I’ve been reading the Washington Times for roughly 20 years now. During all that time, it was the single best conservative newspaper in America — not that there were that many to choose from, because there weren’t. Until the recent redesign of the website, I would spend an hour every morning reading it. Now, baffled by all the techno-gadgetry and unable to find the great articles and columns I once devoured, I read only two cherished items: John McCaslin’s daily “Inside the Beltway” column and former editor Wes Pruden’s twice-weekly “Pruden on Politics.” The announcement earlier this year that a Washington Post reporter would replace Pruden as editor was certainly disturbing, but I had no idea as a reader what was going on internally and, like an idiot, hoped that nothing much would change. (Just found this article online, which certainly explains things). Eventually, I noticed familiar bylines showing up elsewhere on the Net and wondered what was going on.
Well, it’s official: The Washington Times is no longer the best conservative paper in America. It’s hardly conservative at all, anymore.
My dad did his master’s thesis at LSU on the history of the newspaper he worked for, the New Orleans States, which was subsequently merged with the Item and the Times-Picayune and has since passed into oblivion. Each chapter of his thesis was devoted to a different editor — whose opinions, personality, and sense of style made the paper what it was. For my dad coming up, there were five or six distinctive daily papers in town; for me, only one dull monopoly. I can still remember how excited I was when I first discovered the Washington Times and recognized it as the type of paper (and Pruden as the type of editor) my father had worked for and written about so fondly. Years ago, I even sent Pruden a sorry xerox copy of my dad’s onion-skin thesis.
Such a shame. It was a great paper while it lasted.
Some good may come of this, however. Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, but in doing so it dispersed great Creole and Cajun chefs all across the nation. You can now get a good bowl of gumbo or plate of jambalaya in the most surprising places — and, if that’s not a good thing, what is? Maybe this journalistic hurricane will have a similar effect: destroying a great paper, but sending its able and dedicated alumni on to other publications that will profit from, and appreciate, their skills and perspectives.
I certainly hope so.
I never could see the appeal of Happy Days, but The Andy Griffith Show, in my opinion, was the single best television comedy ever broadcast. Sheriff Andy Taylor was my surrogate TV father when I was growing up (Laura Petrie my surrogate mom, from whom I became alienated when she metamorphosed into Mary Richards). Despite all the cracks about it being a show for seniors, I’ve been a big fan of Matlock since it first aired in 1986. And the great horse opera parody Rustler’s Rhapsody, with Griffith in a supporting role as an evil cattle baron, is one of my favorite movies. That’s why, when I saw the Obama endorsement that Ron Howard, in the guise of Opie and Richie Cunningham, put together with Andy Griffith and Henry Winkler, I wanted to vomit. Instead, I spit out this week’s Politickle:
“He’s compared to the Christ and to Gandhi,
He’s offered us all bags of candy,
But he got my vote when
The endorsements came in
From the Fonz, Richie, Opie, and Andy.”
NIGHT OF THE VOTING DEAD
“We’ll be summoned from slumberous state
To endorse the quadrennial slate;
Then it’s back to the grave,
Where we’ll try to behave
‘Til the conclave of 2008!”
The polls open and who comes in?
Mary Poppins and Mickey Finn,
Then Betty Boop
And Alley Oop,
Sherlock Holmes and Gunga Din!
What compares to the horrible fright
That will haunt us on Halloween night?
Consider the fear,
As elections draw near,
Ghoulish candidates soon will excite!
There once was a man named Vlad
Who was known for a habit he had:
With such pride in his nailing,
When he took to impaling
No one ever would challenge his chad.
Of the varied lay orders he scoured,
Opus Dei above others towered,
But the postulant was dopey
And espoused Deus Opie,
Unaware that they worshipped Ron Howard.
Last week’s limerick:
“I’m a master at deceivin’,
At wigglin’, wafflin’, weavin’;
And when I create
A socialist state,
You’ll have change you can believe in.”
Discovered to my shock that a moderate-to-conservative relative was planning to vote for Obama and, assuming he was unaware of Obama’s unsavory connections and socialist identity, emailed him a link to IBD Editorials. I received this [excerpted] reply:
I appreciate your attempt to educate me as to Obama’s flaws, Bob, but I intend to vote for him on election day unless I find out that he is an alien intent on eating children.
There are some things on which I agree with McCain, but I do not find any reason to believe that he will be an effective executive, and Sarah Palin is in no way qualified to succeed him should he die or become incapacitated during his term. Had McCain chosen anyone else, I might well be willing to consider him. And believe me, Bob, there is no way that you can ever convince me that Sarah Palin is at all ready to be President of the US. She would be a deer in the headlights, hockey mom or not. . . .
“an alien intent on eating children” Might as well be. His appointments to the Supreme Court will guarantee the continuing murder of unborn children. “Murder?!! He said ‘murder.’ Tee hee.” [LAUGH TRACK] Yes, murder.
As for Palin, she has far more executive experience than Obama (who has none). Undeniable. Case closed.
What on earth makes Obama “ready”? Glibness? Radical associates? Criminal associates? Direct connections to vote fraud? Illegal domestic contributions? Illegal foreign contributions? A running mate who’s a plagiarizing hack? . . .
Hey, I still don’t care for McCain and can’t see how anyone could cast a ballot for him without holding his nose, but nothing on earth could make me vote for a smug, socialist change-agent-in-disguise like Obama. I’ve been fighting ruthless, pious bastards like him all my life.
You’ve had exchanges like this with your own relatives and friends, so you know the rest of the story: Several more emails went back and forth, neither one of us gave an inch, the hostility level increased markedly each time, and a close family tie was nearly severed. But how could I let it go? If I really believe, as I do, that an Obama presidency poses a genuine threat to the security of our country, mustn’t I make a sincere effort to share my concerns with open-minded people? (I don’t waste time on lefties and nitwits.)
We survived JFK, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton (the three worst presidents in the history of the United States, in that order), but will we survive Obama? As I told my relative in one of my last-ditch efforts to persuade him at least to investigate further: “I have no idea what a McCain Administration would mean for our country in general or conservatives in particular, but I am confident that an Obama presidency would be disastrous. (Another four years of Carter, I’m convinced, would have led to a full-fledged invasion from the South.)”
My latest venture is a series of video election satires. I’m hoping to get some traction out of this (while making a point or two), or at least remind people that I’m still alive. I was doing performance art and launching flash mobs back in the 70s before anyone had come up with a name for such things, and have now returned to my roots.
“Like a beast in a bottomless bog
Who parades in perpetual fog,
Though unseen and unheard
I’m supremely assured
In the bliss of my blithering blog.”
Well, that was my take on blogging four years ago. Once again, as often happens, I was wrong. But I’ve always learned from my mistakes and can honestly say that I am now an incredibly wise — blogger.
Being currently unemployed, I intend to update my blog daily. However, be advised: Once (i.e., if) I secure a steady job, the blog will be the first thing to go. So, enjoy it while you can.