Friday, August 08, 2008

Credit Where Credit Is Due

In this case, to Leonard Pitts, a syndicated columnist I can usually rely on to irk me. Writing about rude reactions to the news of Robert Novak's brain tumor (and noting that Novak is a columnist who irks him), he offers this thought:
...The thing is, there are truths above politics and
one of them is that you do not laugh at the other guy's tragedy.

He's right. Sure, slips and gaffes by the Other Guy are fair game for mockery and how; but when Ted Kennedy showed up with brain cancer, that's a fate I wouldn't even wish on, well, Ted Kennedy. It's not funny.

When your stock-in-trade is drive-by snark, perspective is hard to come by. We set our own limits* and try to abide by them but in the heat of the moment...? Sometimes it's hard to remember that the Other Guy isn't a cardboard cut-out (despite the evidence).
* Astute observers may have noticed that I attempt to refer consistently to politicians and other Inflated Personages by their right name and proper title. This not just a reaction to the play-with-name game found in the blogosphere; television news is increasingly in the habit of using naked patronymics for such persons: the last name and nothing but. I'm not sure if it's deliberate disrespect or the same kind of exalted deference that gives us "Caesar," "Caligula" and "Charlemagne," but either way, I'm not playin' along. They put on their names one leg at a time, just like the rest of us.


Anonymous said...

While I admit that it's puerile, I do enjoy sometimes playing the name game. Really, it's to show a lack of respect, which is oftentimes deserved. For example, I long ago stopped using the titular "President", preferring instead the naked "Bush" or sometimes "Mr. Bush". My reason for doing so is in recognition of his failure to uphold his oath of office. Yeah, he got voted in, but he ain't doin' the job as described.

Tangental to that, one thing that irks me is when people continue to use the title, even when out of office. That wasn't the idea -- wasn't there some notion about "citizen legislators"? This annoyed me no end a few years ago when I chanced upon a Larry King interview with Al Gore. King continued to address him as "Mr. Vice President", even though he no longer held that office. IIRC, Gore addressed King as "Larry".

I read an anecdote a while back about how some guy, when addressed by his doctor using his first name, replied to his doctor likewise. Said doctor was taken aback. But it's kinda interesting how sometimes we have these inequalities of formality in address, even where there's no reason for them. I was pleasantly surprised when my last dentist introduced himself as "Dr. Whatzitz, or Chris".

Anonymous said...

Jed, I disagree. I understand, but we actually elected the vile Mr. Clinton. Hell, I remember when we elected Mr. Carter. Regardless, they held the office.
I wish I could say I'm sorry about Teddy, but I can't. Mussolini, Stalin, Pol Pot? The only difference is what their countries would allow them to do.
Teddy killed one human. In another context, he'd have killed more if it were to his benefit, I think. Just my opinion.