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Sudsy Wants You to Join the Oregon Commentator

Check Plus.

This year’s stable of ODE columnist is hardly a dream team, to say the least. On one end of the spectrum are writers like Matt Petryni, who is frequently readable if often conceptually dodgy (though kudos for standing up to OSPIRG). On the other end are the insipid scribblings of Alex Conley, whose columns often come across as clumsy and self-conscious attempts at trolling.

Situated somewhere betwixt the two is Truman Capps, who comes across like that good-natured Mormon kid you knew in high school who really dug marching band and was preternaturally enthusiastic about just about everything. Mr. Capps’ latest piece, “Do your part for America” echoes the suddenly popular calls to “serve the nation” now that President Obama has assumed power (mercifully, Capps avoids the sort of nauseatingly earnest grovelling that has become synonymous with many Obama supporters). Interestingly, he hits a slightly different note than some of the others currently pimping the “national service” idea:

It’s important now that we start pulling our own weight – not because President Obama wants us to, but because it’s what we should have been doing all along. We’ve got to start taking better care of our parks, roads and neighborhoods – our community gives us more than we realize, but its
[sic] up to us to keep what we’ve got in good working order. [emphasis added]

What Capps actually seems to be describing (whether he realizes it or not) is not President Obama’s “mandatory volunteerism” so much as a renewed sense of individual responsibility. Even supposing that “President Bush… did not want or need the help of the American public”, as he claims, if we really wanted this “change” in our communities Capps admits that we could’ve been doing something about it all along. You know. If people hadn’t been spending their time whining about the Bush Administration and waiting for Obama and the government to come along and fix everything for them.

This is in stark contrast to “self-ascribed moderate” Alex Conley, who is apparently unaware of individual volunteer opportunities and practically chomping at the bit for the government to mandate service so he can “again be proud to be American.” One suspects this noble sentiment arose ex nihilo on January 20th and will wane the next time a Republican occupies the White House.

But volunteering was a worthy pasttime long before the Patriots of January 20th started bombarding us with schlocky YouTube videos and behavior that would be frankly embarrassing from prepubescent girls who got to meet Miley Cyrus backstage. By contrast, Truman Capps seems to grasp that volunteering is a fundamentally individual decision. It’s also one that loses much of its significance and takes on a new, somewhat more sinister character when mandated by the government.

So Truman Capps gets a gold star sticker today. Check plus.

  1. Matt says:

    …okay let me clarify that, I’m not sure I made sense, really:

    Basically, I’m of the pretty strong and not-so-private opinion that the Emerald needs to change or somehow dramatically improve its CMS if it wishes to have any hope of a worthwhile online presence. That top-down College Media Publisher crap, handy as might seem to be, just isn’t gonna cut it, in my view.

  2. Vincent says:

    College Publisher really is awful. I mean, I guess it saves organizations some time and upkeep at the cost of ugly, generic looking websites with terrible interfaces that aren’t really very customizable.

    It’s like the college media version of a crappy Geocities page.

  3. Matt says:


    Haha, I mean our blogging venture ended up ridiculous considering our difficulties with College Media Publisher. Blogging ventures in general… hardly ridiculous. I love blogging ventures! Plus, Alex’s is really quite good once you navigate through the fog that is College Publisher’s ads.

  4. Betz says:

    Cuz’, you know, its kind of hard for a bum to raise the capitol necessary to start an international corporation…

    Jus’ sayin’…

  5. CJ Ciaramella says:

    Not that you’re bitter or anything …

  6. Violet Weed says:

    P.S. Pulling our own weight…. okay, you can ‘clean up’ the parks, but I won’t be doing that, as I clean up AFTER myself, no don’t need to go back and, err, clean up. Besides, if you go around cleaning up, what will be newly hired ‘long-term unemployed’ bums, err, contributing citizens do?

    How about you start a business that eventually turns into an international corporation and you employ over 650 people. How about contributing like that, the way I do?

  7. Violet Weed says:

    hmmm… college student, right? That’s how come you put preternatural and enthusiastic together. ugh. Didn’t read beyond that.

  8. Vincent says:

    Did I get the Mormon bit right? Because that was just a stab in the dark.

  9. Truman says:

    You forgot about the debate team. I was vice president of the debate team, thank you very much.

  10. Daniel says:

    @Matt, Blogging a ridiculous venture? Really? Seriously?

  11. ACFC says:

    OSPIRG will be gone forever Tuesday…you can thank me, the ACFC

  12. ThunderLove says:

    Just be happy we are reading your stuff Petryini

  13. 50 bucks a month says:

    thats all dry wit is worth

  14. Josh M. says:

    God damn it I hate check-minus!

  15. Matt says:

    Correction: I have been informed that ridiculous venture is indeed still going on, just primarily on the News and Sports desks, instead of Opinion. I stand corrected and awkwardly fidgeting while trying to change the subject. The ridiculous venture can be found somewhere on the Emerald’s site, I think just above the where it rivals Yahoo! 1999 and just below where it’s trying to clumsily copy the second-earliest draft of Facebook’s web presence architecture.

  16. Matt says:

    Haha I’ll dodge your conceptualizations! I actually liked Truman’s column a lot, but here I’d just like to casually reference my rant on left-wing nationalism that I posted in response to CJ rather than expounding the whole litany of criticism toward partisan liberals all over again.

    This is why we at the Emerald don’t blog (that ridiculous venture earlier this year aside; I chose to skip that play): we’d be doing this kind of redundant-posting thing on probably a near-daily basis, looking like fools in contrast to the Commentator’s doing it on only a near-bimonthly basis.

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