An honorable recipient
With the exception of the collective body of men and women who wear or have worn America’s military uniforms, we are hardpressed to identify a single organization that has contributed more than C-SPAN during the past quarter century to the appreciation, understanding, enhancement and defense of the fundamental governing institutions that form the foundation of the American republic. So, we weren’t surprised when President Bush selected CSPAN’s founding chairman and CEO, Brian Lamb, to be a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian award for distinguished Americans.
In its announcement, the White House said: “Brian Lamb has elevated America’s public debate and helped open up our government to citizens across the nation. His dedication to a transparent political system and the free flow of ideas has enriched and strengthened our democracy.” Take a moment to re-read that declaration. It is high praise that doesn’t include a scintilla of exaggeration.
Today, of course, C-SPAN is much more than the televised link to proceedings on the floors of the House and Senate. Together with its Web site and numerous off- shoots, such as C-SPAN in the Classroom, Book TV, award-winning series exemplified by “American Presidents: Life Portraits” and ever-expanding Podcast collection — C-SPAN has become an indispensable source for American political information.
Do yourself a favor and click on the CSPAN.org Web site. If you’re interested in the 2008 presidential and congressional elections, select the “campaign network” site. Barack Obama generated a lot of buzz with his speech at the JeffersonJackson Dinner sponsored by Iowa’s Democratic Party. It was a fine speech, but it was not JFK in Berlin by a long shot.
Or check out a fascinating debate on Nov. 16 featuring five top economists advising Republicans John McCain and Rudy Giuliani and Democrats Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Mr. Obama. CSPAN not only covered the 1-hour-and-45minute debate but also makes it available on its Web site. Click on a presidential candidate and C-SPAN will direct you to a site displaying the candidate’s campaign ads, televised events involving the candidate and a political library of important speeches delivered by the candidate.
When congressional races begin to heat up the middle of next year, C-SPAN will deliver innumerable debates, and it will cover gubernatorial races as well.
It has been said that Brian Lamb is to American participatory government what Thomas Edison was to science. That seems a fair assessment to us.