Monday, July 29, 2013

Kevin Strouse's College Newspaper Column

Kevin Strouse, one of the Democrats running for the 8th congressional district (mostly Bucks County), went to Columbia University, graduating in May, 2001.  During his senior year he wrote a column for the school newspaper, The Columbia Spectator.  Some (all?) of these columns, 22 of them, are online.  I read through some, skimmed the rest (see below for why), and here are some thoughts and observations:

Nothing in the columns I read screamed "future political candidate," but he didn't say anything stupid in any other them either which is a feat others have not managed.  The presence of old college newspaper columns is not always an asset to a campaign but there weren't any red flags here.

He writes well.  The ability to string words together into coherent sentences, supported by facts or observations, is an excellent qualification for someone seeking elected office.  We've seen more than enough examples in the news lately of people who do not seem to be able, in any language, to express themselves effectively or who spout unsupportable gibberish.  Strouse passes this test well.  If these columns are anything to go by, should he show up on the news he will leave a good impression.

The majority of his columns are about sports (which explains why I skimmed them, no sports fan here).  This always seems to play well with the electorate.  But here's the kicker (pardon the pun), he wrote about women's soccer.  There were some Eagles references tossed in here and there in other columns, and one column about Dennis Miller's commentary on "Monday Night Football" (Strouse didn't like it), but mostly he covered women's soccer games.  And, get this!, as a young man he managed to write about women athletes, repeatedly, without talking about their appearance or making double entendres or crass remarks.  Really, look for yourself, he wrote about women athletes as athletes, nothing more nothing less.  We know what position they played and how the team did; he never mentions hair color or build.  It's just like reading a sports column about male athletes.  He wrote about them seriously and professionally.  This was 12 years ago.  Today there are grown adult men in the media who cannot manage to write or talk about women athletes without sounding like ill-mannered sniggering junior high school students.  So, again, points for Strouse.

A few of the columns are on life at Columbia.  He takes his fellow students to task for poor behavior and he writes about administrative rules and practices that make student life difficult.  This is standard college fare.  Strouse writes politely, without resorting to name calling or blanket condemnation.  He cites specific examples and events.  It's  not quite up to the standards of a consumer help column but by college newspaper standards it is quite good.

One plus and one minus:  Strouse mentions (Sept.14, 2000) that he worked in the college library.  I worked in the college library when I was a student and in my experience it is a job that pleasant, competent people gravitate towards.  At least the other student workers I came into contact with were nice and competent.  On the minus side he makes a comment (Oct 12, 2000) about short people holding umbrellas in such a way that they poke taller people in the face.  He suggests an umbrella policy for the under 5' 4" crowd.  As a vertically challenged American I call him on that.  If I hold my umbrella up high enough that tall people don't get poked I get wet.  Deal with it.  Every day I come into contact with office chairs, car seats, grocery store shelves, and assorted other structures, that are clearly designed for those of average and above height, and usually for the average male height, which is considerably taller than me.  But this seems a minor point in the larger scheme of things.

As mentioned, the columns are online and I encourage interested voters in the 8th district to take a look for themselves.  The soccer columns may be of especial interest to women voters or to men with daughters.

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