I can’t get over the known facts of this (like a good journo, I say: alleged) wiretapping attempt in Louisiana. Every part of it is a forehead-smacker, up to and including the priceless detail that this escapade is, hello, a felony, meaning right-wing hero James O’Keefe is now in very very big trouble. Which doesn’t make it any less funny.
If the facts of the case turn out to be anything like the allegations of the case, it’s pretty clear what happened here: A stupid, heedless young man, drunk on attention and looking for a followup to a coup that landed him on all the big Fox talk shows, made the mistake of assuming that because he’s smarter than a criminally dumb Acorn office worker, he’s smarter than everyone. You have to admire his logic: I was on “Fox & Friends,” ergo, I am smart. In a better world, his ridiculous pimp outfit alone would have gotten him laughed out of anything other than a Halloween party; instead, he got a hidden-camera scoop. And so he learned the lesson every reporter learns after his or her first big story: Sooner or later your editor is going to wander past your desk, stop and say, “So, what do you have coming for tomorrow?”
O’Keefe appears to have been lining up his second act when he and his buddies were arrested, “wearing jeans, fluorescent green vests, tool belts and hard hats.” Because that would fool anyone, right? Everybody needs a hard hat to work in an office phone closet.
I used to work with a bulldog of a reporter who once tried to sneak into a hospital ER — a homicide scene — wearing a white lab coat and carrying a clipboard. He was thrown out almost immediately, but it scored big A-for-effort points with the bosses and people called him “doctor” for a while afterward. It’s funny how disguises work: Badly, most of the time. You can go to the uniform-supply store and stock up, but you almost always get important details wrong. You forget the way nurses put stickers on their name tags. You wear the wrong shoes. (Maybe you’ve been watching “House” and assume all female physicians wear stilettos and plunging necklines, like Dr. Cuddy.) You forget to erase the expression from your face and give off a nervous vibe. There’s a reason good actors make good money. A believable impersonation is no small achievement.
That this ridiculous caper was attempted in the company of the son of a U.S. attorney only makes it funnier. Things may look grim for Democrats in 2010, but as long as there are young men like James O’Keefe in the world, we’ll always have entertainment.
A tangent, but it just popped into my head: I remember, in the film “Crumb,” a scene where Robert Crumb goes out making sketches of the little infrastructure details in American cities. He was about to move to France, and wanted to get them down so he wouldn’t forget to put them in the backgrounds of his drawings — high-tension wires, street lights, fire hydrants, concrete blocks at the end of parking places, all visual clutter we see-but-don’t, and only notice when they’re missing. That’s what people forget when they’re trying to be someone else.
A few years ago, I looked up from my desk in the newsroom to see Sen. Evan Bayh walking past, en route to a meeting with the editorial board. He is exactly what he appears to be in his photos — tall, slim,
blonde*, blandly handsome in that vote-for-me kind of way. His suit fit him well without being overly European. If Hoosiers can be Brahmins, that’s what he looked like. Behind him scurried a number of aides, the lead one carrying all the hardware; his pants sagged from the weight of the multiple cell-phone holsters, pagers and PDAs he carried, this being before the era of consolidation in a single device. The way his navy-blue blazer stuck out at strange angles at his waist — that was the detail a costume designer trying to duplicate the look for a movie would struggle with. But it was the detail that established his station in life, the way Bayh’s slim weightlessness distinguished his own.
And with that, a discussion of misbehavior and one of the aide’s burden, we can segue neatly to the wisps of John Edwards’ dignity, blowing in the wind now that his own factotum is turning on him:
According to Young, (Reille) Hunter called him in May 2007 to say she was pregnant. Young says that when he informed Edwards, the senator told him to “handle it,” to which he replied: “I can’t handle this one.” Young writes that Edward unloaded on Hunter as a “crazy slut,” said they had an “open relationship,” and put his paternity chances at “one in three.” Young says that Edwards asked him for help persuading Hunter to have an abortion. Young writes that Hunter believed the baby to be “some kind of golden child, the reincarnated spirit of a Buddhist monk who was going to help save the world.”
Crazy Agnes of God believed she was carrying the Almighty’s baby. Crazy new-age girls believe they’re Buddha’s baby mama. It’s all crazy, and it’s all cringeworthy, through and through.
Guerrilla bridge-makers step up to do what city won’t. I’m intrigued to learn this pipe has been leaking across a New York City sidewalk for “years” — I thought that only happened in Detroit. Down near Alan’s office a couple years back, a broken water main leaked into the street for months on end before it was repaired, and the city’s jury-rig for the winter was to come down from time to time and dump a load of salt on it, simultaneously appalling and funny. When we went to Buenos Aires, I noticed how broken sidewalks and other pedestrian hazards were far less likely to be cordoned off with tape or marked by cones. Walk at your own risk! It’s a dangerous world out there.
And I must turn to work. Enjoy Hump Day, however you spend it.
* Hoosier readers object to the designation of Bayh as a blonde, and after examining the photo record, I think they’re right. I always picture him as sort of an ashy dark blonde in my head, but now his hair is dark brown. He’s almost certainly covering the gray; maybe going darker is more believable than keeping him light. Whatever, only his hairdresser knows for sure. Corrected.