Talking Politics

Tuesdays at 4:45 p.m.

Is it November 8 yet?


On the Planet Tralfamador Americans are tuning into presidential debates that are enlightening, illuminating and helpful to voters.  There, on the other side of the galaxy, Americans are watching ads on TV and social media that are professionally and substantively addressing the issues that separate the candidates. There Americans are turning out to vote in record numbers in a national show of civic pride and duty.



Alison Barnes Martin

Martha Stevens left her social work and advocacy positions to run for the District 46 House of Representatives seat. Her job experiences gave her ideas for public policies on health care coverage. For Stevens, health care expansion is one of the most critical issues facing Missourians.

Stephen Webber
Kristofor Husted / KBIA

One of the most important issues on District 19 State Senate Democratic candidate Stephen Webber’s platform is strengthening funding for the University of Missouri, and K --12 education as well. He says this is important since education is a major employer in the district.

“But it's also more than that; it's also who we are, in terms of our cultural values, and how we identify ourself; we're an education community, and so it's important in all facets of this area,” Webber said.

Can you endure one more commentary about last week’s presidential debate? If not, tune to sister station KMUC for some fine classical music.


Still listening?




Caleb Rowden
File Photo / KBIA

  Republican State Representative Caleb Rowden is serving a second term in the Missouri House for District 44 and is running for the state senate seat in District 19, previously held by State Senator Kurt Schaefer. Rowden’s platform focuses on economic development, low taxes, government accountability and strengthening Missouri’s public education system.

The University of Missouri and public K-12 education serve as the centerpiece of Rowden’s campaign.

Last Thursday morning I opened my New York Times and choked on my coffee.  Once again Missouri was in the national news and not in a good way.  The lead editorial was a scathing critique of the Missouri legislature’s override of Governor Nixon’s veto of the change to the conceal-carry law.

Daniel Aubuchon

You can find Don Waterman working at the Columbia Bass Pro Shops, checking people out at the register or helping customers find what they’re looking for. But now he’s casting his line for the state legislature.

Waterman is running as the Republican candidate for the District 46 House of Representative’s seat. He got his first taste of politics by working for Danie Moore’s campaign in the 2008 state election primaries. Now, as a candidate, Waterman wants to tackle Missourians’ access to mental health facilities.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

When shoppers browse meat at the grocery store they are confronted with all kinds of brands and labels, making it hard to tell whether the meat they buy comes from animals that were raised humanely. Organic producers want to answer that question more clearly, but conventional farmers are charging that proposed changes to organic standards would amount to unfair government backing of the organic industry.

Poor white people have been in the news a lot lately.  Most obviously they are a target voting group and natural constituency for Donald Trump.  But they are also the subject of some interesting recent non-fiction books.  One memoir entitled Hillbilly Elegy by a guy who grew up in rural Kentucky is actually a best seller, and a couple of others have had a real impact on how people think about this very large group of Americans.

Have you noticed one of the side effects of reality TV?  I guess people actually watch “Naked and Afraid” and “My 600-pound Self”.  I only know about these shows because I surf past them on the way to professional cage fighting and Real Housewives of Las Vegas.  Just kidding about cage fighting.  But seriously, this programming makes voyeurs out of normal people, but more importantly, causes them to think differently about their social and political worlds.

Commentary: Grading the Major Party Conventions

Aug 9, 2016

How did the parties do at the conventions?  Using the late journalist David Broder’s guide here’s how I think they did:

Commentary: The Art of the Acceptance Speech

Jul 26, 2016

I am not a convention junkie.  Mostly I read the day after about what went on.  But I do watch two events live: the presidential nominee acceptance speeches.

At the conclusion of each speech I turn off the TV and write down my impressions.  I am not interested in what the talking heads have to say.  Sometimes the next morning when I catch the analyses I wonder aloud: “Did those people watch the same speech I did?”

Commentary: How to Judge the Party Conventions

Jul 12, 2016

Want to be a political pundit?  Why not?  Everyone else is.

Here’s a starting place: Grading the success of the party nominating conventions.  Timing’s good – the Republican convention starts next Monday.

Commentary: How the GOP is Kinda Like J.C. Penney

Jun 28, 2016
Courtesy CNBC

My wife and I like to shop at JC Penney.  I know, I know – we are not hipsters but, hey, they have great sales.  Penney has been through a lot lately.  Former Apple executive Ron Johnson was hired in 2010 to “update the brand.”  After eighteen months of wrecking the brand, Johnson was fired and the old president rehired.  JC Penney is still struggling as a retailer.

Commentary: Trump and the Media

Jun 14, 2016
Via Flickr user Gage Skidmore

I just finished an interesting book entitled The Republic of Spin by historian and journalist David Greenberg.  It is a history of how presidents have managed mass media.

Finding Humor in the Presidential Primaries

May 24, 2016

I’ve followed American politics since I was a kid.  I teach classes in it at Columbia College.  I talk to you occasionally about it.

Last fall and winter I was telling people, with a fair amount of confidence, that Hillary Clinton was on a glide path to a coronation and with only slightly less confidence that she would beat Jeb Bush in the general election.

Talking Politics - Election Clichés

May 10, 2016
Vote Here sign
File Photo / KBIA

There has been no shortage of clichés to describe this presidential campaign.  But clichés are not necessarily wrong; they’re just tiresome.  Here are three of my favorites:

“It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”  Actually, for the Democrats, it is over.  Clinton will be the nominee.

Over Half of Missouri House Seats Go Unopposed

Apr 29, 2016

In the 2016 general election, there will only be 70 races in which Missouri voters will have a choice to vote for a Republican or a Democrat for state representative. In the other 93 state house districts, there will only be a candidate from one party or the other.

University of Missouri Political Science Professor Peverill Squire says this brings questions of democracy to light.

Talking Politics - Presidential Dynasties

Apr 26, 2016
KBIA file photo

The 1980 election took place a generation ago – an eternity in politics -- and is remembered as the year Ronald Reagan defeated President Jimmy Carter’s bid for reelection.  What is less well remembered is that earlier in 1980, in the Democratic convention, Senator Ted Kennedy tried to defeat Carter for renomination.  His quest ended shortly after a disastrous television interview during which he could not sensibly answer the question about why he wanted to be president.

Talking Politics - Reality Show Campaigns and Negative Ads

Apr 19, 2016
Sully Fox / KBIA file photo

I suppose it is possible for the 2016 presidential campaign to get more strange, and I expect it will.  It is the best reality show ever.  Here are some of the juicy parts:

  • Millions of voters Feeling the Bern
  • Trump and Cruz trading insults – about each other’s wives
  • A Clinton campaign that has been declared too big to fail
  • College students getting the vapors because some mean person chalked the word “Trump” on a sidewalk

Even The Donald and Megan have made up.  You can’t make this stuff up.

Ryan Levi / KBIA

Homelessness is never easy, and that’s especially true in the wintertime when temperatures drop and shelters fill up. Sid Howard and his wife Patricia know this firsthand.


“Me and my wife became homeless Christmas Eve of 2014,” Sid said. “We didn't know what we was going to do.”


“We stayed in hotels,” Patricia said. “Spent up all our money there.”


Talking Politics - Gubernatorial Republican Debate

Apr 5, 2016

The four republican gubernatorial candidates took part in a televised debate in late March, where they answered questions from moderators and from social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. 


The first question focused on Missouri’s unemployment and poverty rate, and what each candidate would do to attract higher paying jobs to Missouri.



Talking Politics - A Huey Long Analogy

Mar 22, 2016
KBIA file photo

Earlier this year I compared Donald Trump to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi because no American came to mind.  Since then an American has come to mind.

This American was definitely a populist, finding passionate support among the dispossessed, discouraged and disillusioned.  He had an outsized personality.  He was unusually effective with his use of media.

Talking Politics - Anthony Weiner Documentary

Mar 1, 2016
Cenetic Media

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year's True/False Film Fest. Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

When directors Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman heard that former New York congressman Anthony Weiner was planning to run for mayor of New York City, they saw it as an opportunity to create a documentary with the classic theme of “redemption.” Weiner was looking to rebuild his reputation after a sex scandal had forced him to resign from Congress two years earlier.

What no one, not even Steinberg or Kriegman, would have guessed was that in the middle of this comeback story, a second sex scandal would break and that their film “Weiner” would end up documenting the collapse of Weiner’s political aspirations once again.

I spoke with Sternberg and Kriegman on their film and how they were able to get Anthony Weiner to be so candid.

File Photo / KBIA

A newly filed piece of legislation that would protect the first amendment rights of student journalists in Missouri public schools and colleges is making its way through the State House. Abby Kempf is a senior at Rock Bridge high school, and one of the editors-in-chief of the school’s journalism program.

Talking Politics- Ribbon Clerks Commentary

Feb 16, 2016
American flag
File Photo / KBIA

Welcome to Talking Politics. KBIA’s weekly show dedicated to talking about local and national politics. On this week’s show Dr. Terry Smith, KBIA’s regular political commentator and a political science professor at Columbia College is back in the studio with a commentary on what the term “ribbon clerks” means in the political arena. 

cindyt7070 / Flickr

Welcome to Talking Politics. KBIA’s weekly show dedicated to talking about local and national politics. Last week, the University of Missouri began its 18 month lecture series it’s calling The African American Experience in Missouri.

Talking Politics - Analogy on Presidential Politics

Feb 2, 2016
The Wingy / Flickr

Welcome to Talking Politics, KBIA’s Weekly show dedicated to talking about local and national politics. Today Terry Smith, a Columbia College political science professor and regular political commentator for KBIA, returns to the show for a commentary about an analogy he sees between a childhood passion of his and today’s presidential politics. The transcription of Terry Smith's commentary is below.

missouri capitol
File Photo / KBIA

Welcome to Talking Politics. KBIA’s weekly show dedicated to talking about local and national politics. On this week's Talking Politics, KBIA’s Sara Shahriari speaks with Missouri Senate President Pro Tem, Ron Richard, and got his take on some of the Missouri legislature’s most pressing issues. 

Talking Politics - Voter Decision Making

Dec 8, 2015
Sean Hobson / Flickr

Welcome to Talking Politics. KBIA’s weekly show dedicated to talking about local and national politics.

On this week’s Talking Politics, Columbia College political science professor, Dr. Terry Smith, is here with a political commentary on voter’s choices and his thoughts on why some people seemingly vote against their own interests.

Dr. Smith is a regular political commentator for radio and television stations throughout Missouri, and has a vast knowledge surrounding the political arena.