It is a minor journalistic cliché to call former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson "a gifted wordsmith." That he is. Gerson is the devout Christian (just ask him) whose presidential speeches contained subliminal messages to evangelicals ("wonder-working power", "an angel rides the whirlwind," etc.).
Gerson used these dog-whistle techniques to help persuade followers of the Prince of Peace to embrace an unjust, unwise, unwarranted war. A man who would contort the language of Christ and His followers to promote a war would, you'd think, have a high tolerance for how others use words. But not Mr. Gerson.
In a pompous, preening, prissy, preachy op-ed in the neoconservative Washington Post, Gerson excoriates, of all people, Al Franken. Why Franken? Well, Franken has committed a sin far more egregious than Bush, who, using Gerson's words, led thousands to a certain and unnecessary death. He told some dirty jokes.
Goody-Goody Gerson has the guts to cheer the Bush-Cheney war machine. But when Al Franken tells a poopy joke or a booby joke, Mikey gets all woozy. Someone quick get this frail flower a fan. He has the vapors.
Franken, more than most people I know, has thrown himself into supporting and comforting the soldiers whom Gerson's boss has used and abused. I can't count the number of USO trips Al has made, the troops he has entertained, the men facing death who had a brief laugh (maybe even at a wee-wee joke!) before heading back into combat. Or Al's many visits to military hospitals, the countless acts of true charity -- dare I say Christian charity? -- that this good man has committed while Gerson poses as a saintly supporter of senseless slaughter.
One of the Franken jokes Gerson is most nauseated by is Franken's 2006 monologue in which he allegedly impersonated Strom Thurmond saying, "Yeah, I screwed a woman who was vomiting once." Horrific, isn't it? But it's actually an example of satire being less shocking than truth. There is no record, (that I know of), of Strom Thurmond actually screwing a woman until she threw up. Hence Al's line was meant to be over-the-top, ridiculous, comic. But Thurmond did in fact have sex with a woman as she was being driven to the electric chair*, which I think is worse.
But that's just me. I think death is worse than sex. Perhaps for Mr. Gerson it's the other way 'round. He's clearly more comfortable putting words in the mouth of our incompetent, dishonest President; he's happy to be a sycophantic scribe for the bastards who have plunged us into this damnable war. But heaven forefend Al Franken - who opposes the war - would tell a dirty joke.
It is Mr. Gerson who is dirty and his writing which is a joke.
So I'm going to do some writing in response. Not just this post. I'm writing a check to Al Franken for Senate. Better still, I'm going to click here and donate right away. I hope you'll do the same. Stand up for good, clean dirty jokes and against sanctimonious, smug, speechwriters.
*See Jack Bass and Marilyn W. Thompson's book Ol' Strom for the full story of Strom nailing convicted murderer Sue Logue as she was being driven to the South Carolina death house in 1943. Logue's nephew said his aunt "was the only person ever seduced on the way to the electric chair." Thurmond's longtime, trusted driver, Randall Johnson, who witnessed the tryst on the highway to heaven -- or hell -- said the two were "a-huggin' and a-kissin' the whole way" to the death house.
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