You can take the sleazy dude out of the Left Coast, but you can't take the Left Coast out of the sleazy dude.
Phil Busse, the erstwhile Mercury
editor, mayoral candidate, clairvoyant restaurant reviewer
, prison boxing habitué and hilariously overpaid political campaign manager, has taken leave of Portland for a visiting professorship at St. Olaf College in Minnesota—a job that apparently allows him the time to cruise Highway 19, uprooting John McCain campaign signs.
He's proud enough of this new hobby that he's written an entire column for the Huffington Post
on his mission:
Sure, I understand that stealing a sign will not change anyone's mind, and, most likely, will only embolden McCain supporters' disdain for liberals. Even so, yanking out the signs and running like a scared rabbit back to my idling car was one of the single-most exhilarating and empowering political acts that I have ever done.
We cannot argue with that analysis of Busse's political career. In fact, Portland's writers may find themselves feeling some twinge of sympathy for the McCain supporters who have had their property stolen
Let it never be said, however, that Phil Busse fails to support equal time. In the same post,
he brags of marking down a student's grade in his mass-media studies class for wearing an Obama shirt while reading a paper on Rush Limbaugh.
But, when teaching, I try not to share my political beliefs. Earlier this term, I marked down a student's grade for wearing an Obama T-shirt when he gave a presentation about talk radio's impact on the current election. I told him that the T-shirt made his presentation look biased and detracted from his otherwise sincere analysis of Rush Limbaugh.
That student, it turns out, also reads the Huffington Post:
How could I forget, Phil? You made quite an impression on me with your flagrant disregard for free speech, especially coming from journalist, one whose livelihood is wholly and totally dependent on the protections of the first amendment. I don't mean to be bitter, but this irritates me as much as anyone. Displaying a McCain / Palin sign on one's own property and wearing a shirt supporting Barack Obama are both form of free expression that harm nobody. What is harmful is this sort of childish and whimsical caprice exhibited by Mr. Busse as a representative of St. Olaf College. Grading thoughtlessly based on my t-shirt rather than the informational content of the presentation and openly admitting to trespassing and thievery are not qualities to be associated with any fine academic institution, public or private.
Maybe I'll follow Phil's lead. Maybe instead of just talking, I'll take action - like sending a copy of this article to the Dean of Students.
St. Olaf is already aware of Busse's leisure activities: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports
the college's marketing and communications director repudiating its visiting professor's actions as "in direct conflict with the college's values and mission, and we do not in any way condone them.'' The paper also says Busse will find out this week if the Rice County Sheriff will file charges.
Drat. Looks like we'll be seeing Busse back home any day now.