Several polls have shown recently that even the most popular radio talk-show hosts (the Limbaughs and Dobbses) who trade in politics on their shows would never get elected to public office.
(OK, except for maybe in two or three Congressional districts in Texas or South Carolina.)
And that's probably why they don't try. Either that or the huge pay cut being elected to office would mean.
Take it from Dave Ross, a moderate/liberal who's been doing a popular talk show in Seattle for over 15 years. He tried running once, and he'll tell you: It ain't pretty. It's much easier -- and safer -- to sit in the cozy confines of a radio studio and dispense political opinions.
Ross, whose clever 90-second commentaries are heard on over 200 CBS Radio Network affiliates around the country (including KCBS in San Francisco and WCBS in New York City) sums up his run for a suburban Seattle Congressional seat thusly:
"When you go into politics," he shrugs, "You give people license to lie about you."
Ross, who was asked to run -- and did so reluctantly -- by the local Democratic Party (he won the Dem primary easily) says this without bitterness, adding, "Running for office also gives you empathy for those candidates of both parties who do."
Ross lost a narrow race to unctuous Republican GOP incumbent Dave "The Sheriff" Reichert in Washington state's 8th C.D. by a narrow margin five years ago. Reichert is a former lawman and George Bush enabler who takes credit for solving the grisly Green River murders.
Ross, a courtly, witty and articulate guy with a great set of pipes, is also the star of Seattle's Gilbert & Sullivan ensemble. He's not overtly or astringently political, as so many talk hosts today are. Perhaps that's partly because he remembers first-hand the bruising political arena. Other talkers (q.v., Lou "The Birther" Dobbs) who are considering (or hinting at) a political run might want to pay attention to Ross.
Ross now manages a chuckle at one campaign memory: "I'd just returned from visiting the troops in Iraq when I was photographed. I hadn't showered in three days." In fact," he smiles, "I looked like a sex predator. Guess which picture the GOP used in their ads."
Ross, who quickly returned to radio after his House loss (KIRO Radio in Seattle welcomed him back with open arms), smiles when he recalls one TV ad the Republican National Committee ran against him because of his opposition to Bush's "Star Wars" program. It included the grizzled-looking photo, of course.
"It had a shot of the Space Needle, a simulated nuclear winter and the announcer intoned ominously, "You wouldn't want to live in Dave Ross' Seattle.'" Charming, n'est-ce pas?
Ross, who's also been Charles Osgood's fill-in on CBS Radio for years, is an empathetic voice in a cold business. Ross said this on his local radio show recently when Seattle's Boeing outsourced hundreds of aircraft jobs to union-averse South Carolina:
"It's the first time Boeing planes won't be assembled here. Now Seattle workers know how people in Detroit must feel."
So go ahead and run for office, Lou. You'll find out how Dave Ross feels.
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