Usually when a public figure of some sort declares that the latest election or Supreme Court decision was “the last straw,” and they’re seriously considering depriving the United States of their presence and moving to, say, Qatar or Monaco or an island in French Polynesia (Rwanda or Iran rarely make the list), I’m tempted to send them a note and offer to help pay for airfare. I figure we could muddle by without them.
But the much more permanent departure of a few of my favorite public figures leaves me feeling bereft years later. (My favorite public figures are rarely movie stars or politicians.)
Often at 12:00 noon, I still reflexively feel a desire to tune in Paul Harvey: “Hello, Americans! Stand by for news!” He loved this country, and we loved him for loving us. And he was wise: “If we cannot count on ourselves to do the right thing, how can we count on anyone or anything else? Self-government won’t work without self-discipline.”
For years, the very best part of a 60 Minutes program was the very last part when the quintessential curmudgeon Andy Rooney closed the show. It wasn’t just our imaginations, Rooney might point out, but we were getting ripped off by much-diminished coffee “cans” and shrinking ice cream “buckets.” He’d have noticed that toilet paper rolls are contracting in width. Along that line, he did comment, “I’ve learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.” The fact that Rooney possessed a rather faulty filter regarding political correctness and got in trouble occasionally for telling unpopular truths made me like him even more. And those eyebrows! Yep, worthy of a curmudgeon. Surely their “tips” would brush the frames of a normally-sized door.
Maybe a bit less famous, but always amazing, the late Charles Krauthammer is prominent on my list. He once wrote about the airport security line as a “national homage to political correctness,” noting that “nowhere do more people meekly acquiesce to more useless inconvenience and needless indignity for less purpose.”
He didn’t say, but he might have said, that if aging former psychiatrists turned columnists and using wheelchairs (like himself) started blowing up airplanes, only a very blind and very foolish TSA agent with all of the common sense trained completely out of him wouldn’t engage in some very sensible profiling and halt the wanding of a blue-haired little lady to pay more attention to the frowning guy rolling through.
Krauthammer laughed about a system that subjects an airline pilot (who has full access to airplane controls) to full-body screening, presumably because he might have stuffed explosives in his underwear. “Do you really think I’m a Nigerian nut job preparing for my 73-virgin orgy by blowing my johnson to kingdom come?” (I still laugh. I probably should apologize.) Educated, yes, as an MD specializing in psychiatry, Krauthammer also wrote, regarding a now-former president, “I used to think [he] was an 11-year-old, an undeveloped schoolyard bully. I was off by about 10 years.” (I agree. I probably should apologize.) Death (in 2018) spared Krauthammer from far more grievous evidence.
I’d be surprised if you completely agree with me on my list, but I’d encourage you to make your own. It’s obvious, isn’t it? You don’t have to agree with their every opinion or comment (I don’t even agree with myself on all of my opinions) to be genuinely grateful to God for those who’ve done such a good job making you think, thank, and laugh.
Our Father knows that we need to do a lot more of all three.
P. S. Need I mention that the opinions stated above regarding the opinions of the three folks mentioned above are simply my own? But if someone would like to “cancel” me, turn me off, or tune me out, feel free. I’m feeling a bit tired and, one might say, “curmudgeonly.” After several decades of writing these weekly and weakly, I’m wondering occasionally if cancellation would be a calamity. But thanks for reading!
Muleshoe Journal Correspondent