The Middle Shelf: Part 5 – A CGC Guide to Finding Common Ground through Reading
Columnist, radio host, lawyer, and cable commentator Michael Smerconish has just released a new book with a title that may well sum up the current political landscape for those of us trying to reach common ground. While primarily based in Philadelphia, Smerconish has a national audience. In Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right, American Life in Columns, Smerconish compiles over 17 years of his writings for a number of newspapers and where needed, provides updates on how his opinions have evolved to become more centrist. As former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says in his review of the book:
“If only more of the country could be as passionate as Smerconish about the need for change, we could end partisan gridlock and get our politicians working for the people again. I have always believed in Dwight d. Eisenhower’s wisdom that the center of the road is the only usable space and the extreme left and right are the gutters, and Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right says this perfectly.”
A couple of side notes worth mentioning about the book:
- All of the author profits are being donated to the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center where Smerconish’s wife is on the board and which “serves over 3,000 children and their families annually, as a private non-profit agency that specializes in delivering behavioral health services to Philadelphia’s children and their families,”
- The title of the book may be somewhat familiar to some of you as it is a line of lyrics from Stuck in the Middle with You, a 1972 song performed by Scottish band Stealers Wheel. The song has been used in pop culture numerous times, including in Quentin Tarantino’s film Reservoir Dogs. The song was, according to the album notes, a critique of the recording business and the treatment of artists.
Smerconish now identifies himself as an Independent but had been a life-long Republican until 2010. He previously had worked for Vice-President George H.W. Bush and Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo when he became a Republican. However, in 2008 he began to break with the Republican Party endorsing President Obama because he felt that the Republican’s failed to capture Osama Bin Laden. As time had gone on he began to move away from the Conservative views to a Centrist position. In an op-ed in 2010 for the Washington Post, he wrote, “Buying gas or groceries or attending back-to-school nights, I speak to people for whom the issues are a mixed bag; they are liberal on some, conservative on others, middle of the road on the rest. But politicians don’t take their cues from those people. No, politicians emulate the world of punditry.”
His latest book, especially the updated afterward that follow many of the columns, is worth taking a look at to see how someone who is so well-entrenched in media now tries to walk the middle ground in an effort to alleviate some of the polarization that may well have been caused by talk radio and cable shows.