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Getting a New Handle on Things in the Trump Era

Commentator William Jennings Bryan Oleander is hoping to get a new spatula with a better handle, and a better handle on a few other things too. (Photo by Barney Barnhill)
Commentator William Jennings Bryan Oleander is hoping to get a new spatula with a better handle, and a better handle on a few other things too. (Photo by Barney Barnhill)

There's that old saying, "They don't make things like they used to." For Commentator William Jennings Bryan Oleander, that expression is true for both spatulas and politicians.

Commentator William Jennings Bryan Oleander is also known as Tom Averill, professor emeritus at Washburn University. He lives in Topeka.



"Humpty Trumpty"
By Tom Averill

Folks, my favorite spatula broke.  One of the large rivets that holds the handle in place gave way, and the small rivet securing the flat, perfectly-shaped metal that so fits an egg, is worn, the metal cracking.  I used to be able to flip eggs easy over, done just the way I like them.  Now, with the new spatulas available to me, I’m starting over, an amateur with the frying pan again.  

Did you ever notice—or perhaps you’re not old enough—that when your favorite “anything” breaks, you won’t be able to replace it?  My father pounded spoons on his anvil to make his spatulas, and he would have hated mine.  I’d like to take these new spatulas and pound them to smithereens on that same anvil.

I know it’s not just about spatulas, folks.  These days, I’m not just having problems with chicken eggs.  From the perspective of Here, Kansas, the world seems a bad-egg, scrambled mess.  Chief Bad Egg is Donald Trump.  I’ll call him Humpty Trumpty, as he sits on the wall he’s promised to build, teetering, and tweeting.  In fact, he’s building all kinds of walls: between himself and the press, between the U.S. and world leaders, between native and foreign-born immigrants, between people of different religions, and between people of different cultures and races.  Some hope he’ll fall, but so far, all this king’s horses and all the king’s men are working hard to keep him together, again and again, in spite of the lowest approval rating of any president at this point in a first term.  

Folks, I do have a good spatula to help me get a handle on this large and complicated world—riveted by the great reporting of public radio, public television, and good newspaper and magazine writing.  In spite of being threatened with budget cuts, and being made the “enemy” by those in politics, and being ridiculed as “fake news” by our Humpty Trumpty president, traditional journalism still gives me the news, sustaining me like an easy-over egg.  

Still, I’m struggling, because we’re losing so many of the handles that help us hold our society together.  Where are the handles of truth, of compromise, of justice?  Where is the desire for good will and peace?  Where is the public good among all the private rights we’ve come to put first?  And where is leadership that might help us all make sense of a chaotic world? We certainly haven’t found true leadership qualities in Humpty Trumpty.  We’ve found a bad egg, poised to fall.  

So leadership will have to come from we ordinary people, one statement at a time, one vote at a time, one march at a time.  We can, and we will, get a handle on this spatula-broken time in our nation’s history.