A gentleman, and three other guys

Our coblogger Bob Frank was interviewed…that’s not exactly the word I want here…on Fox Business News by a blowhard named Stuart Varney about his interesting ideas that luck matters in life in addition to brains, hard work, and the other Horatio Alger stuff (Alger’s heroes always had an amazing and consequential stroke of luck along their hardworking way). Varney immediately personalized the question and hid behind his extremely delicate ego by saying he was insulted at the idea that luck had anything to do with his success, and his side of the conversation went downhill…again downhill is not exactly the word I want, I need something more precipitous, more vertical…from there.

Varney’s discourse was so painfully and radiantly deaf, ignorant, and stupid I have no patience to argue it, indeed to do so would insult the readers of this blog, not to mention that Bob already did. The issue here is his appalling discourtesy and cowardice. Of course Bob was a gentleman (a gentleperson is one who is at ease in any company) throughout, allowing Varney to demonstrate how essential luck must have been in his work history five different ways. It was like watching a pompous person swan around a room without knowing his pants are split.

But what I am asking myself, with no criticism of Bob intended, is whether his was the best choice. I have talked to reporters (not on TV) who were so clueless that I had to spend twenty minutes getting them to the point where they could ask the right question, but incompetence (or being assigned the wrong story by your editor) is never a excuse for a rude or insulting reply. In this case, however, Varney was (and maybe is all the time) a great crested son-of-a-bitch in addition to being an idiot. At what level of this increasingly common behavior is it appropriate to simply say, “Your rudeness and ignorance put me in a very difficult position, because there’s simply no gracious way to respond to you and do any good for your listeners. If you want to do all the talking, I’ll be on my way. If you want your listeners to hear from me, you will have to act like a grownup with manners.” And just leave if the abuse continues. I’m sure a couple of these, especially on a live show, would do wonders for the level of discourse on Certain Media Outlets.

The other instance of jerky behavior this evening was toward the end of Keith Olbermann’s show, when he and Michael Musto spent five minutes ridiculing Carrie Prejean. Carrie Prejean is a kid who is obviously at her personal limits looking pretty in a Barbie conventional way, ambushed last week in a Miss Something contest by a question about gay marriage that she had obviously never thought about for a minute, and stumbled through with a desperate, flailing grab at a home-and-hearth-values life preserver. Since then it has transpired that the contest paid for her breast implants. Olbermann and Musto (who is a fast-talking, smirking, vacuous sarcast who imitates a social critic) batted her back and forth in a performance that was about as funny as a rubber crutch, but less illuminating. I think the idea was that anyone wrong on gay rights, no matter how na├»ve, weak, or defenseless, is fair game for a cruel stomping, but this idea is wrong. Musto is just a misogynist with no pretension to be a gentleman (so why does Olbermann give him air time?), but Olbermann is not a trivial or a coarse person and knows perfectly well that a gentleman does not abuse women, especially when they are not present, so the whole episode was quite painful. Dorothy Parker eviscerated Clare Booth Luce at the Stork Club, not the cigarette girl.

I’m not sure Musto is capable of the remorse thing, but Olbermann should really be ashamed of himself, and if he’s any kind of a gentleman, he will put himself in World’s Worst Persons tomorrow night.


I was going to post on the continuing collapse of newspapers, a cloud way closer than the horizon and plenty bigger than a man’s or even Kong’s hand, but this piece, alerting us to something way scarier than an asteroid on a collision course, puts today’s bad news, and smidgens of good news, in the shade. (I’m so upset I can’t even remember how I got to this to give a ht!)

I am an optimistic person and up to now expected us (I mean all the passengers on the spaceship, not just Americans or Californians or bloggers) to get through the crises of the moment by hard work, smart policy and programs, confidence, and some muddling. Sorry to blight the Christmas of the few people who are spending it in front of computer screens, but I have to report all this now to be deeply uncertain. Sandra Boynton summed it up many years ago on an immortal card: front page, “Things are getting worse”; inside page “Send chocolate.” Great challenges, widespread deprivation, and collective enterprise need more chocolate, not less.

Need, I said. I am off to rend the odd garment, brush my teeth for better gnashing, dig some ashes out of the fireplace, and try to find sackcloth pants and jacket that match (and weren’t rent in November ’04). Y’all have as nice a Christmas as you can under the circumstances.

On our way into the coming valley of despair, I can perhaps do our loyal readers a last favor: it’s every man, woman, and child for him- and herself now, sauve qui peut and like that, and you don’t want to be late for the hoarding, which begins tomorrow morning when the shops open except (this is important) in the Bay Area of California, where it begins Saturday morning, not before, is that perfectly clear? And don’t think about hitting my favorite confectionery mail-order websites before I get there either!

Shop till you drop somebody

People are stepping up, thank the lord; we may be on our way out of the economic meltdown. On Long Island, a crowd of patriots pushed down the doors of a WalMart and trampled to death a wretch trying to hold them back until opening time (probably an Al Qaeda operative programmed to sabotage our economy). In Palm Desert, people shop as though they really mean it, with feeling and commitment in the good old American way, packing heat and willing to use it.

Our long national nightmare of wussy vacillation is coming to an end.