Liberal/Conservative Traits in Editorial Columnist Donald Kaul


Donald Kaul, a Tribune Media Syndicate?s newspaper veteran of twenty five years, can be said to be famous for his often sarcastic but astute observations on everything from campaign reform to "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." Occasionally a letter to the editor appears in the newspaper protesting his remarks, usually from a self-proclaimed, right-wing conservative calling him a "bleeding heart liberal." What exactly do these terms mean, however? Are they absolute in what they represent? In general, a conservative opposes social programs and government intervention in business practices. They usually stress Judeo-Christian values as a solution to most issues. Conservatives are opposed to affirmative action, unions, and taxation-- especially of the rich, since they are the ones who provide jobs for the rest. A liberal believes government intervention is necessary to provide all people with equal opportunities before the law. Their most sacred tenets are progressive taxation, welfare, and public education. Liberals stress diversity and individual civil rights. Donald Kaul exhibits more traits of a liberal, although he is a moderate in his beliefs. The subject matter in the articles analyzed were the separation of church and state, gun control, environmental protection, capital punishment, and the rivalry between Republicans and Clinton.

The subjects Kaul writes about are not regional at all; they affect every citizen of America in any region. Broad topics that many can relate to, including current events and popular television shows, are covered in his columns in a satirical way. Often he criticizes issues with an unusual perspective, conveying his message with no fear of rebuke. One example of this is his criticism of William Bennett, the so-called "Virtue Police Chief," as being nothing more than "a pompous blowhard who is easily our single most overrated intellect." A person reading Kaul?s column for the first time may be surprised to discover the author is painfully blunt and to the point, unlike many writers who make desperate efforts not to offend anyone. Donald Kaul is a very sarcastic writer in general. Speaking still of Bennett, he further surprises the reader by saying, "It must be swell to be that much better than other people". What honesty! Being somewhat cynical myself when it comes to the media, I can give Kaul credit for saying what was on everyone else?s mind when they were too scared to do it themselves. An effective tactic when writing his columns is his use of rhetorical questions. In "Australia Takes its Shot at Gun Control," he expresses the pros of personal gun ownership:

Well, yes, the Second Amendment does say thou shalt not register guns, doesn?t it? And the little old lady in the parking lot?my grandmother and yours?what is she to do when a thug of indeterminate ethnic origin accosts her and threatens her life and honor, if she can?t blow him away with her cunning little handgun?

These tongue-in-cheek questions spark the interest of the reader, because they show a potentially serious argument for gun ownership in a comical light. Donald Kaul?s sarcasm permeates most?if not all?of his columns. One such example in "Looney Tunes: Crazies Don?t Deserve All This Attention" is when he writes, "I?d rather write about something funny, like the execution of that convicted killer in Florida last week." Of course, his reason for saying it is funny is to show it is not. A person who is reading Donald Kaul?s writing for the first time has to possess a keen sense of intellect and catch his irony and sarcasm.

Kaul, is without question, a liberal. One can see this not only from his blatantly affected scorn for the conservatives, but from his pro-environment and pro gun-control views, among other things. In "Australia Takes its Shot at Gun Control," he writes that "we should start treating [guns] like we treat other things that kill people?cars and prescription drugs, for example." This quote indicates the leftist viewpoint of having more government at the expense of a free market. Another example of this liberal tenet is from "Sidestepping Leadership on Hot Issues". Kaul advocates control of greenhouse gas emissions from industries, telling his audience not to believe (presumably) the Republican politicians when they say we should not consider it as a problem:

If you?re looking for a straight word on global warming, the last people to ask are oil companies, auto manufacturers, electric companies,