They used to find Imus like this
Appeasing the Geezer
Posted by James Wolcott
Yes, it is a bit much for Don Imus to have a sudden attack of Emily Post and start grouching about the political comments chestily flown at Coretta Scott King's funeral service in the presence of President Bush and his lovely wife Rita. Racial enlightment has never been a shining hallmark of the Imus show, from the verbal blackface of their Sambo caricatures of black celebrities to Sid Rosenberg's infamous dig at the Williams sisters to Imus's own use of the 'n' word, which he first denied, then admitted sheepishly, as if he had been caught making a naughty.* The white elitist media-fraternity racism of the show is matched only by its bullyboy hazing of women, particularly the unfortunate female broadcasters from Janice Dean to Contessa Brewer who have had to put up with the jeering innuendos of Imus's over-the-hill gang, of which he's the reigning Jack Elam.
But there's another reason Imus felt the white politicians and black preachers went over the line with Bush and Rita parked there, forced to listen. He has an affinity for bubble boy, because Imus is a bubble boy himself. In his studio, surrounded by his chortling crew, he acts unassailable, a cranky king refusing to bow and scrape to anyone, no matter how famous or powerful; complaining about minor annoyances like an old fart hunting for his lost liniment; threatening to go nuclear on some salesperson or WFAN exec who thwarts or offends him; bragging about his expensive vehicles or leased jets; telling people in advance not to talk to him or otherwise impose their petty presence in his field of vision. A lot of it is shtick, but a lot of it is not; he's a very coddled man who expects to be coddled, and crabs like a baby with diaper rash when he isn't.
Take him out of the bubble with no backup and he's just a upright piece of driftwood. When he goes on Russert or Larry King or Letterman, he's a curly muff of hair under a cowboy hat whose jaw is constantly chawing gum and who answers the softball question with a monotonous mumble heavily punctuated with monosyllabic "Well...'s" and "Ya knows...'s". In short, without Charles to play straight man and Bernie to be instigator, Imus has got nothing. He just shuffles the usual insults around (everyone he dislikes is some combination of fat/lying/weasel/pig), as the hosts hoot it up as if he were Mark Twain reincarnated. He has no real convictions, wavering back and forth on issues while spewing the conventional wisdom on politicians with special odium reserved for Bill Clinton, who has all the charisma working single that Imus lacks as he sucks dead air.
The most embarrassing thing is how supposed media hotshots cater to Imus in his bubble, damn near polish it for him. No one ever tells him even in a nice way that he doesn't know what the hell he's babbling about, instead they pretend to hear a more nuanced and intelligent question than the one he muttered. Or worse, they pretend to be one of the club and, like Tom Oliphant, talk about boosting Andrea Mitchell's book sales because she's a member of the club too.
Today Maureen Dowd was on, doing her usual cutesy-nervous number (I don't know how you can cut it as a seductress when you so transparently want guys to, um, like, like you), and at one point Imus said that she's gotta stop bashing Bush in her column, he and Charles and everybody else are bored with it, she's just gotta let it go, all that Rummy stuff, ya know, enough already...
And instead of the Pulitzer Prize winning Times writer saying, It's my column, I'll write what I want to, or, We've got three years left in the Bush presidency, I can hardly ignore him and it, no, instead of standing up for herself, she said in the coyest, cloyingest manner possible, "Well, I beat up a little on Hillary at the end of the column today." As if she were trying to appease the geezer. As if she hadn't bashed Hillary all those years Bill C. was president, and will no doubt be bashing her again ad nauseum in the future. Dowd, Rich, Oliphant,--all of these so-called liberals handle their liberalism with oven mitts on Imus's show, too obsequious to just throw their convictions out there hard and clear (while conservative guests such as Mary Matalin, Laura Ingraham, and David Brooks are unapologetic in offering their opinions--they aren't expected to paw the carpet to earn master's approval).
Moreover, Imus has a new fundraising crusade, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a nonprofit state-of-the-art facility for veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts. It's commendable for Imus to raise money and awareness for the facility, but he knows as well as anyone that the reason military men and women are returning home with missing limbs, psychic trauma, nervous disorders, and loss of sight and hearing is because they were sent to fight a war that was based on deception and waged with cavalier disregard for the consequences. Many if not most of those fallen heroes suffered their severe injuries because Bush, Cheney, and their neocon advisors didn't prepare adequately for war and underestimated the enemy, to the sorrow of thousands. And yet Imus wants to attend to the veterans' pain and suffering without holding those accountable for their plight the least bit responsible. Instead, we're told, as the warbloggers often say, to 'get over it.' Why? Because Imus is bored with the whole debate. And when Imus is bored, the whole world is supposed to move on to accomodate his attention span.
The way Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd, Oliphant and the others behave on Imus's show lends credibility to the complaint that liberals don't have any balls. They handed their balls over to Imus years ago, so that he could autograph them, and auction them off as souvenirs to raise money for the ranch.
*from CBS's 60 Minutes, rebroadcast on NPR:
MIKE WALLACE: You told Tom ANDERSON, the producer, in your car coming home that Bernard McGuirk is there to do "nigger" jokes.
DON IMUS: Well I've n-- I never use that word.
MIKE WALLACE: Tom?
TOM ANDERSON: I'm right here.
DON IMUS: Did I use that word?
TOM ANDERSON: I recall you using that word.
DON IMUS: Oh, okay, well then I used that word, but I mean-- of course that was an off the record conversation-- [LAUGHTER]
MIKE WALLACE: The hell it was!
Imus is lame, which is why politicians flock to his show.
But I wonder how long they can ignore his racism
posted by Steve @ 1:14:00 AM