Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Driving a school bus has been among the most challenging jobs I've ever had. I did it for nearly a decade and the pressure in that job to keep a busload of kids safe is immense. Rules of the road have to be followed, a pattern of drop-offs has to be followed without fail depsite the fact it might change from day to day, and bored kids of all ages need to be managed. I often tell people that it's like teaching a one-room school full of kids at forty miles an hour backwards. If you can do that you are fine.
The job can call for some rough justice from time to time, and some kids don't cotton to it. One student once called me a "Dick" in response to some admonition I delivered to him. I wasn't staggered by the name, I've heard a lot of them, but maintaining discipline meant I had to respond and I wrote the kid up. The Principal said to him (in my presence) that while I might be a "dick" the kid couldn't call me one. I smiled and the kid smiled. It spoke to the moment perfectly, allowed the kid to keep his dignity and solved the issue.
The recent "controversy" over Mark Halperin, a longtime journalist with significant credentials and history, calling the President a "Dick" on The Morning Joe on MSNBC has me nonplussed. Halperin has been suspended indefinitely merely because he used the one-time phrase after asking specifically if there was a seven second delay. His intention was clearly to make the remark off the record, and a technical snafu caused him to deliver the comment over the air. At once, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brezinski had twin attacks of the vapors after both specifically having encouraged Halperin to make the remark. Halperin apologized immediately and I assumed that would be that. When I read that he'd been suspended I was very surprised.
If ever there was a tempest in a teapot this is it. That such a mild slur could cause such uproar speaks not to the truth of the moment, but the goals of those who critique the situation. Rudeness is a commonplace in the world we live in, and maintaining some decorum is necessary. But to get your shorts in a wad over something as meager as this seems stupid.
I'm supporter of the President by and large, though his policies on education and the war in Afghanistan don't sit well with me. But when I voted for him, I knew what both those policies were likely to be. He was quite clear on them during the campaign, and I'm often bemused by pundits today who seem not to remember that. But if President Obama really got so miffed about this comment that he felt suspension was necessary I'm disappointed. I'd hope if he's even heard the remark he merely smiled. Probably it's just MSNBC covering their collective asses on this one, hoping their access to the White House doesn't get diminished.
I heard the President's press conference that prompted the comment and while I agree with almost every point of policy and procedure he identified, his tone was a tad sarcastic and well... "dickish". The Chattering Class seems not to be able to handle these truths. I'd like to remind them all, that just because no one calls you a name, it doesn't mean the name doesn't apply.