2-26 Do You Ever Wonder Why...
By JAY MILLER
SANTA FE -- I keep having Andy Rooney moments lately. It's because of the news. I wonder why people obsess, overreact, obfuscate and sometimes act like old timers long before their time.
Let's start with old timers because we never know when they might leave us. Scooter Libby's trial defense is that he suffers from Oldtimers Disease. He forgets things easily, remembers them again and then remembers he never knew them in the first place.
That may sound odd to you youngsters, but to those of us pushing hard on 70, it's completely understandable. We do that sort of thing all the time.
The only thing that bothers me is that as an ink-stained opinion writer from out in the sticks, my forgetfulness doesn't do much harm. But as the top aide to the most powerful man on earth, Libby's forgetfulness makes me worry we could have a problem.
A guy named scooter, you'd expect to be at the top of his game, scampering around, tending to everything. Not many of us old guys are called scooter any more. But those who worked around him didn't seem to think it was a big deal at all. So I guess we're OK, but I do pity his early onset Oldtimers Disease.
And then there's our obsession with the seemingly trivial. As far as I can tell, Anna Nicole Smith never did anything to merit much attention. But recent events in her life -- and afterlife -- have taken over the news.
Granted, it better than the daytime soaps because this is true. Or perhaps I should say it's really happening. We have no idea what is true.
At least it brushed away the obsession with the poor astronaut who flipped. Rather than being concerned about her unfortunate psychological condition, the obsession was all about her wearing a diaper on her cross-country drive.
It's obvious the news isn't geared toward us seniors. We don't see anything particularly odd about diapers on a long drive. We use fancier names for them, but that's about it. Astronauts also use them on space flights, so wearing them on a road trip shouldn't be too shocking.
And that obsession muscled out full time coverage of Sen. Joe Biden's shocking use of the word "clean" in reference to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's mysterious reference to dealing with evil men.
I blame 24-hour news channels for most of the obsessing. They are desperate for anything they think might tickle our fancy -- and boost their ratings.
But they can't be blamed for much of the overreacting that takes place. The worst case was in Boston, where police went into full battle mode when they found electronic gadgets out on the streets around town.
Turns out, it was an advertising stunt that already had been conducted in 10 other big cities around the nation without those police forces going into shock. The company has offered $1 million to cover expenses the cops ran up getting ready to fight World War III. Boston police deserve to be the laughing stock of police nationwide.
The astronaut incident also involved some overreacting when it was termed another major setback for NASA. It was nothing of the sort. The most elite group of people in the world can contain someone who snaps. Our concern should be for the individuals involved, not for the program.
And that brings us to obfuscation. Pollsters report that respondents will tell them that they have no problem voting for a president who is female, Black, Hispanic or Mormon. But the pollsters report they know some of these same people will go into voting booths and do otherwise.
Pollsters also tell us that an overwhelming number of people say they are turned off by negative campaigning. But statistics show that candidates who do the most negative campaigning are the most likely to win.
TV viewers also say they don't like the negativity of American Idol, but it is so far ahead of every other program, it isn't even a race.
JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail) firstname.lastname@example.org