Tags: letterman | palin

Letterman in Breach of American Contract

Tuesday, 16 Jun 2009 03:42 PM

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The boxer dragged himself back to his corner as the bell sounded, marking the end of 10 miserable rounds. His disgusted manager leaned through the ropes and whispered into the hapless fighter's ear, "I gotta great idea. Next time he hits you, hit him back!"

That's not bad advice for Republicans or conservatives or whatever you want to call our side after this many losing rounds. The more I ponder it, the more brilliant it seems to me. Consider: They act. We react. They demonize our players. We respond only if, when, and as they trigger our honest outrage. Whoever said outrage has to be honest?

David Letterman lets fly a few characteristically tasteless jokes against Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her daughter who bore a child out of wedlock, who, inconveniently for Letterman, was not the daughter with the governor at the Yankee game. The joke embodied the vulgar phrase "knocked up," which Yankee star Alex Rodriguez was comically alleged to have done unto Palin's 14-year-old daughter during the seventh-inning stretch.

Ted Kavanau is a celebrity TV news producer who, in retirement, produces a 24/7 e-mail "channel" with an audience that probably rivals local newscasts in fairly large cities. Kavanau's contributors called for Todd Palin to demand that Letterman meet him in the dark alley of his choice like a man. The Niagara of insults to Letterman's character sent in to Kavanau was emotionally satisfying to this confessed nostalgia-afflicted observer who laments the passing of a once-upright American culture.

A major attorney, a key Republican activist since the '60s, called me and wondered why in hell our side didn't have a perpetual picketing team outside CBS to imbue the negative feeling against Letterman and CBS with stamina and longevity.

Those responses to Letterman were honest. I say, give that honesty some tactical follow-through. It's easy to cheer full-throatedly for your team when they intercept a pass and run for a touchdown. But don't you also go along and offer a "duty yell" when the cheerleader is trying to get the juices churning with "Hold that line!"

Let's now review the doctrine of "perpetual breach." Some contracts are written to make sure the employer can fire employees cleanly and with no fear of backtalk at any time, by deliberately keeping them in a state of perpetual breach, literally forcing the employees to live constantly in a state of violation of the contract.

Once I worked for a radio station that hired me to do a live talk-show pin-wheeling around the headlines of the day. Somewhere between Pages 3 and 5 of the contract it demanded that I provide the station with a written script of my entire show 24 hours in advance. They knew it couldn't possibly be done. And for 15 years my "violation" was overlooked. At any point, though, they could have ditched me with no effort more strenuous than a yawn.

I say there's a situation in America today that one day may make Letterman an inadvertent hero of the conservative movement. The celebrities of American culture are in serious breach of American values. Movie star Clark Gable may have broken the dam with the word "damn" in the 1939 classic "Gone With the Wind," and words like "bastard" and "butt" get bandied handily about these days, but we're still a long way from a culture that's comfortable with tales of 14-year-old girls getting knocked up by baseball stars loping in from the field for a public quickie during the seventh-inning stretch.

There's an almost spooky unwritten "truce" hanging over the land whereby we "wholesomites" have surrendered Hollywood, network TV, the corner newsstand, and the pop music industry to the vulgarians in return for not having to hear the F-word at our home dinner parties.

The David Lettermans of the culture deliver depravity with unspectacular regularity. They are in breach of the American contract. The majority of us reject that depravity with varying degrees of intensity, but we're just not the type to try to do anything about it so long as their depravity does not greet our ears or eyes uninvited.

That's the deal. We don't have to settle for that deal. We can have a better one. Rahm Emanuel says a financial crisis is too important a thing to waste. I say America's Great Lake of cultural sewage is too important a thing to waste.

Why rail out against Letterman's excess only when it breaks through the culture's roof and dominates the news? And why quit when your venting of your outrage is satiated? We wholesomites can do wonderful things with all the opportunities offered by the vulgarian community.

With the present Democratic Party majority and the impending dam-break of illegal immigrants being shepherded into the voting system, we can't afford to sneer at James Carville with his prediction of Democratic domination for another 40 years. What might save the Republicans and, in my view, the nation?

No amount of brilliant debate, denunciations of socialism, grass-roots doorbell-ringing, increased fundraising or reaching out to minorities can reverse that awesome math. I see one and only one salvation, one answer, one cavalry galloping to the rescue. And that's the scandalously high percentage of non-voters who might haul off and vote.

"They" — the left — attack us constantly. We are under perpetual indictment as the warmongers, the bullies, the neo-Nazis , the racists, the mean-minded, the selfish, the torturers and the stupid who say things like "Golly!" and "You betcha!" and live under the cosmic geographic delusion that we can see Russia from our bedrooms.

I say, let the nation be made aware that they are the ones who make jokes about underage girls getting knocked up and they are the ones who laugh at those jokes and beg for more.

A great and growing horde of picketers, maybe with neckties and fresh carnations in their lapels, in front of CBS would force the major media at a kind of "gunpoint" to keep the drive alive; keep the story running on and on and on. While more and more heretofore-non-voters get a clear and honest view of one interesting difference between us and them. Let the non-voters know which side says things a lot more disgusting than "Golly!" and "You betcha!"

They're in breach. Call them on it. Keep it going. Smile. Have fun. Be wholesome. And proud.

And hit them back.

In fact, hit them back first.

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