Saturday, September 06, 2008

Charlie Reese Retires

Syndicated columnist (and, as shockingly few locals knew, Pensacola High School alum) Charlie Reese has retired. J. Earle Bowden has a personal anecdote and a tribute in today's PNJ:
Charley, ever honest about life and its consequences, has closed a long career with a farewell column that appearing in Wednesday's News Journal.

Sadly, he lamented: "I'm not sure there is even a Charley Reese without the column," but he'd rather quit before editors and readers know he should.


As a beginner he quickly honed his sentences, writing crime stories from the shoe leather grind of the police beat, political coverage that answered hard questions; and finally, digging through Tallahassee records, investigating Robert Lee Fulton Sikes, popular Florida First District congressman whose name turned up on many business corporations. Newspapers then lacked judicial protection against public officials; Sikes blasted the News Journal and squeezed a terse editorial page apology.

* * *

Now he leaves a hole on this page; readers will miss his memorable, provocative opinions that hit 'em right between the eyes.

Reese was always an enigma to us. He was a fervent Vietnam war hawk in the '60s, but rabidly anti-war in the years following. He often espoused libertarian opinions but disavowed the libertarian movement. He worshiped the Confederacy but came to oppose bigotry of every kind. He voted for Nixon in 1968 and Bush in 2000 but now considers Nixon a criminal and Bush "a blunderer of the first order." He voted for John Kerry in 2004 and supports Barack Obama today.

There were only two constants to Reese that we could see. One was his basal distrust of the high and mighty. The other was his independence of mind. Charlie Reese wrote what Charlie Reese thought. He didn't merely riff off whatever other columnists or the TV hair-dos were saying.

And, as Bowden says, he was provocative. For decades he has been a fixture on the editorial pages of many newspapers throughout middle America, to the cheers of some and the outraged howls of others. We should know; we've been at one time or another in each of those camps.

The one certainty we have about Charlie Reese is that everyone is the poorer for losing his unique contributions to the public discourse.

1 comment:

contactos en madrid said...

Very useful material, much thanks for the article.