- The Washington Times - Friday, March 19, 2004

Nobles: Brian Lamb, for providing the public an unprecedented view of politics in action.

Before the C-SPAN era, politics was really a backroom business. Even speeches from the well of the chamber could be seen by only the members of the public who happened to be in the galleries. Those dark ages of politics ended 25 years ago, on March 19, 1979, when the first C-SPAN camera clicked on.

C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb designed the network to be democratic — to give the public continuous coverage of Congress in action. It has done so in remarkable fashion. About 30 million viewers tune into the network each week. C-SPAN has shown more than 25,000 hours of gavel-to-gavel coverage of the action on the House floor. C-SPAN2 does the same for the Senate. When Congress is not in session, the network covers politicians politicking — it has already carried more than 2,000 hours of the 2004 presidential campaign.

Amazingly, there’s no taxpayer money involved. Cable companies that chose to carry C-SPAN (there is no federal mandate to do so) charge viewers about a nickel apiece. Those fees provide the not-for-profit network its operating budget of about $40 million.

While his company has grown, Mr. Lamb has remained a self-effacing Midwesterner. A Hoosier by birth, Mr. Lamb worked a variety of communication jobs en route to earning his degree from Purdue. He came to Washington in the 1960s, but has retained his sensibilities. In his office, scattered among the more than 760 non-fiction books he has read for his “Booknotes” series, are more than 30 Tweety Bird figurines.

For making the political sausage-making process both palatable and open to public consumption, Mr. Lamb is the Noble of the week.

Knaves: Howard Dean, for unabashedly blaming President Bush for the bombing in Madrid.

Mr. Dean has made several scandalous charges against Mr. Bush, most notably the “interesting theory” that the president had been warned in advance about September 11.

This week he laid the blame for the lives lost in Madrid train bombings on Mr. Bush. In a telephone conference with reporters, Mr. Dean argued, “The president was the one who dragged our troops to Iraq, which apparently has been a factor in the death of 200 Spaniards over the weekend.”

Sen. John Kerry — whose presidential campaign had arranged the conference call — distanced himself from the remark. He told reporters, “It’s not our position.”

Mr. Dean’s statement would be laughable if he were not in such a prominent position. The former Democratic frontrunner just launched a new political action group designed to beat Mr. Bush, and he is expected to campaign hard for Mr. Kerry through the fall.

For trying to stain Mr. Bush’s hands with the blood of Spanish innocents, Mr. Dean is the knave of the week.

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