The impeachment of another deluded would-be monarch from the party of Less Gumint was going on in 1974, but I remember also something else. A cover story in Rolling Stone that year spotlit one Evel Knievel as the King of the Goons. It was written by one, Joe Eszterhas, later to win fame and influence movies towards less mind than violence and less grace than either.
I do remember much of that story written so long ago. It seemed structured out of unlikely events, like a James Frey epic, and it detailed a strategy with which we are all familiar. Briefly, during the lead-up to a monster jump this lunatic had planned, riding a special order rocket over the Snake River gorge, Knievel seemed to be losing it. During a routine briefing he verbally assaulted a short, inoffensive member of the press crew. Selective Intimidation, said Eszterhas, and it works. The rest of the pool remained docile.
I have long wondered about the tactic of selecting a member of your opposition to make your best case with the worst of the other side. Sometimes I think it’s merely evolution, the way free radicals inside your very own mitrochrondia are meant to age you so you’ll leave the stage to other voices other rooms. (That’s right, your body is out to get you.) In the meta-body of politics, the press just naturally gathers around the most brash and bellicose personality. The best friend Joe Stalin had in America, by far, was the megalomanical bullyboy Joe McCarthy, who lent a bloated buffoonish countenance to anti-communism forever.
My brother Reloj had fun with various hypochristians over the years. He would pick out the most flawed reverends and his debating partner would have to either uphold or abandon a brother in Christ. I wondered if there were not a similar feature in the very earliest of the gospels. Did the Pharisees seek to use a harmless little preacher from the hinterlands as a lightning rod for the tumult of rebellion even then broiling in Judea? (It would consume them quite in another 37 years.)
Was Lenny Bruce busted by the vice squad for "obscenity" because he was the most vulnerable of the current performers, a junky? Was the prattling blonde chosen for The View simply to position her point of view as silly? And should we suspect sabotage when the most despicable failure of a national leader on these grounds since forever is followed by his party’s selection of a ridiculous retread together with a laughable simpleton to chant the company code themes which led us into this morasss?
Little Jindal from Louisiana, Limbo goes ever lower, but it might be said these are natural phenomena, for any nation in its doting sinks the awareness to the dullest, the dimmest bulbs, who ever follow their Howard Beales to their windows to raise them and shout, "I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore."
And never, ever in all the movie Network is there the slightest suggestion of an explanation of just what everyone is so mad about. They are angry because they are disatisfied because they have not achieved their just desserts, and they understand neither the process nor the program.
They are, in fine, the natural audience for a deranged cheerleader. They are the core of the Repugnant Party.
* wrang-wrang: A person who steers people away from a line of speculation by reducing that line, with the example of the wrang-wrang’s own life, to an absurdity. (From The Dictionary of Bokonism)