No give-and-take on show here

Know your Billy Joel lyrics? Not even the Greatest of the lot?

Ya still don’ geddit? Try again:

It was so easy living day by day,
Out of touch with the rhythm and blues;
But now I need a little give-and-take —
The New York Times, The Daily News

Malcolm could count on one hand the number of occasions he’s dealt with The Daily News. It sells a third or even a quarter of the copies shifted by the NY Times. Perhaps a fifth of the Wall Street Journal. For their faults:

  • the one (whose main error is an irritating heavy capitalisation of story titles) circulates beyond regionally, but is found freely the length and breadth of the “TriState area”;
  • the other (whose faults start with Murdoch and Newscorp, then extend across a whole Alpine range of right-wing prejudices) is about as close as the US gets to a serious nationwide/national daily paper.

That said, the paper on the saloon bar, or left on the MTA seat, is more likely to be the Noos. You also met it in the opening scene of Guys and Dolls:

What’s in the Daily News
I’ll tell you what’s in the Daily News
Story about a man bought his wife a small ruby 
With what otherwise would have been his union dues. 
That’s what’s in the Daily News.

So, Malcolm, why otherwise is the Noos worthy of note?

Well, folks: today it tells it straight. No chaser. It knows whom to blame:

The House Speaker is not serving America’s interests
— just the demands of his party’s most rabid partisans

The government of the United States of America is closed for business today, courtesy of the Republican Party. It’s a national embarrassment, like a scene from the Marx Brothers’ classic 1933 satire “Duck Soup,” only without the anarchic humor.

Hail Freedonia!

Who produced today’s farce? Was it the Tea Party hotheads, 50 or so House Republicans who love ideological combat but hate governing? Or was it Sen. Ted Cruz, perhaps the most cunning demagogue America has produced since Joe McCarthy?

All played their discreditable parts. But the man in the director’s chair is John Boehner, who is bidding for the title of worst House speaker in U.S. history.

It’s only half-a-dozen years since the unfortunate Boehner’s predecessor was being similarly lambasted:

Dennis Hastert, who served eight years as the most lamentable Speaker of the House in the chamber’s history, began a slow exit from the Congress Friday. It was on that day that the former wrestling coach, who attained the speakership not on the basis of any political skills or policy expertise but because he was willing to front for the unpalatable Tom DeLay, announced his decision not to seek reelection from the Illinois district that has elected him since 1986.

As that John Nichols piece for The Nation suggested, there has been some stiff competition for the non-acolade:

Aside from the indicted, the disgraced and the disreputable, there have been the indefensible — like Howell Cobb, who used his pre-Civil War speakership to promote the extension of slavery. Cobb would eventually find his true calling as the speaker of the Provisional Confederate Congress and the acting president of the southern states that seceded from the U.S. in treasonous defense of human bondage.

Could the shambling, ineffectual and frequently inarticulate Hastert really have been a worse Speaker of the House than a crude proponent of slavery, or a crook like Jim Wright or a conniving partisan like Newt Gingrich? Absolutely.

The young things, those with shorter recall than Malcolm, or those with no great handle on Congressional history may need a nudge that Speaker Jim Wright (Texas, Democrat — so we’re being impartial) was done over 69 breaches of House rules, to the tune of $145,000 of “improper gifts” (sc:  bribes) from a Fort Worth property developer. And that was back in 1989, when a dollar was really a dollar.

Now Wright, Gingrich, Hastert have gone the way of Cobb, to be supplanted in ignominy by Boehner? Perhaps so … until a new contender comes along.

But the Noos deserves a putty medal for today’s striking front page:



1 Comment

Filed under History, New York City, New York Times, United States, US politics

One response to “No give-and-take on show here

  1. Pingback: A quacking follow-up | Malcolm Redfellow's Home Service

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