Politics over Cheese and Wine

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By Helen Kossler

Reading Between the Lines

Bill Press, a radio show host on station WCPT, appeared on Wednesday night at the Marion Street Cheese Market. Copies of Press’s latest book, Toxic Talk, were available for sale through the Book Table and when I left it looked as if most of the copies had been sold.

The turnout jammed the Cheese Market and left some potential audience members without a seat or even a place to stand. The venue is not ideally set up for an appearance of this sort, but people were friendly and hungry so it was probably a good evening for the restaurant. My husband and I were able to get seats by asking other customers if their extra chair was being used a la the Farmer’s Market.

Press is clearly on the left side of the political aisle, although Herb Kutchins, in his review of Press’s book says that Press began as a moderate Democrat but the party has moved to the right.  Press says he likes Obama, but admits to “being disappointed in him” over some of his policy decisions. He started his talk saying that there are 3 major lies (his words) he wanted to debunk about the budget issues:

  • One was that reducing debt should be the focus. Press insists that creating jobs should be the focus and the audience agreed enthusiastically.
  • Two was that the Republicans are more fiscally responsible than Democrats. Press pointed out they were able to wipe out a budget surplus left by Bill Clinton in record time.
  • Three is that Medicare and Social Security are bankrupting the nation. Press said they are currently solvent programs and could remain solvent indefinitely if taxes were raised on higher income individuals.

Audience participation was high and some respondents wanted to make a point rather than ask a question, but it was clear that there were several people in the room who felt that Obama has let them down. One woman questioned whether she would vote in 2012 because of Obama’s stance on the war in Libya and other issues.  Press’s response was that it was critical for her to vote and to encourage everyone she knows or works with to vote too. He came down solidly on the side of using the democratic process to effect change.

I did not have a copy of his book, Toxic Talk, to review but when I went to Press’s website, I found five book reviews listed there. I thought it interesting that Press listed links to reviews that were less than fawning and liked the fact that he was willing to do so. Two of the reviews were very positive and agreed with Press that the left has been smug about radio being a less important medium to reach people. According to him, conservative owners have been able to buy up radio stations due to changes in ownership laws and are willing to support conservative radio hosts even when they don’t make money. This has given conservative radio an impressive presence on the national scene. There are approximately 60 Progressive radio outlets versus 1000 conservative ones.

One of the reviews was balanced and pointed out both positives and negatives about the book but came down solidly on the side of reading it. And two reviews were negative and said that Press scolds the right for name calling but does it himself. Their conclusion was that his book was one-sided and light weight.

I felt that Press is solidly to the left, but he is a thinking man who cares about what happens in this country.  He talked about what was good for the country as a whole, not what would maximize profit.  When he talked about “shared sacrifice” he didn’t mean that only those who are wage earners were doing the sacrificing.

Pictures from the Cheese Market appearance can be viewed at

http://www.billpressshow.com.  Books can be purchased at The Book Table.

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