Sunday, March 01, 2009

Blog comes in like a lion.

Same Oh
I watched President’s Obama’s speech to Congress, and was satisfied that he is acting Presidential. I’m not going out and buying any Obama commemorative plates any time soon, or putting his poster in my window, or weeping with joy over the stimulus package, but still….

However, watching Alexandra Pelosi’s documentary on HBO (“Right America: Feeling Wronged”), I was reminded that there is a whole world out there, beyond my irritating little Bay Area bubble of semi-lefties, cynics, and eco-twits, of angry conservatives who really really hate those who are not angry conservatives.

And there are many who fear that President Obama is taking the United States to hell in a handcart. (Even if that’s true, those many seem to forget that the handcart is not of his making, nor is the hell towards which we are careening. I’m certain he would love to have his own special handcart that runs on solar power, but you have to go to hell with the cart you are dealt.)

Still, it baffles me that in the wake of the successful passing of the stimulus package, some conservatives are claiming victory. I found this, for example:

"If Senate Republicans show a unified voice in opposing the stimulus package, it will be a clear victory," says Richard Viguerie, chairman of the conservative grassroots Web site "Not only will it undermine Obama's determination for bipartisan support, it will show the American public that Republicans are the clear alternative to Democrats—a remarkable change from the years of the Bush administration when that line was blurred."

I found that on the conservative grassroots website,, Richard Viguerie’s website, as part of an article written by Richard Viguerie. A self-closed information loop! Wow!

Rick Santelli, CNBC correspondent, broadcasting live, made the viral video circuit with his anti-Obama rant: "This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbors' mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills? ... President Obama, are you listening?" That he issued this anti-enconium from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade seems to be an irony lost on those who think Santelli tore the new administration a new one. I mean, there he was surrounded by a bunch of white guys trading in futures and options and derivatives, the kind of guys who in their eagerness and fondness for unique financial instruments helped create the mortgage crisis in the first place. Their shouts of approval for Mr. Santelli’s outburst struck this viewer as more pathetic than stirring.

Santelli 2
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, responding to queries about Santelli’s remarks, suggested that Santelli take the plan, "download it, hit print and begin to read it."

Santelli appeared on “The G. Gordon Liddy Show,” and agreed with Liddy’s on-air claim that Gibbs was making a “veiled threat.”

When he appeared on “Today,” host Matt Lauder asked him if he was serious about that.

Santelli said, "Ok, this is more about the feelings my wife had when she watched the body language and listened to what he was saying." To which Matt Lauer responded: "But this is the White House Press Secretary. You think he's going to threaten you on national television?"

Everything now really means something else. It is all shadows and symbols, and coded messages. That only your wife can read.

Monkey Business
This brings us to the flap over the cartoon in the New York Post. The day before it was published a chimpanzee had escaped in Connecticut, and was shot dead by police. So the cartoon showed a dead chimpanzee in a pool of blood on the street, with two bullet holes in its chest, and two cops: one with a smoking gun, and the other one saying, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”

Al Sharpton and others immediately jumped on this cartoon, calling it “racist,” that it was comparing President Obama to an ape, and encouraging his assassination. The Post issued an apology, explaining that the cartoon was a reference to the chimpanzee in Connecticut, and was intended to mock the stimulus package. (It’s so stupid, you see, an ape could have written it. Get it?) Critics were not mollified, and called upon people to boycott the Post, and shut it down.

Well, in the first place, though it has now become known as the “monkey cartoon,” an ape is not a monkey. It’s obvious that the cartoonist was reviving an old trope: “A monkey could draw that,” or “A chimpanzee could write better than that,” or “My three-year-old child could paint a better picture.” Because that old trope is always true, and always funny as hell.

In the second place, President Obama did not write the stimulus bill. A team of lawyers did. Or maybe a hundred chimpanzees. I don’t know.

In the third place, that is about the clumsiest punch line I’ve ever read. Punchier would have been “Who’s going to write the next stimulus bill?” On second thought, no. There is no way to make a punch line that includes the words “stimulus bill” funny.

In the fourth place, the cartoon is kind of grotesque. Why would the cartoonist think a bullet-ridden dead chimpanzee in a pool of blood amusing?

Headline: Will Web readers pay for news?
No. They spent all their money on ring tones.


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