Larry Dale Keeling: David Williams gone, campaign flu lingers

Herald-leader columnistNovember 4, 2012 

Former state Senate President David Williams, of Burkesville

FRANKFORT — Don't know why, but a tune from The Wizard of Oz kept popping into my mind the past couple of days. It's the number in which Dorothy and Glinda the Good Witch join the Munchkins in singing:

"Ding dong, the witch is dead.

"Which old witch?

"The wicked witch!

"Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead."

Except the Dorothy, Glinda and Munchkins in my head changed the words from the movie version. "Witch" became "bully." "Dead" became "gone." And "wicked" became "Burkesville."

Strange. Very strange.

Stranger still, when the singing stopped, Kelsey Grammer's voice piped up with the oddest comment: "David has left the Capitol." (No way I'm going to tarnish the memory of the King when invoking the "Frasier has left the building" line works just as well. Besides, sitcom characters are a much better fit with the Kentucky General Assembly than rock idols are.)

Oh, well, I guess the songs and voices in my head are symptoms of the campaign ad flu afflicting me lately. It has me so shaky I couldn't do the Halloween thing this year. If I had opened the door to see Andy Barr leading around a child sporting Ben Chandler's face, kaboom! I would have had the big one right there on the spot.

It occurred to me the other day there is a reason we trot out ghouls and goblins and vampires and things that go "Bump!" in the night just a few days before the November election. For a couple of hours, fake scary takes our minds away from the truly scary: the fact that some of these folks demonizing each other in attack ads 24/7 for the past several weeks will get elected.

Think about it. We're going to send some people to Washington or Frankfort who believe the best way to win or retain office is to do whatever it takes to convince us the other guys are lower than slug slime, which is difficult if not impossible to do without getting a bit slimy yourself.

If we vote, we often have no choice because, in many races, both sides make the same argument. And at times, too many times, both sides are right.

Sad, this choice between slimy and slimier. But we keep making it, while hoping for the best. We'll do it again Tuesday. Because if we don't keep trying, slimier could win.

Man, this column took a downer turn in a hurry. After starting off so light and breezy, too. This year's strain of campaign ad flu must be particularly viral. But I can beat it and finish on a cheery note.

I was standing there Wednesday when Gov. Steve Beshear told a few media grunts he appointed former state Senate President David Williams to a vacant circuit judgeship because Williams was the most qualified nominee, not just to get rid of a political pain in the posterior. (The last part is my paraphrase, not Beshear's exact words.)

I have to give the governor credit. He kept a straight face while making those comments. I didn't catch even the hint of a smile.

But I may have been distracted because Dorothy, Glinda and the Munchkins chose that exact moment to pop into my mind and break out singing:

"Ding dong, ..."

Reach Larry Dale Keeling at lkeeling@herald-leader.com.

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