John Drescher of the News & Observer once called Sen. Phil Berger “a serious elected official with ambition and vision.” And Drescher was right. Unfortunately for all but the wealthiest of us, Berger’s vision includes as little government as possible and that includes public schools, economic development, unemployment benefits, Medicaid and a host of other programs and services that help middle-class families and those struggling to get by.
He used his legislative muscle to shape a tax plan that shifted the tax burden from corporations and beneficiaries of our financial system to those of us who are just trying to get by. When he saw the Rural Center as a problem, he appointed a guy who was ideologically opposed to economic development programs to its board of directors. Within a year, that appointee, Bob Luddy, helped create a story for the News & Observer and was calling for the demise of the center. That fox didn’t get into the henhouse. Berger threw him in and then locked the door.
Now, he’s taken the same tactic with the UNC TV Board of Trustees. Berger appointed a science fiction author who holds staunchly conservative views on social issues to the board. But Orson Scott Card is more than just a social conservative, he’s a homophobe who gets his jollies inflaming sentiments with right wing rhetoric. Just what we need on a public board.
Just four months ago, Card compared Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler. And not just in passing, he wrote an essay about it. You read that right. A guy who compared the President to the Nazi dictator in a paranoid fantasy is going to oversee North Carolina public television.
I expect to see Card finding “serious problems” with the way public television is operating within the next few months. His job is to wreak havoc, create doubt and call on the Republican legislators to “fix it.” In Republican-speak, “fix it” means to cut a program’s budget. It’s kind of like “creative destruction” for government.
But all my speculation aside, isn’t the real question for Senator Berger?
Do you, Senator, agree with Orson Scott Card’s assessment that Barack Obama is a lot like Adolf Hitler?