Wednesday, April 14, 2004
As I say, this was 10 years ago. But I
am 50 now and if I saw such an exhibition today, I would not let it
pass. Mortality is not the stranger it used to be and I am no longer cowed
by those who lounge in its company, certainly not those who exploit its
acquaintance to excuse their own bad behavior. That’s why I’m prepared
to weigh in finally on the uncomfortable subject of Andy Rooney. Was he
ever funny? Possibly. As funny as you have to be to outstrip the sparkling wit
of Mike Wallace, Leslie Stahl, and the rest of the stonefaces at CBS News.
Was he ever wise? No. He wasn’t. He was always a pseudo-folksy pseudo-intellectual
New York City snob, pretending to be one of the unpretentious people pretentious
people pretend to revere and secretly look down on. He got away with it
because he affected the simple language of Mark Twain armed with a Selectric
typewriter and an unpressed gray suit. Effective camouflage. But now he’s
become the old crone at the Nassau airport, and it’s time to send him to
the back of the line. A few days ago, he began his newspaper column with
Treating soldiers fighting their war as brave heroes is an old civilian trick designed to keep the soldiers at it. But you can be sure our soldiers in Iraq are not all brave heroes gladly risking their lives for us sitting comfortably back here at home.
We must support our soldiers in Iraq because it's our fault they're risking their lives there. However, we should not bestow the mantle of heroism on all of them for simply being where we sent them. Most are victims, not heroes.
President Bush's intentions were honorable when he took us into Iraq. They were not well thought out but honorable. Bush's determination to make the evidence fit the action he took, which it does not, has made things look worse.
Why not? Because it’s part of essential human courtesy to speak of those who wear our country’s uniform as if they were heroes, because any of them might be heroes and all of them are aware they may be called upon to perform as heroes. It’s a challenge they accept when they put on the uniform, and they know it. They deserve our admiration, all of them. It does them no honor and no service to view them as less than their duty might very well require of them. Andy Rooney should be ashamed of himself. I’m certainly ashamed of him. And I’d be happy to tell him to his peevish half-smart face, “Retire. You’re an old political hack, and we’re tired of you. Get the hell off my TV set. Go home. And don’t ever let me catch you cutting in line at the airport or I’ll take your damn head off.”
INSTAPLAUDIT. A warm thank you to Glenn
Reynolds for linking to yesterday's fisking of John Kerry. We can explain
the "derivative" format he noticed, but we'll do that some other time.
For those of you who are new to InstaPunk and its companion sites, boomerbible.com
and glovesoff.blogspot.com, we offer a warm welcome. If you liked the Kerry
piece, you may also enjoy our analysis
of the new star of the O'Franken Factor, as well as the 2001 version of
Shuteye Nation's Amerian
Glossary, our treatment of the relationship between The Boomer Bible
and 9/11, plus
this fairly sensational bit of prophecy. And if you're trying to figure out what the heck The Boomer Bible
is, this might help.