Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Remember Gravitas?

Do you remember the week the newsreaders added the word GRAVITAS to our lexicon?

I do, vaguely. Like the time I went camping for a few days and when I came back those annoying yellow happy faces had inexplicably commandeered every window, lapel, cash register, pay phone, and bus seat in the civilized world.

Before the election campaign of 2000 our lives were blissfully free of discussions of GRAVITAS. Then with the abruptness of a pimple erupting prom night, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, and the rest were earnestly agreeing with each other that George Bush "lacked GRAVITAS."

Nickel-plated morons. I wonder who fed them that bit of Latin pomposity and told them to toss it around.

It was a snotty way of telling us peasants that we shouldn't vote for Bush because he really didn't have the appearance of dignity and seriousness expected of a head of state. Well, now there is a presidential candidate with gravitas. In spades.

Evidently, Mr. Kerry was fed gravitas instead of mother's milk as a baby.

He leaves gravitas-soaked footprints where he treads.

He has to have it scraped from his important suit when he sends it to the cleaners.

He excretes gravitas with his perspiration; leaves gravitas stains on the pillowcase.


Where was his gravitas when he was sponsoring legislation, which is supposed to be the task of a legislator?

Can you remember the single piece of legislation sponsored by Kerry to actually be passed on favorably by his fellow senators?

His own official website does not identify it. It only shows a tally sheet year by year: bills sponsored, bills passed. Total for a decade of service in the Senate, 28 sponsored, ONE passed.

I guess I'll have to do some more darn research.

Why is there no discussion of Kerry's legislative leadership and accomplishments by ANY of the Mainstream Press nor Network News Anchors? Why are we NOT being reminded hourly by the newsreaders who so conspicuously endorse Kerry, about all the wonderful legislation he sponsored, or the bills he voted FOR and AGAINST?

Oh, yeah. He voted BOTH ways on the war against Iraq... THAT we've heard about plenty.


No one is jamming their transmission. We are huddled around our receiver sets, hungry for information...


The silence of the media on Kerry's record since his four months in Vietnam speaks with devastating eloquence. They looked at his record and *HAD* to realize that it could only damage his chances for election to remind people of what he has said, and which bills he's supported and opposed.

But he sure does a good job of looking serious.

I bet when he orders a meal in a restaurant, that helps keep the wait staff on their toes.

Islamic fundamentalist America-hating terrorists, you'd better watch your ASSES! We have a candidate with GRAVITAS!

Surely, in some fourth-floor walk-up in Brooklyn, a conversation just like this might happen:

"Sayeed, is it your will to detonate this day some C-4 on the public way where walk many infidels which is a stink in the eye of the Almighty?"

"Afendi, most assuredly not, for by the Prophet's beard, the hated nation of our enemy has brought forth and set against us a person fairly sloppin' over with GRAVITAS!"

"Accursed be him that so hinders our blessed and compassionate plan to blow up all creation in the name of Merciful ALLAH! Would that we yet contended with only such as George, whom we deemed quite devoid of this Gravitas..."


Look, I KNOW there are a lot of folks that are much smarter than I am. In my frustration, I call the news presenters of our major broadcast networks MORONS. But I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they are a lot more clever than I am. The evidence, come to think of it, is reasonably compelling: There they are with their multi-million dollar salaries, their entourages of sycophantic lap-dogs running errands and fetching their martinis and Botox syringes, their touring cars, their chartered flights, their personal fragrance counselors, their legal counselors... here *I* am with... with...

Well, with what I’ve got.

Seriously, what I’m getting at is that the President’s critics seem universally obliged to declare him a MORON, and they really are convinced that they have the ability to reckon his IQ from the way he pronounces the word “nuclear.”

When *I* call the Network Celebrity News Presenters morons, what *I* mean is that they regularly confuse their celebrity status with some God-like power to dictate reality for the rest of us. This is why I make it my habit to use the terms “news readers” and “news presenters”--- because they seem to have become puffed up and extravagantly impressed with themselves. Joseph Kraft used the term “Imperial Press.” Fits.

When editors and reporters meet to review continuing and breaking news, and figure out how best to allocate resources among the various stories... well, at the risk of pointing out the obvious, the people who get the assignments are not scientists, or economists, or pilots, or mining engineers, or pathologists. They are usually reasonably intelligent people, with--- we hope--- some instruction in journalistic standards and methods. They’re just reporters.

Yes, some journalists achieve enduring credibility because of their specialized experience or education in some field apart from journalism. But all too often, after interviewing all the people they’ve rounded up, and scanning so much background material, lesser reporters end up convinced they understand the issues as well as or even BETTER THAN the people they’ve interviewed. You see this at every level of operation: local papers and television, monthly magazines, etc.

Many journalists see themselves as authorities on any subject that arises, morally and ethically above the rest of us, constantly watching for some menace from which to save us, particularly if it is our own blindness or bad habits. It’s a circular, self-reinforcing, delusion, as I’ll explain.

They perceive themselves as distinct from the Democratic Party, but the roles they have arrogated for themselves coincide. Both democrats and many journalists share a kind of missionary zeal for preaching to their fellows, and trying to reform them from their wickedness. The Democratic Party has effectively defined itself over many decades as the defender of “the little guy,” and the group that will fight for minority rights, and AGAINST the rapacious business interests. If you are a good person--- so the logic goes--- you must be a democrat, and if you aren’t a democrat--- it follows with elegant inevitability--- YOU MUST BE A BAD PERSON!!!

The headwhacking monotony of their charges of Republican evil become more strident and irrationally ludicrous as Kerry’s fundamental lousiness unfolds for all to see. You could almost feel compassion for them, if they hadn’t acted like such sorry rascals for so many decades.

But for too long they have been insisting that their emperor was wearing a beautiful regal robe and crown, clearly visible to the GOOD people who want good things for minorities, who don’t raise pesky questions about when life begins, who agree that only by racial quotas enforced by affirmative action can we correct the inequities of past racism, and who reject the evil racist attack on Iraq, and there NEVER WERE ANY WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION OR YELLOWCAKE THE BASTARD LIED LIED LIED AND HE ONLY DID IT FOR THE OIL AND HE’S A SCUM SUCKING COWARD WHO’S DADDY HELPED HIM ESCAPE COMBAT IN VIETNAM AND AWOL SNORT SPIT CACK GARBLE DARBLE...

(Ahem.) And, of course, only BAD, Mean-spirited Republicans think the emperor’s nekkid.

Amazing. I never realized the stories we studied in kindergarten would provide lessons to last a lifetime.


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