can do it again if we choose wisely.