He knows what his first line has to be.
“What an idiot!” (Although “What a fool!” and “What a jerk!” are momentarily in the running.)
What he’s less sure about is exactly which idiot he has in mind.
Likewise his second and third lines: “How can you not know that?” and “Did you really think you’d get away with it?” They move easily from his fingertips to his computer screen. They move easily, although he still hasn’t decided to whom, precisely, he’s directing them.
Notice, too, how cleverly he’s set these questions in the second person — “How can you…?” “Did you really think…?” — instead of in the third person. In the third person, he’d have had to choose a pronoun. Choosing a pronoun would have meant deciding. Would have meant choosing his idiot.
“He” or “She.”
Weiner or Palin.
Over here, a congressman’s squirm-inducing online sex life. Over here, a former governor’s jaw-dropping ignorance of basic American history.
So he stalls.
The way it works, he’s supposed to decide: Pick one — only one — as most worthy of today’s scorn or ridicule. Take a few whacks at the week-long pile of denial, abandoned now — but only now, only when Anthony Weiner finally realizes he has no other choice. And a few more whacks at the sleazy, entitled, juvenile behavior that led to the denials in the first place.
Take a few whacks at the latest amazements from Sarah Palin’s Rolling Blunder Tour — who else could turn Paul Revere into a warn-the-British lobbyist for the NRA? And a few more whacks at her perfectly maddening (but perfectly-in-character) insistence that she got it right the first time. And even a few bonus whacks for her true believers’ desperate attempts to alter Paul Revere’s Wikipedia entry(!) so it would match up with their Statue of Gliberty’s multiple mistakes.
Targets as big as a barn, either of them.
But his heart isn’t in it.
He’s already written — it was just a few weeks ago, wasn’t it? during yet another outbreak of the Stupids? — about prominent men who’d gotten their brains confused with their groins, and who’d followed the latter right over the cliff. He’s already pointed out that these pillars of their communities are just one bad decision from throwing their lives and their reputations right into the Dumpster — and how, time after time, they insist on making those bad decisions anyway! How often can he shake his head in amazement?
And he’s already spent far more time watching and commenting on the exploits of a half-term governor of a far-off state than he should, especially given the fact that she seems to live her life these days for the express purpose of being watched and commented on. Why give her the satisfaction?
But then she’ll pop another whopper, another total train wreck of a public utterance, and he’ll feel the old tug once again, even though everybody who’s paying even the slightest bit of attention already knows the sorry state of her knowledge and her utter lack of concern about it, and anybody who isn’t already appalled won’t be any more appalled by anything else he can say about it. So why bother?
Because he’s expected to write about Sarah Palin today, that’s why. Just like he’s expected to write about Anthony Weiner today.
He can’t stall any longer — it’s time to choose. His fingers move back to the keyboard.
“Let’s talk about the debt ceiling.”
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.