Copyright © 2003 Henrietta W. Hay
My Friend the Columnist
November 21, 2003
Librarians talk to librarians. Teachers talk to teachers. Truck
drivers talk to truck drivers on their CB's. Computer programmers talk
to computers. But columnists sit in little rooms by themselves and
don't have anybody to talk to. That's why they have to read all the
columns they can find so they can know what other columnists are talking
Columns give a good cross section of what people in general are
thinking. Whatever your opinion about just about anything, you can find
a columnist to agree with you, or one to snarl at. Newspapers, of
course, carry columns, as do most magazines. And thanks to the World
Wide Web we have access to lots of newspapers.
Unlike journalists, columnists can express personal opinions -- and we
do. We are sort of like talk radio, except that you can't talk back
without going to the trouble of writing your own opinion -- and signing
your name. And columns run the gamut of political thought, while talk
radio is almost purely ultra conservative.
Columns, like the people who write them, come in all shapes. There are
those that are mainly political, the social issue ones, the domestic
ones, the purely funny ones and those that are all or none of the above.
While there are many excellent male columnists, I have several favorites
written by women.
One of them is Maureen Dowd. She covers the Washington scene and takes
on all comers. Almost always liberal, she occasionally switches
gears. Currently the Administration and all its members are fair
game. Last week she took on Dick Cheyenne's influence on Mr. Bush.
Referring to Cheyenne's influence and deep voice, she wrote, "How else
to explain the vice president's success in creating a parallel universe
inside the White House that is shaping the real universe?"
An outstanding Colorado columnist is the Denver Post's Diane Carman.
She is a strong feminist and doesn't hesitate to express her anger when
she feels it. A recent column discussed the question of "outing" rape
victims. It is a journalistic problem as well as a human one, and is
very much in the news now because of the Kobe Bryan trial. This is a
very important problem for women, and Carman suggests that it should be
the choice of the victim, although the choice is often taken away from
Anna Quindlen is now a contributing editor of Newsweek, but she still
writes a pithy column every other week. She is an Irish Catholic
Feminist who wrote last month, "Letís use the "F" word here. People say itís
inappropriate, offensive, that it puts people off. But it seems to me
itís the best way to begin, when itís simultaneously devalued and
invaluable. The "F" word is not an expletive, but an idealóone that
still has a way to go." Note: the "F" word is Feminism.
Ellen Goodman is a liberal political writer who tackles politics and
social issues. She obviously respects the system, but is happy to
take pot shots at the people in it. Good columnists have a basic
respect for what our republican form of government can and should be. I
suspect they are the true political idealists. They're the ones who
understand the vision but can't stand what's going on.
Then there is Kathleen Parker. She is a conservative but she slips into
a liberal stance now and then. But she is always rational and but I
enjoy her writing whatever the subject. And, much to my surprise, I
often agree with her
And then there is my very favorite, Molly Ivins who writes for the Ft.
Worth Telegram the wittiest, most accurate news columns of anybody.
I talk to these people all the time. They don't know it, of course,
but they talk to me, too. So really, columnists do have somebody to
talk to -- each other.