From the Department of Whaddaya Mean We, White Man?, Detroit’s very own Mitch Albom has found a new vein of cheap sentiment to mine, and it is rich indeed, i.e., the so-called “open letter” trope:
Do you want to watch us drown? Is that it? Do want to see the last gurgle of economic air spit from our lips? If so, senators, know this: We’re taking a piece of you with us. America isn’t America without an auto industry. You can argue whether $14 billion would have saved it, but your actions surely could have killed it.
We have grease on our hands.
You have blood.
Huh? You do? Grease? Where did that come from, passing a tip to the masseuse? This piece is headlined, Hey, you senators: Thanks for nothing. I suppose we should be grateful the editor didn’t try to channel the driving spirit behind the piece, and call it “t’anks for nuttin’!” But it’s bad enough as it is, a millionaire claiming solidarity with The People — worse, claiming to be a voice of the people. (One would hope that The People, if allowed to speak for themselves, could come up with a better turn of phrase than “the last gurgle of economic air,” etc. I do, anyway.)
The prose gets worse, too. You all know Mitch’s favorite rhetorical device: The single-sentence paragraph set off by lots of dramatic white space. Note the next passage; this may be a record:
And now you want those foreign companies, which you lured, and which get help from their governments, to dictate to American workers how much they should be paid? Tell you what. You’re so fond of the foreign model, why don’t you do what Japanese ministers do when they screw up the country’s finances?
They cut their salaries.
Or they resign in shame.
When was the last time a U.S. senator resigned over a failed policy?
Yet you want to fire Rick Wagoner?
Who are you people?
I like that last one — Who are you people? It’s the latest way to say How dare you?, a phrase that always packs a punch. Why I never is another goodie, the verbal equivalent of a clutched strand of pearls. Albom is a short little guy, a fact that doesn’t come across on ESPN, which perhaps explain his effortless belligerence in print. If he actually walked onto a shop floor, they’d pull the old no-really-we-need-you-to-be-the-crash-test-dummy joke. And he’d believe it.
Last check: The story had been recommended 825 times by readers. Probably a record. Most popular? Yup. Most e-mailed? Yup. I smell…book contract!
Well, he’s going to need one. I assume you all heard the news that leaked over the weekend, which hasn’t been formally announced yet. As it stands, you all know as much as I do, including how it might affect our household. I’m hoping for the best and expecting the worst, and if I can get something in between, I’ll be happy.
Of course, there are other ways to make money in this crazy world.
I’m posting this Sunday and spending Monday a) waiting for Sears to deliver our new washing machine, because of course no economic crisis can be complete without a major appliance throwing in the towel; b) studying Russian sentence structure; and c) writing and writing and writing and writing, in the hopes that someone might throw me a few coins for it, someday. I suppose Dwight has a lecture he’s about to deliver in 5,4,3…
You all have a good week.
UPDATE: For a lesson in how to say all the same things Mitch Albom said, only in less eye-rolling fashion, see the great Gretchen Morgenson in the NYT.