Friday, April 16, 2004

THE END OF PARTISANSHIP? Well, no, but it's refreshing to see any move in that direction. When WMAL-AM in Washington dropped "Dr." Laura, one of my train-wreck favorites, I was too lazy to change my morning habits and I just kept turning the radio on at 10:30 or 11. The station replaced the doctor-who-isn't with a guy named Michael Graham.

Graham calls himself a "right-wing nut job" and never misses a chance to mention that he went to Oral Roberts University, but he's far from being a predictable conservative. As someone who has endured more than his share of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity (again, too lazy to touch that dial), I am fascinated by this.

Graham's topic one day was how it's ludicrous to say that atheists can't be good Americans. Another day it was how his fellow conservatives lose sight of their core values when it comes to law enforcement. The day after President Bush's news conference in which he said he couldn't come up with an example of a mistake he made, Graham devoted the show to harsh criticism of that non-answer. Limbaugh and Hannity have their token disagreements with the president on trade and immigration and government spending, but they're not about to give liberals the satisfaction of agreeing with them on any of Bush's faults when it comes to the really emotional issues. You just get the feeling that if Dubya slashed a baby's throat in the Rose Garden, Rush and Sean would say the kid had it coming -- or change the subject and say that at least Bush wasn't lying about blow jobs. (To be fair, I suppose you could argue that if Clinton had done the same thing, the far left would have applauded it as a bold step for abortion rights.)

Graham gets a little too libertarian for my tastes at times. Although he is passionate in his distaste for racism, he argues that private businesses in a free country should be allowed to discriminate on any basis they choose. He scoffs at laws saying that you can't talk on a cell phone while driving and that you have to turn on your headlights if it's raining. Like most conservatives, he seems to think the right to smoke is at least as basic as the right to breathe. But he's funny, provocative and interesting, and he's nobody's bitch.

In addition to his radio duties, he's the author of "Redneck Nation: How the South Really Won the War," which he talks about here.

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