Thursday, December 29

2005 Magic™ for Excellence in Elocutin'

"He may have tooken that shot too early"
-Earvin "Magic" Johnson

Plus an apology to MSNBC's chief Washington correspondent Norah O'Donnell for the opprobrium that came her way for calling the Crawford protestors "extremists," since it never occurred to us to ask if English is her first language. From her fill-in-for-Tweety spot on Wednesday's Hardball:
"But we know now, you know, he [Bush]'s down in Crawford, Texas, and the White House let us know that he's broughten some books with us..."

Broughten! The mind reels; the "with us" goes by like a puff of air. The incontinent -en is a feature of English as she is spoke by three-to-five year olds. We're not picking nits off a confusion of "flout" and "flaunt" here, or the temporary confusion of pronoun and antecedent. The woman said "broughten". Which suggests a) they've only recently weaned her away from "he brung", and b) that "extremist" line may simply mean she sees too many ESPN2 promos or Sierra Mist commericals. Maybe she just thought a lot of them looked like skateboarders. It's the holidays; let's be charitable.

But the thing that gets me is that having just uttered what even she must have recognized as the grammatical howler of the season, does she correct herself, or make some self-deprecating comment about it so we all know she knew she slipped? No. She gave a little hair toss and showed about twenty-six teeth, as if to say, "Let's see Edward R. Mungro, or whatever his name was, do this.

(Which reminds me: my Christmas present from my wife was the absurdly expensive DVD of SCTV's third-season, and the highlight so far is a conversation with two titans of comedy, Catherine O'Hara and Martin Short. O'Hara tells the story of how she came up with the Lola Heatherton character--the lip quiver from Falana, Joey's hairdo, etc. And how through a mutual friend she received a photo of Joey in a mesh top, braless, signed, "Dear Catherine, try this. Joey Heatherton.")

The flub almost made me miss the underlying idiocy. Bush reads! And he's reading Robert Kaplan's Imperial Grunts, which--gasp!!--has a pull quote from page 369 that calls the Bush administration feckless and incoherent!! And we know he doesn't like criticism! Wow!

Which means that somebody, and I'm guessing it wasn't Norah, knew enough about Kaplan's Beltway buzz to have read his book and been able to dredge up the quote. Of course no one's going to suggest that maybe the White House is tossing off titles with some PR purpose in mind, but since someone somewhere at MSNBC was familiar with it, could we have noted that the "criticism" of Bush is that Kaplan thinks he's insufficiently Cowboyesque? Or that the quote in question refers to the "failure" to obliterate Fallujah the first time around, the better to have inspired the Sunni insurgency that much earlier? Is it of any significance that the President's "reading" list is war porn and half-baked (or twice-half-baked) neo-neo-con American Empire nocturnal emissions? Does anyone believe he'll actually make it to page 369?

Anyway, here's your award, Ms O'Donnell. You've earnded it.


Anonymous said...

My partner was sitting with me yesterday reading a newspaper and announced that "They say Bush is an avid reader." There was a pause, after which I noted that "Keep in mind this is the same administration that admits it considers lying to the press and planting fake stories to be good governance."

Of course, the last book my partner read all the way through was probably Mostly Harmless.

Anonymous said...

That was one of your besterest posts!

Anonymous said...

You mean this photo of Joey Heatherton?

Or this one?