I think sometimes political issues are so complicated, they're inaccessible. Like the special election yesterday -- you hear "budget" and "ballot propositions" and your eyes glaze over.
In the last few years, we Californians are starting to feel like college students, with midterms every few months for all the studying up it takes to vote.
Not too hard to understand, really, but you know it will take you a minute and a bit of a commitment and train of thought, so you put it off and move on to the next thing.
Apparently, if you saw the voter turnout yesterday (17.39% of registered voters cast ballots in Los Angeles County, according to the County Registrar's website) a lot of people put it off -- permanently.
Click on this video box to see Sherry Bebitch Jeffe's analysis (in an easy -to-understand two minutes!)
Other political hot potatoes are simpler, and easier to understand -- like one that our morning reporter Robert Kovacik called to our attention on the newscast yesterday afternoon.
It's about the President's dog.
Okay, I can feel your eyes glazing over again. Are we really still talking about Bo, the first dog? Can't we all just cut the Prez a break for getting a purebred? Do we really expect him to do ALL change ALL the time ALL at once? I know, if that's what you're thinking, just hold on and listen for a second.
Our lead morning reporter Robert Kovacik gets up before dawn and works on the big story of the day, doing more before the sun comes up (as you can see in this mobile iPhone upload I poached off his photographer Joel Cooke's Facebook page) than most of us accomplish all day.
He was up yesterday morning in Brentwood, previewing the ballot measures and predicted low turnout, reporting for us out in the field, then came back and put a piece together for a live in-studio hit for the midday at 11am.
Then he got ready to get back to work later, with live reports scheduled on NewsRaw (digital channel 4.2) and then live shots for NBC4 all night from the Trutanich for City Attorney party.
Amid all of this, he managed to get back to the station at 5:30 and present a story he'd been working on for a few days in his "spare" time. In other words, if Robert does a feature story, it's something important that he believes in. Extra Credit, if you will... (for those of us who are still feeling like college students again after "midterms" yesterday.)
This is one of those political stories that is easy to sink your teeth into -- about a promise Barack Obama made when he was a Senator in 2005. He posed for a picture in a book called "A Rare Breed of Love" about a 3-legged rescue dog named Baby, and he promised that when he got a dog, it would be a rescue dog like Baby.
Rescue groups who watch dogs being exploited for breeding or destroyed because of overpopulation were finally ready for an onslaught of pet adoptions from shelters with the Obama Presidency.
"Obama promised Dr. Kohl (the author of the book) that if he ever got a dog for his children, he would adopt," says the Pet News Examiner, "This was confirmed by Michelle Obama when she told Entertainment Tonight that they would "adopt a rescue dog."
Instead, if you watch Robert's story, shelters are getting requests for Portuguese Water dogs.
Yes, the Obamas needed a hypo-allergenic dog -- but guess what, the dog "Baby" in the book that then-Senator Obama is seen cradling and speaking up for looks to me like a purebred Bichon Frise, which is a hypo-allergenic dog. There are a million of them in shelters and roaming the streets all across the country.
So the movement "Bo Needs a Friend" begins. If you go to their website you can see why they're upset -- it's a frustrating missed opportunity for the people who want to give abandoned and unwanted pets a new lease on life. It's a stupid but real fact of life that people see something and then they want to do it too -- Michelle Obama wears a J Crew sweater, it sells out of J Crew stores. You have pugs and dalmatians in the movies, all of a sudden you have pugs and dalmatians in the pet stores and then soon, when the novelty wears off, you have pugs and dalmatians in the shelters looking for homes. Watching perfectly good dogs being killed because there's nowhere for them to go is ridiculously frustrating for animal advocates, and the "Bo Needs a Friend" people hope the President adopts another dog -- a rescue dog -- to keep Bo company and fulfil that simple promise he made a few years back:
"Mr. Obama says America condemns torture, yet puppy mills, overseen by the USDA, are nothing short of legalized torture. Urge him to set a humane example by adopting, creating a win-win: Millions of Americans will be inspired to adopt, emptying the shelters, saving the U.S. billions of dollars, and Bo will have a friend. Please tell the President that this simple act will go a long way toward undoing the damage he and the VP have done to the adoption and anti-puppy mill movement."
Some political issues are hard to understand, as are some campaign promises. And some promises, like "no new taxes," are really hard to keep. Barack Obama got his dog as a gift from Ted Kennedy, and in all fairness, it was a dog that was returned to the breeder by its owner so in some sense you could call Bo a "gently used," if not showroom new, "new-dog-smell" dog -- and how do you say no to the Lion of the Senate?
But one comment after Robert's story sums it up quite well. "Sirius' Mom" (I wonder what kind of dog Sirius is) says to the President: "You and your family can make a huge difference in shelter dogs lives. Besides, two dogs are much better than one. Do the right thing."
Editor's Note: What's even better than two dogs? How about more than 200 of them? Woof!