A Political Odyssey

by Doug Payton

Note: The following E-mail was sent to Pete Davis of News Radio WGST in Atlanta. Pete is generally a sportscaster, but has never been shy about his political beliefs. He did some political commentary on an earlier WGST Saturday morning show, and has substituted for other hosts on occasion. He now has a Saturday afternoon call-in show that will discuss politics almost as often as it will discuss sports.

I wrote this E-mail after his reaction to the INS seizure of Elian Gonzalez from his Miami relatives. The E-mail is not about that issue as much as it is about watching the changes in a most decidedly active liberal political animal during the Clinton administration.

Dear Pete,

I heard your Saturday call-in show on WGST on April 22nd, dealing with your disgust at the way the INS SWAT Team took Elian Gonzalez out of the Miami home he was living in. I couldn’t get a line to talk to you, as the line was always busy due to this being such a hot topic, so I thought I’d E-mail you about the changes I’ve heard in your political stance over the years. It’s been quite an interesting ride.

I first heard you express an opinion on politics in general on the (now defunct) "Saturday Morning Live" show. Back then, you had no love lost for conservatives in general, and Rush Limbaugh in particular. However, I remember one of your topics being the fact that very few people had reacted to your segments at all, and that you were surprised that apparently so many listeners were apathetic. However, those segments that I had heard were so full of name-calling and insults, and what facts you dealt with were so skewed or incomplete, that it didn’t seem worth getting worked up over. Limbaugh once noted that political satire and sarcasm, to have an effect, must have an element of truth in it, and to me (and apparently many others) yours didn’t really have that bite. There wasn’t enough truth in those segments to either get a point across, or at least rile those who disagreed with you. But you did make your location on the political spectrum very clear.

Some time later, you were hosting a call-in show in, I believe, a substitute capacity. The topic you covered that evening was a vote in a metro Atlanta county in support of the new Georgia state law requiring encoded fingerprints on the new driver’s licenses. It surprised and sickened you that all the Democrats voted for the fingerprinting and all the Republicans voted against it. It was your reaction of disgust at the Democrats that led me to believe you were seriously reconsidering your ties to the Democrat party. To me, those votes fell the way I would have expected them—Democrats voting for bigger and more intrusive government, and Republicans against. But you seemed genuinely surprised. From that point on, I really started to listen to you whenever you expressed a political opinion to see just how much you changed, and how much the Clinton administration’s actions were pushing you more and more away. And even though you voted for and supported Clinton, there were more and more instances where his behavior or that of his appointees & cronies bothered you. I began to wonder just when you might decided enough was enough.

Well apparently the events of the 22nd were enough for you, and rightly so. I hadn’t realized just how much of a political animal you were, and how you’d supported the Democrat part by working for them and supporting them through thick or thin. But hearing that made your transformation all the more remarkable, especially after hearing about all the times you’d forgiven Clinton for lying to you, and all the chances you gave him in your own mind to turn around. And to hear you advocate gun ownership so that people could defend themselves against government intrusion was truly astonishing.

Pete, let me be among the first to welcome you to those of us who agree with the Founding Fathers that government should be limited by the Constitution. Welcome to the group of us who understand that the Second Amendment was written to protect the people from the tyranny we witnessed that Saturday morning. Come on over and join those of us who have known all along that it’s -people- who make the world a better place, not government programs.

You said that you rarely agree with George Will on the issues, but that he nailed it when he talked about how insane this all was. I’d suggest that now, with the "rose-colored glasses" off, as you put it, you take a new look at George and Rush and Jeff Jacoby and all the others that you’ve certainly read and heard before in your occupation in broadcasting. I honestly don’t believe we’ll be seeing you sport a Ronald Reagan T-shirt anytime soon, but given your new-found understanding of the evils of big government, I think now you’ll find more to agree with than before.

Your political odyssey has been very interesting to watch. I hope it doesn’t end here. I believe it was Winston Churchill who, paraphrasing political pundits from centuries earlier, said, "If you’re not a liberal by the time you’re 20, you have no heart, and if you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 40, you have no brain."

Pete, this is your brain on Truth. Any questions?

Doug Payton

Return to "Consider This!"