Those of you of a certain age will surely remember the nightly news anchors Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. The Huntley-Brinkley Report ran for over two decades on NBC. The two signed off with their signature "Good night, David" "Good night, Chet" for the last time on July 31, 1970.
Chet Huntley reported from New York City while David Brinkley held down the desk in Washington, D.C. After the news program ended with the retirement of Mr. Huntley, Mr. Brinkley continued his career in broadcasting and also wrote four books - two memoirs; a look at Washington, D.C. after World War II; and the one I am reading.
Everyone Is Entitled to My Opinion is a collection of short, one page commentaries he delivered on the Sunday political affairs program This Week With David Brinkley.
I came across this book last summer on one of my travels and am just now getting around to reading it. I am sorry I waited so long. Reading his wry observations written and delivered between 1981 and 1996 on the foibles of politicians and people in general is a reminder that things don't really seem to change.
For example, on January 31, 1982 Mr. Brinkley bemoans the demise of two daily newspapers: The Philadelphia Bulletin and The Washington Star. I can't begin to count the number of newspapers that have ceased to be since then.
On December 12, 1982 he offers simple advice to those who complain they can't get any work done because they are forever being interrupted by phone calls: If you are busy, don't answer. Of course today we have to contend with much more than ringing phones. (Remember when phones rang instead of singing to us or chirping like a bird?) There are email notifications, text message beeps, and other forms of "Alert! Alert! I am trying to get in touch with you!" interruptions.
He reports on February 5, 1984 that the American national debt was $200 billion and Congress couldn't figure out a way to lower it. Apparently it never has because today our debt is $18 trillion and rising.
He takes on the presidential election year and writes that the Republicans will spend, beginning on March 14, 1983, $100 million on television commercials. All this a year and a half ahead of the November 1984 election. It is estimated that the total television ad spending for the 2016 election will be $4.4 billion.
It's all here from voter fraud to the first mention of the greenhouse effect to the U.S. Navy spending $466 for a pocket wrench that costs $1.49 at the local hardware store to Social Security funding woes and automobile safety recalls.
See what I mean? Same old, same old. Only the dollar amounts are higher.
Well, sometimes it is better to get the news thirty years on. Unfortunately, there is not much nostalgia for "the good old days" to be gleaned from these musings. He writes, though, so very cleverly about these absurdities and that makes for quite entertaining reading. And, I can still hear his distinctive voice in my mind as I read.
These commentaries are not all about The State of The Nation. One funny story is about a teenager who ran away from home and took up residence in an apartment building at the bottom of an elevator shaft. He fixed up a bed and brought in books, magazines, and a hot plate. He might have lived there forever but the tenants kept wondering why the elevator smelled like hot dogs cooking. The boy's nest was discovered and the jig was up.
Good night, David.