Monday, April 23, 2018
Politics

One of Bob Haa's beliefs I agree with: the right to opinions

In more than 20 years in Hernando County, I've listened to maybe 20 minutes of Bob Haa's Haa-Wire morning talk show on Brooksville's WWJB-AM 1450.

I didn't consciously boycott the show. I just heard enough of it, and enough about it, to know it wasn't for me.

Before his death last week at age 65, Haa hosted his show for 23 years. For part of that time, he was a paid staffer of the county Republican Executive Committee. For all of it, he stuck to the party line — or so people tell me.

"It was Republicans good, Democrats bad. Republicans wear the white hats, Democrats the black," said Craig Bolton of Weeki Wachee, a regular listener.

President George W. Bush could do no wrong; Barack Obama could do no right, Bolton said. And Haa was all for using the shutdown and the debt ceiling to try to sabotage Obama­care.

Of course he was. It was a Republican idea. And that's one problem with nonstop partisanship, one reason I didn't listen to the show. Too predictable.

And on this issue, so was the party's position. Obamacare is big government, and by now we all know how Republicans feel about that.

Which brings us to another reason I didn't listen: It was often hard to tell whether Haa was against big government or just government.

Haa, several listeners have told me, dogged county administrators to the point that Hernando's habit of casually discarding these leaders is part of his legacy.

And I've often wondered why Citrus County, with many more Republican voters than Hernando — voters presumably in favor of limited government — seems much more willing to spend money on mass transit, parks and libraries. Maybe, at least a little bit, it was because of Haa.

In several interviews, Haa said that some of his more militant views were for effect, for entertainment. I disagree with that approach as much as I disagree with his politics.

If you talk seriously about serious issues, you don't get to squeeze out of tight spots by saying that you shouldn't be taken too seriously.

For one thing, provocation is the path to extremism. It was starting to be a problem in talk radio about the time Haa launched his show. It's a much bigger problem now. Who among us didn't think, when the government came to a standstill last month, that it sure would help if we all still got our news from Walter Cronkite?

Hypocritical, right — me complaining about media bias? There are differences. I don't think I'm as hard-line as Haa was. I'm also one of a few subjective voices at a paper with many reporters who play it right down the middle.

Still, I understand this objection. It might even bring us to a point where Haa and I could have agreed. We need to be free to express opinion — columnists and radio show hosts, readers and listeners.

Opinion — hearing it, sharing it — is why people tuned in to the show. For all its divisiveness, it brought listeners together. It was a forum for people who usually agreed with Haa, such as Brooksville business owners Doug Davis and Anna Liisa Covell, and people, like Bolton, who almost never did.

This is America, Haa once told a Times reporter. It's a place where good ideas compete with bad ones and even in partisan times, I think, the good ones eventually win.

Who knows? In 20 more years, a few of these winning ideas might even turn out to be Haa's.

Comments

Sean Hannity, a Trump defender, under scrutiny for real estate deals

Atlanta Journal-Constitution (TNS)ATLANTA — On his Fox News program last summer, Sean Hannity effused praise for his guest, U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson. "I know you have done a good job," Hannity said. "You are a good man."Carson’s presence gav...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

With the third largest Cuban American population, Cuba’s culture is celebrated throughout the Tampa Bay area and in a diversity of ways.Flags hang in homes, fashion is worn, music performed, food served.But be wary of honoring that heritage by puttin...
Published: 04/23/18
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Published: 04/21/18

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Published: 04/21/18
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Published: 04/21/18
Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Scott’s first policy idea as a U.S. Senate candidate won’t happen and most of his fellow Republicans don’t support it.But it’s a surefire applause line at political rallies.Scott wants term limits for members of Congress: 12 ye...
Published: 04/23/18
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18