By G. Michael Dobbs
With the Senatorial election looming, it's interesting to note that this is an era in which candidates try to stretch their campaign dollars, when lip service is given to "getting out the vote" and there are supposed competitions between challengers on whom is the most "transparent."
The Markey-Gomez "slap-fest" has continued a trend from the Brown-Warren contest. The proof is in the number of times a candidate is willing to sit down with the press and speak.
An interview is the cheapest form of political advertising. It is certainly "transparent," and it used to be a key component of motivating your base or changing some minds.
It has always been a risky proposition, though. A reporter, editor or publisher could slant a story. There could be misquoting. These problems are quickly addressed in the digital age. Campaign workers regularly record interviews to insure accuracy of stories.
The problem remains that a challenging question could be asked, accompanied by a more probing follow-up question.
Even so, for generations politicians have taken the risk because showing that one was willing to be questioned spoke to character. That's why candidates would request time with reporters and editors.
I used to receive those requests, but in the last two Senate races no one has shown any interest. So I've asked and received no response.
I was very interested in Gabriel Gomez, but his people weren't interested in me.
And it's not just yours truly. Other reporters have told me the same thing. Neither candidate actually wants to sit down and spend a few minutes answering questions.
Posting videos to YouTube is something much safer. Gomez has a bunch of them and so does Markey. You can control the message and manage the conversation.
This has nothing to do with being a Democrat or a Republican. It has everything to do with a style of campaigning and whether or not a candidate is willing to show the courage of his or her convictions by talking with a reporter and going on the record.
Our recent batch of candidates hasn't shown much inclination for doing that.
A book suggestion
I brought two books with me to Scotland and thanks to not having a television, I actually got to read them when I wasn't doing something else. One was a wonderful book by Bill Bryson called "A Walk in the Woods," while the other was something more academic sounding, "Shay's Rebellion: the American Revolution's Final Battle" by Leonard Richards.
I've been fascinated by the story of Daniel Shays and other like-minded patriots who from 1786 to 1789 waged what was seen for many years as an unsuccessful revolt against the state of Massachusetts, protesting the inequities between eastern and western Massachusetts.
The reaction to the efforts led by Shays and Luke Day of West Springfield was ultimately the Constitutional Convention and the adoption of our Constitution and the replacement of the Articles of Confederation.
One might say – and I will – that Shays and Day and their men were as much the fathers of the Constitution as the men who wrote the document. If they had not taken the actions that they did, including an unsuccessful raid on the federal arsenal where the armory now stands, what would our country have looked like?
It may not be a "beach book" – there is nary a sex scene or a murder in it – but this book is a great read in the current political climate.
Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.