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Daily Howler: Mr. O captures the sense of the season--and extends a long, ignored war
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HAPPY HORROR DAYS! Mr. O captures the sense of the season–and extends a long, ignored war: // link // print // previous // next //

HAPPY HORROR DAYS: Yes, it’s a bit of an alternate universe. Our entire staff spent the past week entertaining lucky onlookers at the Washington Improv, exploring the public mood at year’s end. As we engage today in re-entry procedures, we’ll only offer these few thoughts on things we’ve seen in the press.

First, good grief! We just read the concluding passage from yesterday’s column by Frank Rich:

RICH (12/11/05): Though the White House doesn't know that its jig is up, everyone else does. Americans see that New Orleans is in as sorry shape today as it was under Brownie three months ago. The bipartisan 9/11 commissioners confirm that homeland security remains a pork pit. Condi Rice's daily clarifications of her clarifications about American torture policies are contradicted by new reports of horrors before her latest circumlocutions leave her mouth. And the president's latest Iraq speeches—most recently about the ''success'' stories of Najaf and Mosul—still don't stand up to the most rudimentary fact checking.

This is why the most revealing poll number in the Times/CBS survey released last week was Mr. Bush's approval rating for the one area where things are going relatively well, the economy: 38 percent, only 2 points higher than his rating on Iraq. It's a measure of the national cynicism bequeathed by the Bush culture that seeing anything, even falling prices at the pump, is no longer believing.

Doggone it! Again, we’ll direct you to last Monday’s Krugman column to explain that low number on the economy (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/6/05). In terms of the economy, things may be “going relatively well” in Rich’s part of town, but, perhaps, not so well in most others. Krugman explained this matter last week. But to members of the Millionaire Pundit Set, these basics can be hard to grasp.

Second, we were pleased to see two columns in Saturday’s Post about the goon-like, alleged War on Christmas. But alas! Colbert King and Ruth Marcus did the honors (quite capably, we might add), rather than the Post’s higher-profile heavy-hitters. Is a War on Christmas underway when the nation’s marketers say “Happy Holidays” (not “Merry Christmas”) to customers whom they don’t even know? This silly claim extends the tedious, twenty-year, pseudo-conservative War on Our Discourse. We’ve waited and waited for major libs to tell the public about this long war, in which distraction and disinformation substitute for sensible discourse.

Dag! In the past week, even the audiences at the Improv seemed to be of mixed mind on this matter. The good news: On Friday night, we saw Larry the Cable Guy roll his eyes at this “war” rather capably on the Tonight show.

How kooky are the masterminds behind the war on the War Against Christmas? Last week, Bill O’Reilly captured the season on his radio program (for fuller quotation, see Media Matters):

O’REILLY (12/2/05): I am not going to let oppressive, totalitarian, anti-Christian forces in this country diminish and denigrate the holiday and the celebration. I am not going to let it happen. I'm gonna use all the power that I have on radio and television to bring horror into the world of people who are trying to do that. And we have succeeded. You know we've succeeded. They are on the run in corporations, in the media, everywhere. They are on the run, because I will put their face and their name on television, and I will talk about them on the radio if they do it. There is no reason on this earth that all of us cannot celebrate a public holiday devoted to generosity, peace, and love together. There is no reason on the earth that we can't do that. So we are going to do it. And anyone who tries to stop us from doing it is gonna face me.
As President Bush did on his not-quite-Christmas card, the totalitarian, anti-Christian voices are trying to offer an inclusive message—a message that includes those who aren’t Christian. Result? Mr. O—channeling the Prince of Peace—pledges to “bring horror” on them.
You can’t get dumber—you can’t get nuttier—but this sort of thing has gone on for decades. Pseudo-con crackpots, for the past twenty years, have waged a kooky War on Our Discourse. We keep waiting—wishing and hoping—that big scribes will let “the folks” know.

WHO THEY HAVE IN MIND: Who do the totalitarian forces (and President Bush) have in mind when they go inclusive? Marcus, who is Jewish, gave us a look at her children’s view of the season:

MARCUS (12/10/05): It may seem strange—even foolhardy—for a nice Jewish girl to be writing about Christmas. So let me say: I'm a huge fan, always have been, in a kind of nose-pressed-against-the-glass sort of way. When I was growing up in the New Jersey suburbs, my family used to pile into the car every Christmas and drive around looking at the lights, with my mother and I engaging in earnest discussion of what color scheme we'd choose. If I were Christian, I suspect, I'd be the sort of over-the-top type who buys ornaments year-round and has a drawer full of Christmas sweaters, the kind featuring pompoms as tree ornaments.

This is the time of year, though, when those of us who aren't Christian, or who don't celebrate Christmas, most feel our minority status. I've experienced this especially acutely since my children started to look longingly at shopping mall Santas (Santa's a nice guy, honey, but he's not for us) and ask why there are so few menorahs or dreidels among the reindeer and Christmas trees. (How to break this gently? Their team has a lot more players.)

No, Marcus’ kids won’t be ruined for life if they see more Santas and fewer menorahs. But why wouldn’t people want to bring them in fully? How sad—that Mr. O would bring down the horror on people who think of them too.