Saturday, June 23


Kathleen "Pulitzer" Parker,  "Ann Romney has a horse. So what?" June 22

EVOKING the stable:

The punch line is at least as old as the eldest baby boomer: “I didn’t get a pony.”

Here’s Jerry Seinfeld: “I hated those kids [who had ponies]. In fact, I hate anyone that ever had a pony when they were growing up.”

Why is this funny? Because we all know that, for the most part, kids who had ponies were the rich kids.

There's something seriously wrong with Kathleen Parker, isn't there, something that relative fame, undeserved acclaim, and good tables at tonier DC eateries have done nothing to mitigate. Look at the whole range of female "conservative" public thinkers; there's something seriously wrong with all of 'em, no? Phyllis Schlafly, Mona Charen, Laura Ingraham, Ginny Thompson, Michelle Malkin (how much time do we have?), Lynne Cheney, Sippy Cupp, Tucker Carlson? TV's Kennedy?  It's not that I think the menfolk are a particularly sharp and balanced lot. It's just that, well, sooner or later you think a smart gal would take a hard look at her roommates and decide to move out.

Why is this funny? Because it ain't, unless you don't know how to tell a joke and think everything Jerry Seinfeld ever says is funny, because he's a comedian. I mean a successful comedian.

See, what's funny about the pony bit, Kathleen, is that a kid, offered the opportunity to make a Christmas wish, wishes for the most extravagant, impractical thing imaginable, thinking it will appear by magic. At least this was how it went in Speedway, Indiana, back when, where we didn't hate the kids who had ponies because, like the overwhelming majority of mid-20th century Americans, we didn't fucking know any fucking kids with fucking ponies.

Perhaps Mr. Seinfeld did. Or perhaps, as a comedian, he's panning for nuggets in the rich stream of normal American experience, where the vast majority of people don't like conspicuous consumers, or conspicuous anythings that have to do with that Me First and Always attitude.

(By the way, I didn't know anyone who had a pony, but my Poor Wife did: her sister. And she hated her sister, not for her socioeconomic status, which roughly mirrored her own, but because she was the sort of child who asked for a pony.)

It is but a short canter from hating pony people to despising the horse crowd.

No it isn't. It's the same damned thng.

And this is because people who own fancy horses — thoroughbreds or, heaven forbid (you knew this was coming), Olympic horses — are very, very rich. We just call them the One Percenters these days.

Maybe we call 'em that, but the Horsey Set--like the Romneys--is generally more like the .05%

Thus, Ann Romney, wife of the presumptive Republican nominee, recently became a target of ridicule when it was revealed that she co-owns an Olympian horse that will compete in dressage, a sport she apparently enjoys. Dressage, sometimes called “horse ballet,” is the “highest expression of horse training,” according to the International Federation for Equestrian Sports.

Yeah, and Budweiser™ is "the highest expression of the brewmaster's art" according to Anheuser-Busch.

It may not be as stimulating as a horse race with bets and booze, but thus it has always been with art.

Translated into Plebeian that's "It doesn't have vulgar appeal of horse racing, but y'all don't understand Art anyway."

Dressage and horseback riding in general offer other rewards, including therapy for people who suffer maladies from physical disabilities to emotional imbalances. This should not be surprising, given the millennia-long relationship between humankind and horse that transcends mere transportation. Anyone who has ridden knows the deeply satisfying synchronicity between the movements and rhythms of human and horse. The emotional bond that also develops is not insignificant.

Thanks, Kathleen, but revealing too much wasn't really necessary.

And, look, I understand that when the yacht capsizes you'll grasp at the corpse of any cabin boy that floats by. But "dressage" is not exactly being prescribed for MS sufferers as a routine matter of allopathy, now, is it? "I'm afraid it is multiple sclerosis, Bob. I suggest we get you on a rigorous program of teaching horses to move unnaturally with precision." You rich bastards--what we call nowadays the One Percent--really should restrict your lying to your own Class.

For Ann Romney, riding has been helpful in dealing with her multiple sclerosis.

Oh, sorry, I didn't realize The Left has been making fun of Ann Romney's medical condition. I thought they were making fun of her frivolous rich-person involvement in a prohibitively expensive and profoundly silly Olympic display of overripe circus tricks and Victorian attire.

Sheesh, I ride bicycles for my knee problems, and general fitness. And I find that to be sufficient, without bankrolling a family of Bavarian unicycle aerialists.

Why, then, have some seen fit to ridicule Ann Romney’s choice of activities? Stephen Colbert can be forgiven his fun with the news, which focused on dressage as the not-so-common-man’s sport.

And because criticizing him might make it sound like you are slightly deficient in the sense of humor department, heaven forfend.

You think Colbert's point is any different than Lawrence O'Donnell's? Really?

But others have been less funny. Leading the charge on the political side has been MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, who, while insisting that he wasn’t commenting on Romney’s MS, pointed out that the Romneys treat the horse as a business rather than a health expense.

Y'know, far be it from me to offering writing advice to a Pulitzer-winning opinionator, but, generally speaking, a dependent clause should be dependent on something. "While insisting he wasn't commenting on Romney's MS" is not, in fact, contradicted by the fact that the man then criticized the brand of tax write-off favored in this instance by the Romneys horse accountants.

Horses that compete and breed at the Olympic level typically are business investments, as O’Donnell surely knows. But the talking point must be made — and made and made — that the Romneys aren’t like the rest of us working stiffs. They have big ol’ fancy cars and horses and stuff. And they make lots of money, too. (Oh, and by the way, television anchors do rather well. What’s with the guilt?)

First, drastically overpay 'em. Then accuse 'em of being Class Traitors. Circle of Life.

And, Kathleen, "What am I, in business for my health?" is even older than "Where's my pony?" So surely you know the distinction. You can't say, in one paragraph, "Brave Ann Romney fights debilitating disease with the help of deeply satisfying equine synchronicity", and, in the next, "Why of course she took accelerated amortization on that Brazilian saddle factory.  Oats aren't cheap!" and imagine that, somehow, you've double-annihilated an argument neither line even addresses.

And why this war on success? People who are struggling through rough economic times didn’t suddenly become stupid, and surely most see through this absurd, sustained attack on the Romneys, whose only apparent sin is having been successful.

Well, if they didn't, they do now that their official spokeswoman has spoken for them.

Romney’s opponents seem to be aghast that he has made money for investors (aren’t we all investors?), though they studiously ignore other greed-less facts: He never took a dime in salary for heading the Olympics in Salt Lake City nor as governor of Massachusetts, to mention a couple.

Christ among the Kiowa, if you get to bring this shit up, then other people do, too.

May I say that, personally, I'm up to the eyeballs in Mitt Romney, hero of the Salt Lake City Games shit? Of course he didn't take any salary. The goddam Games were mired in a Shit Scandal and he was called in to clean up the mess. He didn't get called in to resolve the Tricky Moral Dilemma of what to do about a Games the capital of Mormonville had obtained by ugly payoffs (like, probably, every Olympics since Avery Brundage was a thinly) guaranteed by ramrodded taxpayers; Mitt Romney wasn't going to conclude that the 2002 Winter Games were hopelessly tainted, and should move elsewhere. There wasn't time, even if that sort of thing was in his nature, which it ain't. He was there to preserve untold millions of television and advertiser dollars, and their intended profits, that hung in the balance. Mitt Romney was the designated untainted guy brought in to clean up the mess. He was the face of the clean-up. If you ever want a cush job, be the face of something that has billions of dollars behind it after the scandal has broken. Nobody blames the guy who took over for Tony Hayward for the BP oil spill. And you'll note that BP's still in business. Elect him President.

If he'd have demanded five Big Ones up front and a share of the gate his job would have been over before it started. Care to bet that Mitt Romney didn't, somehow, turn a bigger profit on his unpaid Olympics gig that most Americans will manage in a lifetime?

The issue of Ann Romney’s horse is yet more ideological nonsense from the left, intended to portray Republicans generally and the Romneys specifically as enemies of The People. Riding horses is framed as just one more example of how out of touch the Romneys are with everyday Americans, though Democrats didn’t seem to mind that Jackie Kennedy was an avid horsewoman.

And Republicans didn't seem to mind that the Kennedys paid an 85% tax rate on their income over $500,000.

Should Ann Romney become first lady, perhaps she can promote the therapeutic benefits of horseback riding and encourage a culture that funnels the countless unwanted or retired horses to riding farms where emotionally or physically distressed people can enjoy the special communion between human and horse.

And maybe she can give her once-worn wardrobe to the visually impaired.

It would be a better use of these noble animals than as circus or zoo meat, which is how so many wind up. Maybe she could even arrange to get O’Donnell his own pony.

Sure. While her husband, and the rest of your party, is busy arranging for a surplus of poor people as a suitable replacement for that lost protein source.


R. Porrofatto said...

Unmentioned by Parker (surprise!), that was a $77,000 horsey tax write-off for their one-third ownership. Perhaps taxpayers whose median income is half that and who don't get to declare their own hobbies as business deductions might find that a wee bit irritating. If they happen to suffer from MS without the insurance to cover physical therapy they might be even more piqued, especially if Mr. Dressage has declared his intention to make sure they never do. Not to mention how they made their "lots of money." Not to mention... oh what the fuck.

We'd be shocked to learn that Parker wasn't nearly so solicitous of Teresa Heinz Kerry and her wealthy hobbies back in '04.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention windsurfing,that elitist pastime of her husband.

Anonymous said...

Exacly, remember all the "elitist" kerfuffle over John Kerry because he went windsurfing? Dare to compare the fianncial outlay between windsurfing and dressage?

And let's not forget "Kerry speaks French". Rmoney lived in France for two years, for pete's sake.

Villagers have the attention span of dogs and an awareness of hypocrisy akin to a pack of hyenas.

Both Sides Do It said...

Gotta push back on the Seinfeld denigration. Not that anything was wrong. But that pony bit was genuinely funny.

She's quoting from the TV show. (It was probably in his act before that, but the only standup KP can quote, even with a couple of researchers, is when Woody Allen does a few jokes in front of a college crowd in Annie Hall).

He and Elaine are stuck at a 50th anniversary dinner for relatives he barely knows. They're the youngest ones there by thirty years and are seated at a table with ten other people, including Jerry's mom Helen, down at the end. Manya, the second cousin and Jerry's relative, who has "Eastern Bloc" written into the creases on her face and has a thick staccato Polish accent, sits at the head of the table with Isaac, her husband. There's small talk about how some other relative's fiance owns a horse.

JERRY: Horses? They’re like big riding dogs.

ELAINE: What about ponies? What kind of abnormal animal is that? And those kids who had their own ponies...

JERRY: I know, I hated those kids. In fact, I hate anyone that ever had a pony when they were growing up.

MANYA: (angry) I had a pony.

(The room goes dead quiet.)

JERRY: Well, I didn’t uh really mean a pony, per se...

MANYA: When I was a little girl in Poland, we all had ponies. My sister had pony, my cousin had pony... So, what’s wrong with that?

JERRY: Nothing. Nothing at all. I was just merely expressing...

HELEN: Should we have coffee? Who’s having coffee?

MANYA: He was a beautiful pony! And I loved him.

JERRY: Well, I’m sure you did. Who wouldn’t love a pony? Who wouldn’t love a person that had a pony?

MANYA: [pointing] You! You said so!

JERRY: No, see, we didn’t have ponies. I’m sure at that time in Poland, they were very common. They were probably like compact cars..

MANYA: That’s it! I had enough!

(Manya gets up from the table and exits.)

ISAAC: Have your coffee, everybody. She’s a little upset. It’s been an emotional day.

(Isaac exits. Everyone looks at Jerry.)

JERRY: I didn’t know she had a pony. How was I to know she had a pony? Who figures an immigrant’s going to have a pony? Do you know what the odds are on that? I mean, in all the pictures I saw of immigrants on boats coming into New York harbor, I never saw one of them sittin’ on a pony. Why would anybody come here if they had a pony? Who leaves a country packed with ponies to come to a non-pony country? It doesn’t make sense. Am I wrong?

I don't care who you are, that's funny.

And Parker still fucks it up. Because the reason he uses pony is first and foremost because it's a funny word to say in fifteen consecutive sentences. Louis CK does a five-minute bit about ponies and uses the same technique. It's a funny word.

A distant but still important second is because it's one of the few nouns that can make that joke work. What could you put there instead of pony? What else is kinda despised here as a frivolous indulgence but could be a common occurrence in agrarian Communist countries?

No. The bit is great. Parker still deserves to get bitten by a pony though.

Fiddlin' Bill said...

This is excellent, and it illustrates just how dogged the right is in making these utterly misguided "points." The big problem rational clear thinking people have is that the right is so committed to the lies that they just keep on at it, every second of every day, until most sane people tend to just give up and say "ok." This is what they've been doing since Reagan--as you've pointed out a million times. So your job is simply to aid in the ongoing fight to stay awake amid the soporific nonsense that permeates our intellectual atmosphere like the gas the Russians used to kill all those Chechnian rebels in that theatre in Moscow. You are appreciated, Mr. Riley.

desertscope said...

And why this war on success? People who are struggling through rough economic times didn’t suddenly become stupid, and surely most see through this absurd, sustained attack on the Romneys, whose only apparent sin is having been successful.

This person really got a Pulitzer?

Any argument begun with some variation of the phrase "You people are too smart to fall for ..." is complete bullshit, and should be grounds for dismissal from any vocation but "salesman of dubious products."

People aren't stupid, they can see right through Big Pharma's suppression of my natural cure for cancer, Essence de Connerie.

prairie curmudgeon said...

She sure as shit cured my class envy. As did so many of her compadres who pointed out how rich I am with my color TV and aerial antenna. And the local town even has Walmart! And I can even get wealthy too. In fact I can get a CD earning 0.5% interest. What a fucking cornucopia these horse people create for us. Not so unlike my grandparents who actually fed the fucking world with horsepower. Thanks Kathleen for removing the blinders. I can finally grasp the worldview of Sterling Willard even if he so dastardly avoids grasping mine.

Anonymous said...

"And maybe she can give her once-worn wardrobe to the visually impaired."

There's always a LOL moment with snarky Riley. Amid the larger points, of course.

The dressage thing is all part of a larger oblivious tone-deafness. Ann wearing a $1000 T-shirt on morning TV. Swiss and offshore bank accounts. "Ann has a couple of Cadillacs, actually." "I like to fire people." "Corporations are people, my friend." If the Obama people can't string together these Moments for effective commercials they are inept indeed. If the American people elect this clueless plutocrat they just haven't been reached.

—another bozo

Rugosa said...

Also, too, "we are all investors" because our employers realized that if they made us "invest"* our retirement allotments, they would save themselves the trouble of managing pensions funds and make a lot of money for the financial sector.

* AKA "park our deferred compensation in one of a couple of choices they picked for us"

David in NYC said...

And Republicans didn't seem to mind that the Kennedys paid an 85% tax rate on their income over $500,000.

Actually (and it makes your point even stronger), that would have been 91% on their income over $200,000.

Whenever I have to listen to some jerk go on and on about the good ol' days, "Greatest Generation", etc., I always ask, "So, you would like to return to a top marginal tax rate of 91%?"

Usually shuts them up real quick.