Because you can’t keep a good democracy down — and it hasn’t been for want of official effort the past seven years — the presidential election campaign has generated extraordinary excitement. But some Americans feel slighted as they sit in the heartland with steam issuing from their ears while listening to their favorite cranks on TV and radio.
I speak, of course, of America’s moron community, that large group of dyspeptics who include dopes, mopes and the chronically befuddled. This uncomprehending crew are always the happiest when made the angriest by some ridiculous issue.
In the last week, their manna has come direct from a higher heaven than talk radio. The first tasty offering of silliness du jour came from The New York Times (Motto: “All the News That Gives Right-Wing Nuts Fits”).
For the most part, I think the Times does an excellent job of irritating people who deserve to be irritated. Without its mostly fine reporting, we the people would only know the half of what King George and Sir Dick have been up to. Me the person commends its good work.
If you think differently, let me point out that the Times has a public editor (think of an old-school teacher with a big paddle) who comes along after the reporters write a big story and tells them what they did wrong. After he has demolished their work, he presumably goes off and has lunch by himself.
My point is that you may think the Times very biased, but I have a feeling you don’t have a public editor yourself. Nor does Rush Limbaugh, the government and the greater cast of rascals. In short, even before anyone takes the tennis court to win integrity points against the Times, the newspaper has won the first set.
The public editor, Clark Hoyt, did a fine job Sunday of demolishing the start of a previous story that said — wink, wink — John McCain was so close to a pretty female lobbyist that his staff were worried about the appearance of romance. I thought myself that the innuendo-heavy way the story began was ridiculous in his unproven titillation, and I usually like a bit of titillation as much as the next person.
In his defense of the story to the public editor, Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times, denied that the point was to allege that Sen. McCain had an affair (which he denies). The point, he said, was that the senator behaved in such a way that his close aides felt the relationship constituted reckless behavior.
Well, as a Times reader, I can only say: Pull my other leg, it’s got a bell on it. Clearly, Keller is one of those innocents who read Playboy magazine just for the articles.
But the moron community can stop painting John McCain as the new St. Sebastian pierced by Times arrows. What is self-evidently unfair can only help a candidate. Besides, what prudes at the Times and in the moron community don’t understand is that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing for an old fellah to be thought of as a romantic babe magnet.
It’s true: Many of us seniors are so darn attractive in our decrepitude. I am sure my colleagues worry about my reputation, too. Why, I wish they would tell me to stop flirting with the cafeteria ladies because such flattering criticism would do wonders for my morale.
Another great non-story of the moment is the release of a photograph of Barack Obama wearing Somalian garb in Kenya in 2006. The Obama campaign blamed the Clinton campaign for “the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering.” In turn, the Clinton campaign manager denied this, summoning up all the credibility of the Clintons, which is to say, not very much.
Why this garb should be so shameful and offensive could only be understood by our friends in the moron community, because in the case of foreign garb, there’s a long tradition of Americans being asked to don funny hats and tunics overseas in order to facilitate international understanding and give the locals a good laugh.
But the morons among us will recognize that Obama was wearing a white turban, which to them is the Full Imam, not to be confused with the Full Cleveland, which involves wearing a white belt and matching white shoes and perhaps a leisure suit, garb that may actually be more frightening.
President Calvin Coolidge used to like to put on a full Indian headdress, but I don’t think he was ever accused of worshipping the Great Spirit. But that was about 80 years ago and perhaps it wasn’t yet the custom to constantly insult people’s intelligence. In our time, alas, the innuendo never-end-oh in the moron community.
(Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail rhenry(at)post-gazette.com.)