WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The campaign trail has been cluttered with such fantasticos as Sen. John Pierre Kerry, Dr. Howard Dean, Generalissimo Wesley Clark and the Rev Al Sharpton. Now I, too, have had to venture onto the campaign trail, but a more civilized trail it is.
With the publication of my cheerful little tome on the junior senator from New York, "Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House," I am on what might be called the literary campaign trail, booming the book's merits hither and yon. That means many appearances on broadcast media, especially talk radio. The exercise is doubly rewarding, for it provides me with a vivid glimpse into America. Talk radio has studios all over the country.
Talk radio has changed over the years. It is now overwhelmingly conservative, but that has not always been the case. A quarter of a century ago, it was populated with liberal hosts who, contrary to current conditions, were overwhelmingly liberal and not very cheerful, at least not when I was at the microphone across from them. There was one in Boston, Williamson I believe was his name, who was benign and considerate, but many were mad as hell. After I left their studios, they were even madder. One in Los Angeles might even have actually been institutionalized after I let slip that Ronald Reagan was reviving the economy.
At any rate, all the talk show hosts I have been talking with recently have been conservative, and another thing about them: They are all amiable and bright. I have yet to encounter a shouter, but then I have yet to encounter a liberal. It is said that the comic genius, Al Franken, is going to start a liberal talk show. He is sufficiently angry for the role, and he is humorless. How can he miss?
My series of chats with conservative talk show hosts began with Sean Hannity, and he seems to be the new paradigm for talk show hosts. He is amiable, and bright, and something else. He is earnest. What makes him earnest is the parlous shape of world politics, post 9-11. I dedicated my book to Ted and Barbara Olson, and about the first thing Hannity mentioned was his admiration for Barbara, who of course died under heroic circumstances during the 9-11 treachery.