Donald Kaul
Donald Kaul

Much ado about non-news stories

By - Sep 1st, 2010 04:00 am
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Did you see those pictures of Michelle Obama sashaying around Europe–Spain, I think it was–and staying at that fancy hotel? I mean, who does she think she is, Nancy Reagan? Isn’t she kind of getting ahead of herself, putting on airs?

Whoa! Wait a minute. Stop. Apparently the IT officer of the local Tea Party coven has hacked into my computer and these are the distressing results. I have deleted him.

The Tea Party tempest unleashed by the First Lady’s mid-summer vacation–only Marie Antoinette would have left her husband alone on his birthday, apparently–is a function of the August news cycle.

Every August, real news slows to a trickle. Even real journalists are forced to join Fox News in concentrating on some mini-scandal. Usually it’s a sex scandal, but we’ve had so many of those already this year that this August we had to make do with Mrs. Obama’s vacation. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most scandalous, I rate this one a -2.

What is it with the honkers of the Right? Every time one or both of the Obamas seems in danger of having a good time, talk radio goes ballistic. Remember when the couple went to New York City to take in a show? You would have thought they’d made off with the Crown Jewels.

Cokie Roberts once objected to their vacation in Hawaii as too “exotic,” suggesting that they should have gone to Myrtle Beach. Someone should tell Ms. Roberts that by definition, Hawaii isn’t “exotic,” which literally means “foreign.” It is a state. Myrtle Beach, on the other hand, is in South Carolina, which still hasn’t decided whether it wants to be in the Union. Oh, and Barack Obama grew up in Hawaii, making that a trip home.

I’m all in favor of the first couple taking vacations. The White House is its own kind of jail and it’s good for them to get away once in a while.

Leave the Obamas alone, I say.

But the great August story this year was the saga of Steven Slater, the fed-up flight attendant. Faced with an impossibly obnoxious passenger who ignored his instructions on landing and cursed him out, Slater snapped.

He took over the plane’s intercom, redirected a profanity-laden diatribe back at the passenger, then activated the emergency evacuation chute and slid down to the tarmac, after swiping two beers from the beverage cart. He ran to his car and drove home, where he was arrested a short time later.

Who among us, in similar circumstances, hasn’t wanted to do the same thing? It’s the ultimate “take this job and shove it” gesture. (Taking the two beers was an especially nice touch.)

I’ve often marveled at the composure of airline personnel. Airline passengers are a cranky lot, and why not? They’ve missed their flights, slept badly (sitting up, in their clothes), eaten bad food and endured dirty restrooms. They can be rude and hysterical. And yet, almost always, airline clerks and attendants field their complaints with an almost supernatural calm.

I salute them.

But I salute Mr. Slater, too… sort of. He did a dumb thing but he did it with a good deal of style. Every person, once in his or her life, should have the right to say: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”  If for nothing else than for their sanity.

You know times are tough when the feel-good story of the summer is about a flight attendant going berserk.

Donald Kaul has been an award-winning political writer and reporter for longer than some of you have been living. He now syndicates his weekly column through Otherwords.

Categories: Commentary, Politics

0 thoughts on “Donald Kaul: Much ado about non-news stories”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am a news junkie. My politics are libertarian leaning conservative. When I read opinion journalism I look for journalists who are able to critically analyze both sides of the political sprectrum. I believe you fail this test. Their are many conservative columnists who do as well. Lastly, Barack Obama and George Bush are both untalented ideologues who are front men for lifetime political hacks. Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan were talented and brilliant leaders.

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