Has Boehner become the newest Existentialist?

Since the World’s Laziest Journalist’s home office is devoid of Internet access, a TV set, and phone, the staff winds up listening to the radio or playing old musical tapes when it comes time to kick back and chill out.  Since there ain’t a hella (note to AARP site editor types: that may not sound right to you but that’s <I>de rigueur</I> jive for the young folks) variety of choices on the radio, we tend to go to extremes.  Uncle Rushbo is fascinating listening because he keeps pushing towards the limits to gain the inevitable liberal media publicity.  Every time he comes close to going over the edge, he winds up landing safely and thus brings to mind a segment of the movie “Rebel Without a Cause.”  (“Where’s Buzz?”)  On the other end of the spectrum is Mike Malloy who is just as fully committed to his beliefs as is the King of Oxycontin.  (If you had to spout Republican spin all year long, wouldn’t you have an insatiable appetite for pain killers, too?) 

Lately Malloy seems extremely distressed about the prognoses for democracy.  He may need a refresher course on the philosophy of the guys who wrote for the underground newspaper, Combat, which was published in Paris during the German occupation. 

Would it be too esoteric and arcane to assert that listening to both Uncle Rushbo and Malloy would be comparable to reading both the Paris Zeitung and Combat? 

Recently we attended a screening of the film “Casablanca.”  We knew that Humphrey Bogart’s role as Fred C. Dobbs in “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” had made a lasting impression (and had an influential effect?), but we had not been aware that his role as Ricky Blaine had also made itself felt long after we first saw it.  Blaine was existentialism in action.

If there was a book title Zen and the Art of Existentialism; we’d recommend it to both those radio personalities.  Ricky Blaine learned the <I>laissez faire</I> attitude in Paris (home of existentialist thinking) and, after that, pretty much kept away from partisan politics.  When a group of boisterous members of the German military attached to diplomatic duty in Casablanca sang a patriotic song, Ricky tried to balance things out by advising the band leader to play the Marseilles just to keep things on an even keel.  

Some of the best segments of the Malloy program occur when he and his screener/producer/wife Kathy quibble over fact finding bits of trivia.  It’s obvious that their emotional relationship doesn’t impinge on their attempts for hair-splitting bits of factual accuracy.  One assumes that they have read Robert L. Stevenson’s essay on how to conduct a stimulating but civilized conversation.  Are they trying to become the modern equivalent of Tex and Jinx Falkenburg?  Unfortunately that’s one bit of radio history we missed. 

We might, if we had a phone, call Rush and suggest that he listen to the Malloys and then think about putting his wife on the air with him.   Then we realized that wouldn’t work.  Equality in marriage is a Democratic Party type thing and Rush would lose so much street cred, his ratings would plummet.  Haven’t we read somewhere on the Internets that Uncle Rushbo’s audience is diminishing? 

Some nights Malloy comes perilously close to being a Xerox copy of the fictional TV journalist Howard Beal.  Recently he was lamenting the fact that there seems to be two systems of justice.  One for über-wealthy Republicans (like Uncle Rushbo?) and another for “Just Us.”  We were tempted to call Mike (if we had a phone) and suggest that it might be an appropriate time for his wife/producer to play the Waylon Jennings song that has the lament about “if I’dda killed her when we first met; I’d be outta jail by now.”  The guy in the song mustta been a Republican, eh?

Since Malloy does repeatedly reference Mario Savio’s most famous quote, if we had a phone we’d call Malloy and suggest that he read Albert Camus’ “The Rebel” because Malloy would be sure to find a shipload of hand-dandy quotes.  If the Republicans are going to rely on existentialism to bolster their program, it might be a good bit of self-defense preparation to read some Sartre and Camus.

His recent steak of pessimism would be the perfect opportunity to play the perfect example of nihilistic/existentialistic commingling contained in Howard’s speech at the end of “Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”  Fate has played a practical joke on liberals.  Get over it.

If Malloy did read up on the existentialists, wouldn’t he eventually encounter the cusp area where Zen and nihilism overlap?  Didn’t Jean-Paul Sartre practice Nietzsche’s <I>amor fati</I> lesson i.e. “So Be It!” when he was a German prisoner of war and he used the time to write a new play?

Folks love to portray college professors as “pointy-headed” intellectuals with far left political opinions who bandy about references to obscure books such as “Nausia,” but didn’t all the teabaggers do a marvelous job of stifling their amusement recently when John Boehner snuck a crafty allusion to the <I>amor fati</I> lesson from Nietzsche into a press conference?  Didn’t the teabaggers love it when he was paraphrasing the existentialists and the liberals didn’t even notice?  What teabagger couldn’t savor the delicious irony of that?

[Note:  for those intellectuals who quibble over the pronunciation of the name of the Speaker of the House, we have one question:  Isn’t Boeotia phonetically bee-oh-shah?  Do Republicans use the word Boeotian (bee-ocean) in it’s stupid or boorish person meaning to denote a Democrat?  Shouldn’t the Speaker’s name be pronounce as if (phonetically) were bee-ner?]

If some teabagging existentialist troll has read this far, we will counter the objection that this column is a shameless example of a partisan attempt to “suck up” to Malloy, we would point out that it is being posted on Thursday, February 17, 2011, and that means that when Malloy broadcasts tonight, the audience in Berkeley CA will hear women’s college basketball and this columnist will be at the Berkeley 7 watching “The Fifth Element.”

In “The Rebel,” (Vintage Book paperback page 41) Albert Camus wrote:  “In politics his (i.e. Marquis de Sade’s) real position is cynicism.  In his <I>Society of the Friends of Crime</I> he declares himself ostensibly in favor of the government and its laws, which he meanwhile has every intention of violating.  It is the same impulse that makes the lowest form of criminal vote for conservative candidates.”  In the Republican Party, isn’t cynicism one of the seven cardinal virtues?  Don’t most teabaggers recognize the fact that Boehner knows his Camus, while the liberals sit and listen to him with dropped jaw incredulity. 

The disk jockey will now play: “Helter Skelter,” “Street Fighting Man,” and Waylon Jenning’s “Out of Jail.”  We have to see if folks in Berkeley can pick up the XERB signal because we’d love to hear the Wolfman again.  Have an “of all the gin joints in all the world, she had to walk into mine” type week.

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