Partisan Hackery

PARTISAN HACKERY….Over at Tapped, the boys are discussing whether America would be better off if the media junked the fiction of “objectivity” and just adopted the European habit of sporting an open ideology. Ezra Klein suggests that although overt ideology might be OK, “A bunch of partisan outlets would be a problem. There’s nothing honest or constant about their opinions, and so the whole advantage of knowing their beliefs evaporates when the beliefs become inconvenient and change.”

Family honor compels me to disagree. Here is the notice in the Piatt [pronounced Pie’-utt, by the way] County Republican in July 1900 announcing the first issue of the Cerro Gordo Star, my great-grandfather’s third newspaper:

Eli Drum has again resumed….Eli has been a republican and then a democrat and now has decided to become ? a populist and extract sweetness from both the old parties. In fact Cerro Gordo is not healthy place for a democratic paper.

Is Ezra calling my great-grandfather dishonest? Inconstant? Just because he apparently picked whichever party ? or non-party ? happened to be convenient depending on where and when he was setting up a printing press?

I demand satisfaction. Typewriters at twenty paces.

POSTSCRIPT: And what’s this “Get there Eli” business all about? Beats me. A Google search informs me that Eli Perkins was the pen name of one Melville Landon, a stage humorist and author of Wit, Humor and Pathos. Apparently his catchphrase became popular to describe someone who was a striver, a go-getter, a person who never gave up. Eli Drum’s second paper (the Democratic one, presumably) started up in 1890, but the phrase predates that. For example:

1883: Our people are free and untrammeled, and “get there Eli” every time.

1884: By his indomitable will, his sterling qualities, and his quiet, unassuming “get there Eli” and bound to succeed spirit, has kept climbing up the ladder round by round, until he is nearing the topmost.

1886: Belle Plaine is a get there Eli kind of a town, a sure go town, a good kind of a town to tie to.

1889: The people are glad to hear Colby is to have a mill. Colby knows how to get there, Eli.

1893: He was always one of the “get-there-Eli” boys.

1903: “‘All right,’ says he. ‘I’ll do it, and it’s “Get there, Eli!” when I hook dirt….

1919: “Oh, I don’t mind! Pick on me all you like, ? either of you. I suppose there are some frills I’m not onto, ? but I’m quick at catchin’ on, ? and I’ll get there, Eli!”

There is also a song called “Get There Eli,” and a town in Nebraska named Eli whose residents are under the misimpression that it was originally named Get-There-Eli because that was the nickname of one of its original residents.

Wasn’t that fun?