and political oratory don't make for a very happy
combination. Most kids find political speeches,
like Sunday sermons and lectures on hygiene, to
be crushing bores. When I was about six, my folks
took me to hear Winston Churchill speak. I was
asleep within two minutes, to my parents' relief.
They harbored no illusions that Churchill's spell-binding
style could penetrate childhood.
was giving a campaign speech in Florida the other
day, and the cameras caught him babbling happily
away about how less jobs are more jobs and dead
forests are healthy forests and bankruptcy is
created wealth and all the other mindbenders that
make up right wing philosophy. Almost directly
behind him was Tyler Crotty, then aged 12, and
Tyler, predictably, was bored out of his skull.
Contrary to what the happy idiots on Fox like
to claim, Putsch is no Churchill -- he's barely
a Clement Atlee -- and even if he was, most 12
year olds wouldn't be real thrilled with sitting
for three hours at a political function.
Tyler was yawning and fidgeting and looking at
his watch and peering around.
is there anything faintly unusual about this.
Oh, you might want to ask Tyler's parents why
they have to use the poor kid as a political prop
when he should be out enjoying what's left of
his childhood (he turned 13 a couple of days later),
but that particular failing of politically minded
parents isn't unique to Republicans, and when
Tyler rebels, maybe he'll pay his parents back
by becoming a New Deal Liberal or something. Of
course, if George gets elected to a second term,
Tyler better watch his ass. If he's caught scratching
or peering at his watch, he might end up in the
American equivalent of Siberia. Fidget goes to
Letterman put the footage on his show, doubtlessly
with wisecracks about how this is definitely "one
child left behind." Nor is there anything unusual
about this. That's just part of Dave's schtick.
He's been doing it for about 30 years. He was
doing it when I first discovered him on daytime
television, back in the 70s.
guess is that not one viewer went to bed that
night thinking that the footage of Tyler fidgeting
made for particularly relevant political commentary.
It was funny, but not something you would call
important. Not in the greater scheme of things.
Not even in the lesser scheme of things.
then it got strange.
(Motto: "No conservative left behind: We're Faux
Lite!") started broadcasting the next day that
the tape was a fake. Two of their anchors reported
that the White House called them and told them
that there was no kid standing behind the president.
CNN spent most of the day reporting this.
they changed the story, claiming that while Tyler
WAS at the rally, he wasn't standing where the
footage said he was standing, and that the footage
had been faked.
like an awful lot of effort for something that
got little more than a polite titter from Dave's
the next day, the story changed AGAIN. Now CNN
was claiming that the White House never called
them, and that the previous reports was the result
of a "misunderstanding among the staff." Now you
see the kid, now you don't.
misunderstanding." Let's file that with other
memorable phrases of 2004, such as "wardrobe malfunction"
"faulty intelligence" and "the President was not
in the Situation Room on September 12, 2001."
Letterman -- who protested vociferously when the
first White House / CNN claims came out that the
Letterman show faked the footage -- wasn't convinced,
and on his website it said, "Dave informs America
that neither statement from CNN is true. The boy
was at the rally and the boy was standing behind
the President. Something strange is going on,
and Dave smells a cover up. CNN is now saying
the White House never called them. But why would
CNN say the White House HAD called if the White
House never did? Hmmm. And Dave reveals that our
source, a very good source, confirms the White
House DID call the CNN. Hoo boy, this is getting
interesting. While Condoleeza Rice is testifying
in front of the 9/11 Commission, perhaps she can
shed some light on this as well."
was a remarkably trivial joke about a remarkably
trivial incident blown up into a campaign issue.
White House is determined to do everything it
can to control the message, no matter how petty
or stupid. To that end, they will pressure news
organizations whenever they think a story puts
them in a negative light. Weak and brittle leaders
are often like that, and in countries saddled
with third-rate tinhorn dictators, you can be
thrown in jail for such things as lack of enthusiasm
in applauding Der Leader's remarks, or throwing
out a newspaper with Der Leader's face on it.
George is weak and brittle, and his camp, while
vicious and crafty, are also profoundly stupid.
you can understand why the WH is so intent on
manipulating the message. Especially with the
whole thing slowly crashing down around their
ears. Third rate leaders act like third rate leaders,
and there's nothing surprising in the notion that
in Putsch's perfect world, children are not allowed
to look bored at his speeches.
is the real disgrace here. They've pretty much
BEEN a disgrace ever since Walter Isaacson decided
they needed to kowtow to the right and make life
"more comfortable" for conservatives.
White House told them to lie about the videotape
and they lied. When the lie became inoperative
(that the kid wasn't even at the rally), the White
House told them to tell a different lie, and they
when that silly lie fell apart, the White House
told them to fall on their own sword and deny
the White House had even been involved.
was a pathetic performance from a station that,
once upon a time, was a fairly good source of
news. Now it's just a sorry joke, no different
from the silly organs that right wing third rate
dictators like to have publish praises of Der
it shows the boneheaded stupidity of the right.
Nobody cared or was surprised that a kid would
look bored at a three hour political rally.
But a weak leader would care, and a servile news
organ would try, pathetically, to oblige.
Posted: April 6, 2004