The New York Times continues to argue against spending cuts, no matter how silly or trivial the program may be. Reporter Adam Nagourney rode to the defense of Sen. Harry Reid’s beleaguered cowboy poets on Monday: “For Cowboy Poets, Unwelcome Spotlight In Battle Over Spending.” Reporting from the small Nevada town of Elko, Nagourney’s tone suggested critics who consider funding cowboy poetry a waste of tax money simply don’t know enough about the program.
This isolated town in the northeast Nevada mountains is known for gold mines, ranches, casinos, bordellos and J. M. Capriola, a destination store with two floors of saddles, boots, spurs and chaps. It is also the birthplace of the annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering, a celebration of range song and poetry that draws thousands of cowboys and their fans every January and receives some money from the federal government.
That once-obscure gathering became a target in the budget battle a world away in Washington last week, employed by conservatives as a symbol of fiscal waste. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, a Democrat and the majority leader, invoked the event in arguing against Republican cuts in arts financing in the budget debate, setting off a conflagration of conservative scorn.