Since 2002, Curt Smith has written a regular column for GateHouse Media, available to its newspapers around the country, including Messenger-Post in Rochester, New York, his home. Topics include politics, sports, education, culture, and the economy: one week, 9/11’s legacy; another, raising children; another, “the awful wonder of memory.” Smith often swims against the tide, scoring each major political party, defending America’s “good quiet decent people” – the great middle class.
To Smith, illegal immigration deserves bipartisan guilt. “For eight years, George W. Bush spouted non sequiturs from a non sequitur mind,” he wrote. “Under been there, Barack Obama did that, too, letting illegal aliens migrate. Mr. President, what part of this sentence didn’t you grasp: ‘In America, no one gets to break the law'?” A 2016 column wrote of Obama’s support of Sanctuary Cities: “Historically, sanctuaries existed to protect the innocent. Today, they exist to protect the guilty.”
Smith’s column has written of every modern-day President. Bush 43 “hadn’t known what he didn’t know.” By contrast, a decade after his death, Ronald Reagan had become Olympus. “His autobiography was An American Life. Reagan was an American Original.” His last decade showed the terrible tragedy of Alzheimer’s disease for the victim and his or her family: “robbing the aging of a companion they cherish as friends die and family dwindles – losing memory when they need it most.”
Upon First Lady Barbara Bush’s death in 2018, Smith wrote of “the many Bars – all real – from which to choose. She was Angela Lansbury, inviting you for coffee at Murder She Wrote’s Cabot Cove, Maine – the Bushes’ favorite White House-age TV. She was redolent of Barbara Stanwyck in, say, Cattle Queen of Montana. You expected her to ford a stream, take the hill, or ward off the Indians till the Cavalry came.” Many empathized with both – “Barbara Bush Superstar! and the persona of your favorite aunt.”
One column addressed Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s decision to retire. Ryan “relates to humans theoretically, as if life were figures on a chess board, not humans on a globe.” Even before Eric Schneiderman’s humiliating 2018 fall from grace, the columnist called New York’s then-Attorney General “a bully and fraud who would brow-beat his own mother.” A decade earlier, prior to Eliot Spitzer’s Client 9 sexcapade, Smith was the first columnist in New York to urge Spitzer to resign as Empire State Governor.
Other Smith columns have eschewed politics for a personal and cultural lilt: tributes to First Lady Pat Nixon, singer Kate Smith, and boxer Floyd Patterson; America’s and the United Kingdom’s “Special Relationship”; and Saint Jean, Loyola-Chicago’s 2018 overnight college basketball saint, at 98 “clearly not wanting to peak too soon.” He wrote of the magic of the 1950s American car; less magically, Starbucks’ pretension; and most sadly, the continued economic decline of New York State.
When Billy Graham died in early 2018, Smith wrote how he had “become a thread that tens of millions of Americans clung to as culture turned mean and base. He stood there, fearless, a steadfast force for good – his mission, to illumine the kindly light that led, his weapon language, which he thought poetry, not prose, and talk to fellow sinners, whom he always treated with respect.”
Smith’s next column evoked Sir Thomas Moore, runner Roger Bannister, John Wayne, and Martin Luther King, Jr., reading, “All hailed from a common core – character born of courage. We used to teach that noble core, prize it. We now ignore, even mock, it. We have paid an awful price. Look around.”
Readers are invited to e-mail Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find his GateHouse Media columns, go to their flagship paper, The Canandaigua Daily Messenger http://www.mpnnow.com/opinions/columns