November 3, 2010 - October 27, 2010
I saw an abbreviated clip and thought it was the whole thing.
It wasn't. The whole thing is funnier. Just thought I'd share. Golly,
Shatner's short, just a little bit of a thing, though round. Sarah's
just a little bit of a thing, too, though more nicely rounded.
I know that title sounds pompous. I apologize. But
guy who's apparently the new up-and-comer in standup comedy. Anthony Jeselnik.
don't know what to make of him. On the one hand, he's obviously
brilliant, innovative, and so sure of himself he can tell jokes in about thirty
words that other comedians would pad and string out for minutes. He's not hangdog, ugly, pitifully horny, nerdy, obsessed with
four-letter words and, uh, tits,
scatological, self-deprecating, or desperate for approval. He even
congratulates himself on the quality of his material. ("That joke was perfect.") On the
other hand, he's also, almost provably, a true sociopath. So there are
A lot of questions. In an interview he admits to having a back pocket full of jokes that are "too soon." Deaths of celebrities, etc, whose passing requires immediate ridicule that he'll remove from his act before anyone else thinks it's acceptable to put into their act. I've watched him. It's the oddest feeling. He's funny. And he isn't. Both at the same time. I can't tell if my ambivalence is because he's young and I'm old, or if it's because he's doing a Lenny Bruce kind of thing -- daring us to laugh at what our very souls tell us isn't funny but is.
It's hard not to like him when he takes down a pure dumb-cluck jerk like Dane Cook:
It's hard to like him when he tells the joke he skewers Dane Cook for
failing, finally, to tell.
And then there's the sociopath thing. I saw a performance of his on the Comedy channel. Toward the end of his act he told two jokes, one of which he regarded as immeasurably worse than the other. I can't tell them the way he can, but you tell me which one is the worse:
So here's the thing. It's the end of his act. He explicitly
acknowledges that people come up to him and say, "You're funny, but we
have concerns about you as a person." He tells us, on the way to his
concluding punchline about what a dick he is, that people can tolerate
the first joke but not
the second. Huh?
HUH? A joke about a drowned baby is materially less offensive than a joke about an accidentally killed newlywed? Thanks for making that clear. Tell it to the Behavioral Analysis Unit at Quantico.
Part of me is saying he's more than a comedian: he's pointing out that we have it in us to laugh at this kind of cruelty, which is its own kind of satirical comment on his audience. Which would be a kind of literary performance art. Laughing, in that case, would be a kind of split-reed music of life. Not Seinfeld, to be sure, but smarter and just possibly funnier because the joke is never the joke. WE are the joke he is telling his human commentary to.
Another part of me is saying, he really doesn't know that the dead baby joke is the worse joke by far. He should be locked up. On general principles.
I don't know. What it means that he's the hottest comedian on the scene. What he means by his incredibly dark jokes. What I make of the fact that I laughed my ass off at his Dane Cook impression. There's a certain command there, undeniable. It's like he's coercing you to laugh.
Is that what comedy is in the New Age of Obama? God help me, I admit he makes me laugh. Must be the punk in me. Am I as evil as he is?
. It's Sunday. Which means Fox News Sunday, ESPN
wrap-ups of Saturday sports, and NFL coverage on what is increasingly
the most illuminating source, the NFL Network.
So there was the panel on the Chris Wallace Fox News Sunday show, where we saw a 180-degree flip-flop on Barack Obama's latest speech -- three conservatives offering qualified praise for the Nobel acceptance address and Juan Williams expressing unqualified outrage that the president would depart from his practice of unmitigated bashing of America on foreign soil even once. Personally, I wasn't that impressed by the intended irony. Williams hews to far-left talking points more than I think he believes in his heart because it so embarrasses him to agree with conservatives in public that he tends to overstate his differences with them. Something about credibility with the liberal base, I suspect. And something about protesting too much. The conservatives, on the other hand, appear to be trying to play nice with Obama in this instance because they would like to see more expressions of the president's alliance with his own country, not deter him from same by ripping into him when he takes a baby-step toward actual American citizenship.
Then there was the ESPN reportage of the annual Army-Navy confrontation in Philadelphia. I admit I'm finessing this part of the Sunday theme. Like many others, I watched as much of the football game as I could bear to. For several years now, I've been rooting all out for Army because they're on a losing streak that shows no sign of ending anytime soon. The CBS coverage was indifferent at best. We don't get to see the grand entrances of the cadets and midshipmen into the stadium, and thanks to TV avarice, we don't get to see any half-time activities at all. The announcers (Vern Lundquist and Gary Danielson) were almost boasting about their determination to cover the event "as a football game," which is weaseling to an astonishing degree, because it is clearly far more than that. As this clip from a post-game interview with the Navy coach made clear:
So maybe I imagined more than saw the ESPN post-mortem of another
dismal performance by Army -- their third straight year without a
touchdown against Navy -- and the complete silence on what I considered
the biggest story of the game. The absence of the Commander-in-Chief
for whom the game's trophy is named. I know that presidents usually
attend only a game or two even in eight years of office, but surely this was a year in which Obama should have attended. Barely a week
ago, he ordered 30,000-plus new troops into Afghanistan, choosing as
his backdrop for the announcement West Point and its corps of cadets.
Cynics accused him of using the U.S. Military Academy as a prop.
Defenders said, as is their wont, "Oh stop it."
But I refuse to stop it. When the president attends the Army-Navy game, halftime is no longer a toss to the network for a roundup of Heisman hype, basketball scores, and Division II playoff games between schools no one's ever heard of. It's the moment when the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military crosses the field at the fifty-yard line to demonstrate ceremonially what the Navy coach expressed emotionally -- that a game is only a game and that we all owe impartial, non-partisan support to both of these great, heroic branches of the service which have done so much to defend our freedoms.
But the president wasn't there. Secretary of Defense Gates tossed the coin before the game. Cool. But where was the president? Resting up between his overseas trips to Norway for personal honors at the Nobel ceremonies and to Copenhagen for another egoistic commitment to spend American treasure on behalf of the 'world community' while his own country languishes in economic adversity and uncertainty. So much for fine words at West Point and Oslo. But I haven't heard a single solitary word of recognition, let alone criticism, that the president of the United States didn't see fit to honor the youth, vitality, and humanity of the U.S. military by participating in the pageantry of the great annual contest in Philadelphia.
Does any of this begin to explain the YouTube video above? Well, to me it does. The final portion of that video I saw on the NFL Network this morning. It moved me. In its own right and in the context of Fox News Sunday and ESPN. Our president is fond of implying that capitalism is somehow a bane of American existence, that it crushes rather than ennobles American experience. That business interests and the profit motive are antithetical to the ideal of human aspiration and self-actualization. Well, in some sense, the NFL is corporate capitalism at its worst. Isn't it? Tycoon owners, ruthless manipulative factotums below them who exploit the naive and vulnerable for their own gain...? Isn't it at least roughly analogous to the autocracy of the military? A bunch of dumb victims commanded by soullessly mean men who like killing and brainwash their troops into criminal acts?
Which is the exact point at which the video above becomes Exhibit A of what President Obama doesn't understand about America. Matthew Stafford, quarterback of the Detroit Lions, the losingest team in football, has a multi-million-dollar contract as a franchise player in the NFL. He gets hurt at the end of a game whose loss won't materially change his team's season. He is in tremendous, obvious pain. There isn't anybody, not even in the NFL, who could say a word of rebuke if he allowed himself to be hustled into the dressing room while his team goes down the drain. He is surrounded by trainers and coaches who want to know only how and how badly hurt he is.
Then he hears the other side call time-out. His immediate response has nothing to do with his contract, his money, his future with the team... It's about the sudden possibility of winning the game and believing that he is in a position to do exactly that.
So he switches, in an instant, from being an agonizingly hurt player to a player demanding ("Let me up. Get off me.") that he be allowed to return to the game and win it.
Which he does.
That's the American story to me. One could claim that the extraordinary discipline and self-sacrifice of Army-Navy footballers is a function of a certain kind of propaganda. (Hell, as Obama might observe, it could be the same with the Republican Guards of Iran. Give the military a long enough leash...) But Stafford is simply a more gifted and high-profile version of an American mentality that is spread throughout the land. An American cliche that isn't a cliche because it's so often true. Americans respond to crisis. They ask more of themselves. They demand of themselves what no external agent can. They're there -- they're here -- to win.
Obama doesn't know anything about this aspect of the country he was born in. I don't believe he will ever learn it. Which is why he has to be turned out of office at the first opportunity. I mean, when all is said and done, where was he during the Army-Navy game?
A lovely piece, really. Of fiction. Go ahead. Read the whole thing. It
has a kind of periodic, Samuel Johnson inevitablity about it. Except
that it's entirely and completely wrong. A sample:
He even specified, without recognizing it, why he's wrong about his
A classic conservative error. Confusing the state of "being right" with
the state of "winning."
Now it's time for a demonstration of the doctrine of preemption. Nobody admires Doctor Zero more than I do, but I proved this particular attempt at persuasion doomed before he wrote it. Go here and see.
Sorry. Logic, reason, and reality have nothing to do with their insane religion. They will never stop.
Never ever ever stop. They're
the dead man who just can't stop cumming on images of disaster.
Why we can't celebrate. Just reload our guns.
. My commentary on a couple of recent posts. InstaPunk didn't
quote what I thought was the best excerpt from Andrew Klavan's
interview. It has to do with the real mission of conservatives:
It's interesting to note that TruePunk's post "Got
the Picture yet...?" drew only one comment while his comical
rant about the female journalist who wants, absurdly, to establish
a worldwide one-baby policy got at least some traction with readers. The
first post was far more important and dire in the immediacy of the
threat it described, of course, and its one comment was, perhaps
predictably, cynical and defeatist:
Strangely passive, don't you think? Some party has to come up with a
plan, present it to me, and convince me to take the hour or two out of
my day required, on some future Tuesday in November, to vote for them.
Yes, the republic is being demolished day by day before our eyes, but I
seem to remember that Reagan didn't accomplish everything he intended
to, either. Why bother?
There are several good responses to the 'Why bother?' question, and that's the purpose of this post. To lay them out so that cynics who prefer to see themselves as detached, superior observers might contemplate a different level of engagement.
The most direct answer is that Klavan is right. "Conservatives are sort of like the doctors who are trying to keep America alive as long as we can." The patient is always on the table, threats to his life never end, and the victories we earn are always partial and temporary. Because the death we're seeking to delay is always on the offensive, always probing for weaknesses, always eager to seize on the one unguarded moment and strike the fatal blow they imagine to be justice.
The notion that the battle for life can ever be finally won and lead to 'happily ever after' is a Utopian fantasy. And Utopia is not a conservative concept. It's a left-wing conceit, very probably the most flawed of a panoply of weak-minded conceits they exalt in place of common sense.
Utopia is a dangerous fiction created by arrogant abstraction. It is a fiction because it forces life into a static model in which matters of life and philosophy are treated like constant terms in an algebraic equation. All the good and bad things of life are distributed unequally. Justice equals rectifying the inequities, balancing the equation. This is a purely intellectual concept, which is why -- despite their poverty of clever or innovative policy ideas -- they continue to believe that they are the smart ones and conservatives are ignorant neanderthals. The arrogance -- apart from their blind faith in a doomed analogy between math and life -- lies in their belief that some small percentage of the right people can deduce from the messy reality of the human condition a set of terms and precise relationships that can be summarized on a blackboard.
But when you think you can solve life like an equation, you are the very worst kind of fool, which is why every left-wing social construct has resulted in financial ruin, human disaster, and unspeakably shocking violence. They see end results in terms of answers that come out even, not as a cascade of unintended and accelerating consequences with infinities of repeating remainders. That's why the Utopian fiction is dangerous. The math is all wrong, the equations are all false, and the intellectual insights they produce are all off the mark. Their misbegotten brilliance consists of over-analyzing snapshots of a movie that keeps rolling and changing in proliferating complexity, literally without end. There is no 'happily ever after.' Only 'after.'
The current climate change hysteria is, in fact, a perfect microcosm of liberal hubris. Climate scientists have created mathematical models of climate, which produce discrete calculations via set algorithms of phenomena that are not discrete. The models are not the climate of the earth, which is so vast, complex, and loaded with so many variables that even the most complicated model represents a gross oversimplification of what occurs in reality.
[An aside: some National Review editor or commenter spoke slightingly of the "English majors" who have mucked up the internet with skepticism about climate science. I'm an English major. But guess what. English majors know something about writing. Which is exactly what a mathematical model is. It's an edited version, hopefully stripped down to the right essentials, of the whole it purports to represent. Choices are involved. Stuff is left out. Whether it's the right stuff or not is not a matter of science; it's a matter of talented judgment. English majors may be exactly the right people to point out that a 'model' of any kind, like a short story or a novel, is not nearly the same thing as a coldly controlled and spotlessly objective scientific experiment. Did you know that many of the best software programmers -- computer modelmakers -- started out as English majors? The talents required are very similar. Just saying.]
Another complicating factor. Climate science is occurring in what is pompously called "The Academy," meaning universities that are so stuffed with lefties it's more than likely that the liberal confusion between social equality (i.e., justice) and mathematical equations might very well affect the incentives of ambitious academics if not the very use of the scientific method. How many of the current ruling powers of the scientific establishment began their journeys toward PhDs as Vietnam draft dodgers? Not an idle question. A lot of them. People who always told themselves they wanted to "make a difference," just like the post-Woodward and Bernstein journalists who are now reporting on what they do.
What can we expect from the terrible union of science and ill-conceived notions of social justice that look very much like algebraic equations? More static 'solutions' that fail completely to anticipate real world consequences.
That's the point of the YouTube video above. All the 'liberals' who are trying to save us from ourselves via dramatic totalitarian impositions on an economy they can't help regarding as a static machine which can be tinkered into faultless compliance have never given the slightest thought to what will happen when they drive a stake into the heart of the world's capitalist, life-saving and life-enhancing organism.
Our nation, and the global economy, is not a machine that can be fine-tuned like a mathematical model. It is the most complex and highly sophisticated form of life on earth. When you deprive it or starve it of the food it needs to survive, it will move, like all life forms, into 'fight or flight' mode. Its component cells will begin to break down, disease will ensue, and the symptoms will not be modestly reduced GDP figures, but a variety of convulsive reactions that will lead, inevitably, to scenarios like the one depicted in The Road Warrior. Yes, you can PhotoShop a snapshot to make it look the way you want. But you can't drop a trillion ton anvil on the head of civilization itself and expect anything but terrifying death throes.
Nothing new for the lefties. They never anticipated the 50 million killed by Stalin. Or the like number killed by Mao Tse Tung. And I'm not talking just the ones these arrogant social engineers deliberately ordered murdered. I'm talking about the deaths by famine, incompetent emergency response and medical care in the face of real natural disasters, the plain bad service of a system without incentives to do good work, the permanently blighted lives of those who received no education, hope, or meaning in their oh-so rational lives as units of a perfectly rational social equation.
Now the United States -- of all nations that have reason to understand the disastrous mistakes of relying on technocrat math as a substitute for individual human aspiration -- is moving aggressively to turn its own people into units of a grand mathematical equation of social justice. Utopia awaits. With all its horrors, breakdowns, miseries, and slaughters.
But, uh, Reagan didn't entirely succeed at what he set out to do. So we should, uh, like, wait for Perot or Paul or Palin or someone else to convince us that it's really time to vote...
No. Reagan quite unexpectedly trounced Carter because Carter was an incompetent little self-righteous prick. That situation was utterly unlike OUR situation. Obama is incompetent, yes, but he's also a malevolent, malignant narcissist who's set on a vision of marxist Utopia that will, if it succeeds, bring about the civil breakdown imagined above in The Road Warrior. That's worth getting off your ass about if you're a conservative OR a liberal.
Why the latter? You liberals... Who do you want to bet on in the survival sweepstakes that will follow the dissolution of the global technological economic system? When it collapses because capitalism is crushed by suicidal ideologues and their thralls in the world of academe and government? The federal bureaucrats, attorneys, journalists, professors, tree-huggers, and Hollywood faces that constitute your home team? Or the flyover entrepreneurs, farmers, welders, gun-huggers, criminals, religious fanatics, and ex-military types who know how to hunt, how to fix broken mechanical equipment, how to make do in straitened circumstances, and how to take what they need from those who never knew that anything was worth defending?
O you jaded ones... this is why the tea party people are out there. They know in their bones what's at stake. If you don't, you're way behind the curve and falling farther behind every day.
Time to think about catching up? Ya think? Maybe?
Time to tell the people running for office exactly what we expect -- and how swift the punishment will be if they fail to keep their promises...?
You tell me.
. Just to correct the record, it wasn't only
Glenn Beck who expressed alarm, or at least misgivings,
about all the czars in the Obama administration who are empowered to
make policy without being accountable to congress:
Of course, Tom Ridge did eventually appear before congress to be
confirmed as Secretary of Homeland Security when the congress created a
cabinet-level department of homeland security. But there's little sign
that the Obama administration is willing to let congress have any
access to so-called White House staffers, even those who are not as regally titled as czars. For example, it appears that the concept of
"executive privilege" now applies even to the White House social
secretary whose ad hoc
approach to guest screening permitted gate crashers admission to a
state dinner attended by a foreign prime minister.
What's also becoming evident is that the Obama administration is fully prepared to work around congress on any issue the president thinks he knows better about, which is, basically, all of them. Here's an end-run not too many have heard about:
Yeah, this kind of thing has been done before, but it gets more
concerning when the administration is pursuing a radically new foreign
policy -- kowtow to our enemies and snub our friends -- that has even
our oldest and most loyal allies in a state of near
It gets even worse when the willingness to bypass congress becomes an expression of actual contempt and naked blackmail. Here's an excerpt from last night's panel on Special Report:
Interesting indeed. It also, I think, reveals the administration's real
modus operandi regarding healthcare. If EPA is willing to brazenly, retroactively rewrite the
1970 Clean Air Act to give itself the power to regulate emissions not
even remotely seen as dangerous when the bill was passed, how will The
HHS department approach the task of implementing any healthcare bill
passed by the congress? The slapped together nature of any legislative
language passed under the current artificially breakneck deadline will,
of course, require the writers of the enforcing regulations to sort out
what it all means. The bill, regardless of its incoherent content, will
become what the administration wants it to be. Meaning that if the real
objective is to destroy private health insurance and compel everyone to
accept a monolithic single-payer system, that objective can easily be
accomplished in the fine print of Obama's appointed bureaucrats. That's why the president endorses
every single version of the bill that surfaces momentarily from the
boiling congressional cauldron. He's not indifferent to the outcome.
He's indifferent to what congress ultimately passes because he can make what congress
passes into what he wants it to be.
[You see, for all his well advertised lack of executive experience, the president does excel in one sinister skill -- subverting the democratic political process for anti-democratic ends. That's perhaps the best possible definition of the term 'community organizer.' It consists of playing the democrat in public and manipulating the enforcement mechanics behind the scene. That's how feelgood ideas like "home ownership for the underprivileged" become catastrophic bubbles and sinkholes of institutional corruption. "Let me be clear." The man has "unprecedented" talent at this kind of dirty work.]
The same is conversely true of cap-and-trade legislation. The EPA can do what it wants by diktat. A piece of legislation would be convenient cover for what EPA is going to do anyway. The only remaining question is, just how big a dupe congress is willing to be. Pass a bill that EPA will nonetheless rewrite in the fine print to "destroy the economy" or resist the presidential extortion threat and pretend somehow that they won't be blamed for the terrible consequences regardless.
What's happening here is raw and in-your-face. The Obama administration is systematically dismantling the separation of powers, rendering congress irrelevant. The Democratic leadership, inflated by its own lunkheaded hubris (God, what f___ing fools they are), thinks it's leading the charge for Obama liberalism. Instead, they're playing directly into the hands of Obama, the relentless terminator of American economic power and individual liberty. Why does he prefer Chavez, Castro, Ahmadinejad, the Emperor of Japan, and the King of Saudi Arabia to Gordon Brown, Maliki, Karzai, the Queen of England, and the King of Norway? There is an answer that makes sense. It involves power, divinity, and contempt for compromise. You work out the rest. But the biggest part of it is power.
In the modern high-tech world, what do you need to establish totalitarian power beyond the administrative capacity to control absolutely the prospects for economic success (or failure) and the bodies, lifestyles, and access (or lack of it) to medical treatment of the citizenry? Play ball and win, and live, or resist and fail and die in a dirty hallway. (An aside: have you ever seen the man shed a tear?)
Well, maybe you'd want some additional control over the right to free expression. Heard about this, have you?
We all know that the real resistance to Obama isn't to be found in the
MSM; it exists primarily on the Internet. Maybe this is how you get
reelected even when everything you've done as president is directly
contrary to the interests of the people. As Kyle Reese said, "It can't
be bargained with, it can't be reasoned with, it doesn't feel pity or
remorse or fear, and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are
What we have to fight back with is elections. It's time for us to make some electoral miracles happen. And, no, the answer isn't third parties. Remember, the Americans and Brits hooked up with some sorry-ass allies to win World War II. When they're coming for you like this, you better be willing to hold your nose and remember the sad truism, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Obama and his dupes must be turned out of office, legally, convincingly, and above all, peacefully. That's the only definition of victory that will stand the test of time.
Years ago, we pointed in passing at a necessary read by David
Horowitz, because the best way to understand the left is to read
the process by which leftists become conservatives. That's why this interview
with Andrew Klavan is a signal opportunity. Everyone should read
the whole thing, but I'll produce a few excerpts just to make the whole
Well. Read it all. It's the gold nugget of the day.
There's only one thing I want. I want the left to realize that they
hate themselves, civilization, and the whole human race. Then I'll be
content. Until then, I have to keep citing crap like this:
I could cite a lot of stuff here. Mark Steyn on the catastrophic
decline of the populations of the only civilized nations. Other
authorities on the relatively small earth area even occupied by human
beings. But I won't. All I'll do is observe that when someone comes up
with a truly lunatic notion of human social organization, no matter how
murderous it is, its leading exponents are somehow always women. Why is
that? Is it related to the phenomenon that when alpha males like Tiger
Woods set about exploiting women for sex his partners are somehow
always convinced that he actually loves them?
The answer is yes. When the ultimate deathlord descends and decides that he will lead mankind to species-wide suicide, his most ardent followers will be half-smart, half-educated women who are absolutely committed to the cause. They will be eloquent, articulate, and totally f___ing nuts on his behalf. Why? Because a small percentage of women are wise and wonderful, but a far greater percentage are permanently, completely, absolutely OUT OF THEIR F____ING MINDS about absolutely f___ing everything. Especially their conviction that the deathlord loves them in the deepest possible way, even though they only see him on alternate Tuesdays. The saddest thing of all is the plight of smart women. They don't want to blow the whistle on their sad sisters. But they know -- believe me, they know -- that most women are out of their f___ing minds.
It's worse when you let them pretend they're journalists. Enough said, Diane. Francis.
. Of course
the picture's a phony. She's had five kids and makes jokes about
stretch marks. But American men still love her. Witness the latest poll,
which has the intelligentsia running, as Stephen
Leacock would say, "madly off in all directions."
Kewl. Yeah. I know. It doesn't mean that Sarah would beat Obama head to
head in a real election. But I LOVE it. She's causing me to rethink everything. Which, at my age, is
like a shot of adrenalin mixed with crystal meth.
So here's the gamut of what I'm (re)thinking.
See what I mean? The song isn't favorable to American women, is it? But
we all appreciate the non-irony: Men don't like it when women see
though them. Which they usually do. Isn't that at least part of the
liberal fondness for Hillary Clinton? Except that Hillary has two
strikes against her in the 'wise woman' sweepstakes. She hitched her
wagon to a compulsive cheater who humiliated her at every turn. And
she's obviously -- even to liberals -- not macho enough to be the imitation man she so wants
Which is where the genius of Sarah Palin kicks in. She's not an imitation man. She's the woman some of us know, some of us wish we knew, some of us dream of, and some of us would do anything to believe in the possibility of. What's that? [Drumroll please: it's got to be BIG, given that liberals of every stripe, especially feminists, hate her so much that they're anxious to accuse her of not even being a woman...] Sorry to disappoint. She's the woman you'd go to with a personal problem in your home town. You'd be embarrassed to tell her what you did. But you'd tell her anyway because she'd understand and give you the right advice, even if it seemed too hard to do before she told you you could do it. Because you had to. And that's why you went to her in the first place. Because sometimes you have to hear the obvious truth all the smart folks won't tell you.
When did we get the idea that being president of the United States meant going to Harvard and Yale? They were the only two colleges I applied to, but I never thought going to either of them would qualify me for the presidency. I wanted to be a writer. Which has nothing whatever to do with being president of the United States. I can't emphasize enough how different these two ambitions are. Presidential candidates can come from Harvard or Yale. But they can also come from Eureka College and the University of Idaho.
I've written before about my prep school days. The ones who went on to Ivy League schools were a significant percentage of the graduating class, but guess what? They were never the student body presidents. They didn't necessarily get good grades, even in a grade-obsessed culture like ours. They weren't even always football stars or other kinds of jocks. They were the ones people liked because they liked other people in return, and everyone knew it.
I remember the president of my class. He was a big big boy, which is not to say fat, though you can draw your own conclusions. I liked him. So did everyone else. Which could not be said of me and my friends. He starred in a 'Stony Batter' production (where Jimmy Stewart and Benicio del Toro also got their start), and I recall as if it were yesterday that the stage collapsed under him when he stepped upon it. Mind you, I don't remember the play, some one-act melodrama, but I remember his incredible aplomb when the audience erupted in hilarity and he walked the tightrope of saying his lines while acknowledging the silliness of the situation. He never left his character, and he never pretended that a disaster hadn't happened onstage. HE KNEW EXACTLY HOW TO PROCEED. His name was Scott Bliss.
I don't know where he wound up going to college. I don't care. I always knew that he would be a success in his career and his life. There was something genuine about him, something sincere, something lovable. That's what we hope for in our political leaders. It's the most important thing.
I'm not saying that the kids who went to Ivy schools necessarily didn't have this combination. I knew one who did. When I was a freshman, the captain of the swim team, who went on to become captain of the Harvard swim team, was the kindest of all seniors to lowly freshmen. Mike Cahalan was a gentleman. Nature produces, well, rations, them out to us just to remind the rest of us what virtue is. But Mike Cahalan didn't have what Scott Bliss did. Mike was smarter, handsomer, more talented, and equally kind to his fellows... but Scott just glowed when you gave him an audience. (I think Mike Cahalan is now a doctor, still kind but nowhere near celebrity.)
So. Am I just blathering? Hardly. Presidents of the United States aren't the Mike Cahalans of this world. They're the Scott Blisses. Change the sex, the weight, etc, of Scott Bliss and you have Sarah Palin.
Now. Consider. The journalists are the ivy types like me who never got elected to anything. Not only did they not get elected to anything in high school, they burned with envy of the, uh, Sarah Palins of their schools -- the ones who were obviously destined for success because they were gorgeous and everybody loved them.
Let me ask you a question. Do you think that a degree from the Columbia School of Journalism eliminates that kind of hatred and envy?
I don't either.