I was supposed to be retired. But the end last year of a career in daily journalism that spanned 44 years left me unconvinced that my writing days were over.
Having spent most of my life with The Associated Press, the global news organization committed to reporting news without fear or favor or expressing personal opinions, and with The Enquirer in editing roles, I enjoyed the new freedom to decide what I thought about things and write about my personal opinions.
Not always a good thing, especially on Twitter (find me @dansewell), where it’s all too easy to quickly get locked into an argument with strangers or even friends.
So I tried to write more thoughtful columns as an Enquirer contributor, and it has now become this weekly political column.
And I hope you will offer me your ideas, tips and feedback.
While it takes some ego to expect people to want to read my opinions, it also helps to be humble and admit that I don’t have all the answers.
Growing up in Butler County
A Brief Personal Overview: Born in Middletown and raised on a small farm near the small village of Jacksonburg, Butler County. I fed the cattle morning and evening and baled hay during the long summer days. On the same subject : Ohio Politics Explained podcast: police reform after Akron death, abortion and impeachment. My father, from Jackson in the Appalachian region of Kentucky, recently hard hit by flooding, was a steelworker, and I spent a summer working at the Armco Steel plant.
We had The Enquirer at home in the morning and the defunct Middletown Journal in the afternoon. I thought journalism was exciting and maybe even glamorous, and I set my sights on it.
I interned for both of these newspapers, reported and edited at the Ohio University student-run Post, then started my full-time career as an AP sportswriter in Buffalo, New York. . From there, Miami to sports writing, but moving on to reporting; Caribbean correspondent in San Juan, traveling correspondent in Florida, Southeast regional reporter. I’ve covered hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, mass shootings, a terrible bombing and an American invasion. So much death and suffering.
Then back to The Enquirer as editor for Butler and Warren counties, then back to AP Chicago, back to The Enquirer as suburban editor, then back to AP as Cincinnati correspondent.
So that makes it Enquirer 4, AP 3.
Politics: Dark Arts or Art of the Possible
What do I know of politics? Too. This may interest you : Democrats should ditch dirty tricks politics.
One of the first politicians I got to know was Donald “Buz” Lukens, a rising Republican star in my youth in Middletown whose career eventually crumbled under the weight of sex and corruption scandals. As a reporter for the College Post, I interviewed the Ohio Statehouse’s youngest legislator, a curly-haired Democrat named Sherrod Brown. His career has improved considerably compared to that of Buz.
Brown’s Republican counterpart, Senator Rob Portman, has been another I’ve had a good relationship with over the years, and the same with Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and his Democratic challenger, the former mayor of Dayton Nan Whaley.
What I mean is, you’re going to have a hard time grading me on partisanship.
Do you think I’m leaning Democrat? Ask the people who worked for the Clintons when I was digging in their Arkansas land for months at a time. Or members of the staff of the late US Senator Ted Kennedy, when I was writing embarrassing stories about his behavior in the face of rape allegations in Palm Beach. Florida, against his nephew, who was acquitted.
It’s no secret my disdain for Donald Trump, but I don’t consider him a true Republican. I hope the party breaks free of its grip before it has another chance to overthrow American democracy. But we have enough experts to talk about Trump on cable TV and in national columns.
I want to learn about Greater Cincinnati politicians such as Mayor Aftab Pureval, whom I met when he was campaigning for Congress with this “Aftab!” commercial duck and adviser Liz Keating, whose grandfather William J. Keating’s signature appeared on my first Enquirer paycheck as an editor when I articled in 1976.
Labels? I thought conservatives believed in freedom from government, not having politicians who want to force 10-year-old rape victims to bear this spawn, or decide who can or can’t get married, or tell teachers what they can teach.
I’ve known skilled practitioners of the political dark arts, like a Republican strategist in Florida who described the need for candidates to be prepared to “work hard with a short knife” against their opponents. Or the late Lee Atwater, who used the ancient Chinese book “The Art of War” as his political bible.
My problem is that there should be more to politics than winning and then staying in power.
Hopefully we can go beyond that. Politics is supposed to be the art of the possible.
Political columnist Dan Sewell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; don’t interfere there with his quest to finally win The Enquirer Fantasy Football trophy.