Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Wolverton, Kercheval Good Analysts not Problem Solvers

Lee Wolverton and Hoppy Kercheval both were given space in the Saturday, September 25 Charleston Gazette-Mail to give their points of view. Wolverton, a publisher and executive editor of HD Media, which owns the Charleston Gazette-Mail and other WV newspapers, brings a formidable intellect, vocabulary, and knowledge of history to his writing that I suspect would leave a majority of West Virginians scratching their heads. Kercheval brings an everyman sensibility to his analyses of issues and appeals to what he considers the common sense of most West Virginians.

Both, are relatively conservative in their ideology, but neither is a fan of the current crop of Republicans who either chase after or cower under Donald Trump’s leadership of the Republican Party. Both, to my relief, give deference to facts and science and decry such conspiracy theories and false narratives as claims that the 2020 elections were stolen from Trump and rife with fraud, that Covid-19 is merely a flu or that the vaccines or mask wearing are either useless or harmful. 

But neither is immune to making what, to me, are either naive or fatuous (silly and pointless) conclusions.

Wolverton on Saturday spent most of his column lecturing on the history of the phrase “band of brothers.” He threw in a couple paragraphs on Lincoln’s words about a house divided (he wants us to know Lincoln got it from the Bible), and goes on to conclude that in order to solve our problems as a nation, we have to (my interpretation) follow the plea of Rodney King, who in 1992 pleaded, “Why can’t we all just get along?” during a particularly contentious period. Wolverton’s solution? A careful dodge. All we need to do is agree to some basic facts, “rallying around points in which all reasonable people can agree.” And “there’s the rub” as Shakespeare reminds us, but Wolverton ignores. 

When 40% of voters willfully decide to ignore facts and reason, to dismiss science and anyone who writes like Wolverton as elitist (you’ve got to admit, Mr. Wolverton, you fit that description), his solution is nothing short of naive.

Meanwhile Kercheval shows a good command of the facts that have made immigration such an insoluble problem in our country for at least 50 years by acknowledging that “what makes for good politics makes for lousy policies,” or in this case, outdated policy. In the opinion of Democrats like myself, Republicans don’t want to solve the problem because preventing solutions keeps their base angry, and angry people tend to vote in greater numbers. In the view of Republicans, Democrats won’t enforce the existing laws (not true) and want open borders (also false), or among the more extreme and racist of them, want people of color to come here and “replace us” (umm, Nazi ideology?).

But then Kercheval throws out his argument and suggests Biden could solve the whole problem by simply inviting politicians of all stripes to the border, show them the mess of problems and they’d immediately have an “a ha” moment and go back to Washington to solve it. I have one thing to say, Hoppy, “A ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”

Paul Epstein is a retired teacher living and playing music in Charleston

This appeared in the September 27, 2001 edition of the Charleston Gazette-Mail

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