Note to feds: MYOB

September 07, 1998|By Tom D'Antoni

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is irrelevant! Stay out of my business, Washington.

Did I just say that? Me? The guy who used to watch BOTH C-SPAN channels simultaneously? Read all the pundits religiously? Wouldn't miss all the Sunday morning talk shows? What happened to the guy who voted for all those people who wanted the feds to fix things?

Was it just because I spent most of my life in Baltimore, minutes away from the Capitol? Maybe the proximity to where the action is made me feel a part of it, and therefore more supportive. Perhaps the heat radiating from the geopolitical center of the universe produced empathy in me, or at least fandom.

Then I moved to Portland, Ore., about a year ago.

There was no buzz here.

People paid more attention to the salmon count in the STATE of Washington than they did to Washington, D.C.

C-SPAN deficit

My first hint of this difference struck me after I looked at the cable television listings: my cable system carried only one C-SPAN channel, and The Oregonian, the major daily newspaper, wasn't carrying thousands of words per day on Washington news. And you couldn't get the Washington Post anywhere.

During an interview on my radio talk show, I asked Bill Thomas, editor of Capitol Style magazine in Washington, D.C., to rate the Oregon congressional delegation. He couldn't, really; there just wasn't much to say about them since Republican Sen. Bob Packwood left. Oregon was one of those, you know, "good government states."

Relatively few listeners called. Nobody was interested.

Then, when Zippergate broke, and we scandal junkies leapt upon it. I was berated by several friends, accusing me, as a member of the media, of spending too much time on it, TWO DAYS after the story broke. They didn't blame Bill, Monica, Ken or Linda. They blamed me for dwelling on a story they just didn't care about. Oh, I had lots of calls the first week, but by the third week of the scandal, I couldn't buy a call.

Monica and Bill and Hillary and Ken just didn't amount to much of a ripple in the Great Northwest. Why? These are things that happen there. To them. They don't really have much to do with my life. And I began to think, well, no . . . they don't do they?

But get in our way, and look out.

Landmark legislation

Oregon voters have twice passed landmark assisted-suicide legislation, or death-with-dignity law. It allows terminally ill people, with the corroboration of two doctors, to request a prescription for medication that will end life. Most of the people here are satisfied with the law. It passed comfortably last fall after having been put back on the ballot by a meddling Republican legislature.

And now those . . . those FEDS in Washington are trying to negate the will of the people.

For the first time since they wanted to put me in a uniform and send me to Vietnam, I feel the need for the federal government to keep out of my business. Odd, too, that it's the Republicans who are extending this particular arm of the government octopus and trying to squeeze the life out of the death-with-dignity law.

Who'd a thunk it? Here I am, a lifelong lefty, siding with my Oregon buds, and standing up against the power of the federal government. Did I pass through some kind of looking glass when I crossed the Continental Divide?

P.S., I don't watch C-SPAN anymore, either.

Tom D'Antoni is a radio and television producer.

Pub Date: 9/07/98

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