An hon­or­able re­cip­i­ent

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

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 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.

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