Just the facts ma’am

Wednesday, October 24, 2012
As I look out the window at some of the most peaceful resident in West Branch, the flock of sheep grazing across the street, my thoughts drifted back in idyllic memory of a childhood growing up in another small town where for good or bad everyone knew everyone else’s business.

On a human scale folks were as tightly bunched as yonder flock of sheep and if one head shot up soon all others followed and if anyone didn’t like what he or she saw they could lump it or leave it – few ever departed for good and never to be remembered was everyone in panic heading for them thar hills.

Suffice it to say that most were contented as them thar sheep.

But was it perfect? No, the good old days are just comparatively remembered that way – at least it seems so if you now live in a small town where more people know your dog than you. And though Blanca ought to be willing, there is no need to get into who is liked better or at all.

But even way-back-when in that town of long ago on a few occasions, though rarely, it could be said, “Ya got trouble, my friend, right here. I say trouble right here in River City.” And like here-and-now, back then we just had a creek, but it could flow high with some discontentment.

However, the local paper, the Journal-Tribune, never came close to letting loose with the volume spewed forth this week in the West Branch Times, Saturday Press-Citizen and one might assume in other area newspapers involving the Bobby Kaufmann-Dick Schwab election. It was a deluge of such proportions to suggest the second coming, but of Noah’s flood. And this one has to do with reputing the character of the two candidates competing to stand in representation of who we are in this small section of Iowa.

Oh, we got issues and among them the most important is the comparative character of the two candidates as reflected in their personal track records of who they are as established by what they have actually done up to now.

There is no more important an issue as other issues come and go. Family, friends, relatives, chums and others supporters can characterize one candidate or the other to their hearts content, but as Detective Sergeant Joe Friday in old episodes of “Dragnet” was wont to say, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

American elections are a public vetting of the facts. To suggest otherwise is frivolous pretense that unwittingly transposes into political reality the fiction that competing candidates meeting at the start of a their campaign for office and entering into the kind of secret pact portrayed in a mobster movie in which two Mafiosi thugs stand in a dark alley and in blood-oath collude, “You don’t rat me out, and I don’t rat on you.”

All that is needed here are just the facts and the electorate is quite capable of drawing characterizations for themselves. As in old black-and-white TV, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

Sam Osborne

West Branch

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