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September 21, 2004

Barber shop talk

Sitting in the barber's chair the other day, I began thinking of diversions to keep the conversation from drifting into the murky world of political gossip, the kind that seems to have infected the national races this year even more than usual. Thankfully, the lady who cuts my hair did not choose to go there, but the subject was unavoidable.

"Wonder what's going to happen to Dan Rather," one of us said. The big topic of conversation that day was the apparent booboo and subsequent malodor created by the CBS-TV newsman in his "expose" of damaging records involving the U.S. commander in chief, Mr. George W. Bush, now a candidate for reelection as President. By then, it was generally assumed that Mr. Rather had screwed up and Mr. Bush was being wrongfully accused of avoiding military service in the Vietnam unpleasantness, about 30 years ago. The jury is still out on that one, but at that point it did appear that Mr. Rather had failed to verify the basis of his big "'scoop." In doing so, he had overlooked a major journalistic principle, almost equal in the importance to the five W's-who, what, when, where and why.

We skirmished on that topic for a few minutes, but quickly moved on to more important topics, like the success of the new emphasis on cleaning up the town. We agreed that the cleanup is having an effect and we both hoped the work will continue.

And so it goes in Perry America as we approach the brink of another national election to choose our President for the next four years. It gives us an interesting contrast to the way things are being done in the former Soviet Union, and in Iran, and in other places where the public interest is at stake in different ways.

Isnít it surprising, sometimes, to think how much freedom we enjoy and take for granted, until something like this comes along to capture our attention? Give thanks for what we have and do your personal duty when Election Day comes up. Just remember how distressing your barbershop conversation might be if we lived somewhere else.