The struggle within continues

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 29, 2004

As a reporter, I can't help but be a little skeptical of anything I hear from a politician, especially during an election year. As an American citizen, I can't help but feel hopeful whenever I hear an elected official talk about the achievements of the past year, the prospects for a prosperous year to come, and the hopes of millions of other Americans.

Sometimes, that can be a difficult blend to mix. Reporter and citizen. It's not always easy to separate personal beliefs from professional duties.

In fact, there are times when it's downright impossible.

For instance, during President Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday night, I found myself struggling internally for the right reaction to his comments.

If I express my viewpoints, does it interfere with my ability to be completely objective on a subject? If I don't express my opinion, is that saying my opinion doesn't matter?

It's a touchy situation.

In a position such as mine, there is a very fine line between what I can and cannot say.

People who know me also know that can be a difficult thing for me to control.

So, as I watched with an open mind and heart to the President Bush's speech, my internal struggle was greater than any of the other people in the room with me.

I know this because I actually felt tears swell up at one point on a topic the president discussed.

What made it so difficult for me was the fact that I was in total agreement with the president, yet at the same time, I had to keep a very professional demeanor in front of my coworkers. It was an even greater difficulty when I knew that most of my coworkers in the room were in total disagreement.

Tuesday night wasn't the first time something like that has happened to me before. In fact, my family is usually a veritable split politically. My mother and I tend to lean one direction, while my father and sister lean the complete opposite.

As I grow older, I find that my views tend to change with each situation a little more frequently, and I start to agree with what was once an opposing viewpoint.

(I say it's getting older, my cousin says I'm finally seeing the light.)

Aside from the trauma of holding in my emotions on a subject, I was guilty of letting them shine during some points of the speech.

In fact, I was quite vocal at one point regarding a certain topic I'm in complete disagreement with the president on.

It's a topic I'm not afraid to share with the public. I do not believe that we need to reaffirm portions of the Patriot Act. A name so elegant and, well, patriotic in name; yet so deceitful and harmful in action.

Passed quickly following the events of September 11, 2000, the Patriot Act encourages Americans to spy on each, gives the government the right to invade our privacy and the right to essentially convict without trial any person accused of "un-American acts."

Does that sound familiar? I wasn't alive during Sen. Joe Mcarthy's time, but I did read about it in history class and hear about it from those who lived it.

Although I expected more from President Bush in his speech regarding ways to achieve his goals - goals he believes will benefit all Americans; I can't say I'm surprised. It is an election year and he has to be tactful in his choice of words and actions. I can say, with absolute certainty, I do have a foul taste in my mouth regarding the actions of some of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives in attendance at the speech.

When they booed during portions of the president's speech, they erred on the side of bad judgment, poor taste and bad manners. I have to say that my momma taught me to respect the views of others and raised me to show respect to those in charge - whether I agreed with them or not. I just wonder if those elected officials mothers taught them the same thing - or have they just forgotten basic manners?