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Darts and laurels

Laurels to all the people who tuned in to Thursday night’s vice-presidential debate ó and have been following other campaign events this year. Admittedly, the Biden-Palin debate wasn’t Lincoln-Douglas (or Frazier-Ali), and a lot of viewers may have watched primarily out of curiosity. Still, they were engaged enough to choose politics over baseball playoffs or HBO. Nielsen’s initial estimate of audience numbers said that the veep debate drew at least 40 percent more viewers than last week’s presidential debate. It’s too bad that enthusiasm isn’t translating into heavy crowds for local forums. Only a handful showed up for a county commissioner forum sponsored by the Rowan County Farm Bureau. Let’s hope that’s not an accurate barometer of interest in local and state races. There’s a lot of talk these days about changing the political culture. But the reality is that nothing will change until citizens start paying closer attention to government action on a consistent basis ó not just when there’s an exciting national race or an economic crisis erupting.
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Dart to the right-wing blogosphere attempts to discredit debate moderator Gwen Ifill because she’s writing a book about politics and race that will include material on Barack Obama. Even if a moderator wanted to destroy her (or his) career by favoring a candidate in front of millions of viewers, it strains credulity to suggest such a subterfuge could affect the outcome, given the debate format. The same questions are posed to both candidates, with equal time allotted for their answers. The idea of a moderator attempting to tilt the tables is far-fetched ó and it’s not as if the debate participants actually answer the questions, anyhow. By the way ó Jim Lehrer, host of the first McCain-Obama debate, is the author of a novel titled “A Bus of My Own.” Hmmmm. Evidence of a subliminal bias toward John McCain’s “Straight Talk Express?”
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Laurels to the state’s decision to purchase Grandfather Mountain, one of North Carolina’s most majestic treasures.
The cost is $12 million, not a piddling amount by any means, even in better economic times. But we’ll bet that when future generations look back on the decision to preserve the 5,964-foot peak, it will be hailed as a visionary effort ó and a bargain to boot.
The state will buy the site from the family of the late Hugh Morton, a passionate protector of the mountain ó even to the point of defying the federal government when it wanted to desecrate the peak by building the Blue Ridge Parkway over it.
While the current family members were dedicated to the mountain’s preservation, there was no guarantee that subsequent owners would feel the same. With this purchase, the state ensures that Grandfather Mountain’s grand vistas will be there for many future generations to enjoy.

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