A.C. Snow

Pesky press vs. thin-skin president – Snow

During the current campaign for president, we are repeatedly told by the talking heads that ours is a nation of angry people, which accounts for much of the campaign’s firebrand rhetoric and general animosity.

When I commented on that to my wife, she said, “People feel like Templeton, the rat, in ‘Charlotte’s Web.’”

She then fetched E.B. White’s children’s classic that is permeated with wisdom for all ages and civilizations.

In the scene she cited, Templeton, planning to go with Charlotte and Wilbur to the fair, says, “kindly remember that I’m hiding down here in this crate and I don’t want to be stepped on, or kicked in the face, or pummeled or crushed in any way, or squashed, or buffeted about, or bruised or lacerated or scarred or biffed. Just watch what you’re doing!”

Such is the mood of the electorate as we nudge our way toward November.

The news media has much to do with molding the national temperament.

Once at a newspaper convention, one of the speakers noted with pride, and tongue in cheek, that the media is one of the few professions mentioned in the Bible.

He cited Luke 19 that describes how “Zacchaeus wanted to see who Jesus was but could not for the press,” and was obliged to climb a sycamore tree for a better view.

I’m sure that some of you have attended public events at which you couldn’t see for the press moving about, setting up cameras, etc.

After watching a recent heated exchange between reporters and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, I tried to imagine what kind of pyrotechnics will ensue when and if the press and, possibly, a President Trump go at each other during White House press conferences.

Traditionally, the two entities have treated each other with at least a modicum of respect .

One exception was the set-to when former CBS news anchor Dan Rather, questioning President George (the younger) Bush over his National Guard service during the Vietnam War, “sassed” the president. The incident set off a brush fire of public criticism that ultimately led to Rather’s untimely resignation.

President Herbert Hoover did not suffer the press lightly. He kept members pretty much at bay by requiring that press conference questions be submitted in advance.

Nevertheless, at one point the frustrated president declared, “The President of the United States will not stand and be questioned like a chicken thief by men whose names he does not even know.”

Undoubtedly there are and have been many presidents or presidential aspirants greatly tempted to say the same to a persistent, and sometimes pesky press committed to doing its job effectively.

Chicken and possum

Speaking of the clergy, as we were on a recent Sunday, our minister at Edenton Street United Methodist Church is retiring after 38 years in the pulpit.

One of the Rev. Ned Hill’s many attributes is his abiding sense of humor.

In an e-mail exchange, he wrote, “In modern times, clergy are often portrayed as buffoons, shysters, and/or charlatans. I am always grateful for those people willing to acknowledge that there are some clergy among us who, if not worth their weight in gold, are worth their weight in fried chicken. So we lift our glasses to them.”

Preachers could do worse then chicken. In earlier times, the entree might well have been squirrel or possum.

Speaking of the latter, Ed Thomas of Durham specifically recommended one of his favorites, “Five Pounds of Possum.”

Intrigued by the title, I checked the song out on the Internet, where it’s credited to songwriter Tim White. I’ve never heard the tune, but I truly like the lyrics:

My children are hungry, my dog needs a bone.

I’m out of a job now, so I’m just drivin’ home.

An hour after sundown, when what to my delight,

There’s five pounds of possum in my headlights tonight.

Won’t have to clean no chicken, won’t have to open no cans.

Just a little bit closer, and I’ll have him in my hands.

I think the time has come now, to go from “dim” to “bright.”

There’s five pounds of possum in my headlights tonight.

Snow: 919-836-5636; asnow@newsobserver.com

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