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Tuning In Again

12/31/08 7:55AM By Deborah Luskin
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(HOST) Despite depressing headlines, commentator Deborah Luskin finds that - ever since the election - she has a renewed interest in the news. And she's even  looking toward the New Year with cautious optimism.

(LUSKIN) It was in the dim light of a December afternoon back in two-thousand-and-three that I first heard the news of torture at the military prison in Abu Ghraib. I remember deliberately turning off the car radio. For almost five years, I stopped seeking out the news.

I already lived without television. Even so, I had a fairly good idea of current events. It's pretty hard to avoid the news in our media-saturated culture, even though much of it is just the endless repetition of sound-bytes. Without making a determined effort to read detailed position papers, it's difficult to know the truth of what's going on. When it came to the recent presidential campaign, I didn't even try.

I survived the two-years of campaigning if not exactly in blissful ignorance, then at least with cynical disregard. Not until the Red Sox were in the play-offs did I even see a campaign ad. I was at my neighborhood bar, watching the game along with some regulars, including a woman who was sipping her beer and doing a crossword. As soon as the political ad came on, she looked up and said to the room, "I'm so sick of them!"

One ad was for McCain and another for Obama; They each called the other a liar, who, if elected, would bring the nation to its knees. Neither was very informative, and right up to election night, I tried to ignore the polls, unwilling to set myself up for crushing disappointment, especially if voting irregularities again determined the outcome.
 
On election night, I checked the returns at about ten. Still not willing to believe predictions based on early returns, I went to bed.

But at eleven-oh-one, the phone rang. Our oldest child called to say that Obama had won. As soon as we hung up, our middle child called, and shortly after that, our youngest. Who needs broadcast media when you've spawned engaged citizens?

Well, as it turns out, I do. I gave up trying to sleep at about 4:30 and watched Obama's acceptance speech on the internet. Then I watched McCain's concession. I started to investigate what I'd missed, going back to Michelle Obama's speech at the DNC. I surfed through the big speeches of the campaign, suddenly intensely interested.

And the interest continues. I find myself logging onto the New York Times every morning before I start work; I tune in to the radio when I prepare dinner. I'm pleased by the number of women nominated to cabinet positions, but more than any tally of gender or ethnicity, I'm delighted by the professional qualifications of the proposed cabinet - they're not just political appointments.
 
I do realize that nationally our economy is on the ropes and globally our national reputation is in the trash. And while we have yet to see how the much-promised political change will play out in the new administration, for me, there has already been profound, personal change: I'm willing - even eager - to tune back in.
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