Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Quote of the Day (Paul Harvey, on Presidents)

“White House occupants come and go. They are just like diapers. They should be changed often, and for the same reasons.”—Radio legend Paul Harvey (1918-2009), quoted in Robert D. McFadden, “Paul Harvey, Homespun Radio Voice of Middle America, Is Dead at 90,” The New York Times, March 2, 2009

Over the years I only heard Harvey, who died Saturday, a few times on the air. I can’t say that I agreed with many of his political positions. But he had a knack for picking offbeat stories, and his comments—like the one above—could be as finely cut as a jeweler’s.

A commentator 10 years ago, Marc Fisher, writing in the Washington Journalism Review, labeled him “a bridge to the new era of radio talkers, people such as Rush Limbaugh, Don Imus, Howard Stern and countless others,” but these comparisons are meaningless—he had no interest in leading any political movement and even less in raunch.

If Harvey was a bridge to a new era, it was to the age of blogging—one that, likewise, placed a premium on creators’ personalized views of the world. But then, on the blog, we would, inevitably, miss that voice—that rat-a-tat-tat delivery, punctuated by those Pinteresque pauses that really pushed the limits of dead air on the radio as far as they would go.

It was the voice coming from Middle America to you and me.

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