Politics & Policy

Things I’d Like to Know

What's the greatest thing since cooked mastodon?

Editor’s Note: Please remember to buy coffee filters.

Editor’s Relevant Note: Please feel free to skip today’s column if you’re in that kind of mood. But skip the announcements on pain of death. We can do that over the web these days, don’t ya know?

The cliché in Washington is that everyone wants a TV show. In fact, when you start looking around the airwaves you see nothing because air is invisible. But when you do it metaphorically you might notice that television is full of people who once made a living as writers. Chris Matthews, Tony Snow, Mike Barnicle, Tucker Carlson, Brit Hume, Gwen Ifill, John King, et al. all got started as ink-stained wretches of one kind or another. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this; it’s just kind of funny that so many people would work their whole lives in one profession just so they could get a shot at another. Sort of like Alec Baldwin’s stint as a lead-paint taster got him work as a political activist.

To tell the truth, I’d like to have my own TV show too, if for no other reason that I could use the money (a day without honesty is like something else without something else).

Another reason is that I don’t think the current crop of interviewers ask very interesting questions. Oh sure, many of them ask the appropriate questions in a journalistic sense. But, not enough people ask interesting questions. Instead of, “Trent Lott: Do you want more Republicans to defect?” I’d like to see a few more people ask “Trent, tell me the truth, what is going on with your hair?” Or, “C’mon, honestly, if he could get away with it, do you think Phil Gramm would beat the tar out of Jim Jeffords for being an ungrateful little crapweasel?”

You laugh (maybe), but after hearing Lott asked the same questions on twenty different shows, who cares what he’s gonna say when asked for the 21st time?

Or, take Bob Kerrey. Over the last decade the former Nebraska senator must have been interviewed twenty thousand times. He’s been asked about his Vietnam experiences, his view of the party, his plans for the future, Medicare reform, etc, etc. That’s all fine. But come on, if you were driving cross-country with the guy, wouldn’t you want to ask him, “What’s it like missing a leg?”

I really don’t mean any disrespect, but that’s the sort of thing most people want to know. And I don’t mean the sort of personality-worship drek we get from people like Barbara Walters. I hate that stuff, not so much because I hate the questions as I can’t stand her sycophantic responses to the answers.

“If you could say one thing to your poodle Fluff-Ums what would it be?”

Typical guest: “I would tell him, ‘I wuv you very, very much!’”

Walters: “Fascinating. Do you find your incredible emotional depth to be a burden?”

Anyway, if I had my own TV show, I’d look to learn things I wanted to know from politicians, scientists, and philosophers. For example:

I want to know, if the enemy of my enemy is my friend, does that mean the friend of my friend is my enemy?

The phrase, “The greatest thing since sliced bread” has always bothered me. I want to know what we said was the greatest thing before we learned how to slice bread? Did we say, “This is the greatest thing since — I dunno — cooked mastodon?

Everyone says that your chances of getting some terrible illness rises with every night you stay in the hospital. How come the doctors aren’t all dead by now?

When Jesse Jackson said that D.C. statehood was the most important civil-rights issue in America, I’d like to know if anyone asked him if that meant there are no important civil-rights issues left.

I want to know why JFK is the North Star of liberals, in part because his challenge to put a man on the moon proved that government could do anything if properly challenged and funded. But liberals simply assert that “Star Wars” can never work. Wasn’t putting a man on the moon much harder in 1960 than blowing up some missiles in 2001?

I want to know, why would anyone think a “pie in the sky” is a good thing.

I want to know: If the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights — the largest collection of partisan hacks in captivity — were to go on a three-state killing spree, would the New York Times cover “both sides” of the issue?

I’d like to know why sociologists can’t decide whether movie sex and violence has any effect on children, but there’s a universal consensus that even a glimpse of a camel will force children to become lifelong smokers.

Meanwhile, just the other day a kid jumped off a building in the Bronx saying, “I’m Superman!” Since no one has ever said, “I smoke because I want to be like Joe Camel,” I want to know why we shouldn’t ban Superman and sue DC comics for millions.

I want to know whose kid Mitch Albom has handcuffed to the boiler in his basement or whatever else it is he did to get MSNBC to broadcast his radio show.

As I asked the other day, is sex with a hologram adultery?

Here’s something I’ve wanted to know for a long time: If millions of senior citizens are being “forced to choose” between paying for gas or prescription drugs, why haven’t we heard about anyone dying for lack of heart pills with a full tank of gas in their car? And if no one ever chooses a full tank of gas, how is it a hard choice?

If the physicists are right and only 5% of the universe is so-called normal matter, how come I’m always bumping into stuff on my way to the bathroom at night?


1. So, my dog Cosmo had his six-week post-operative check-up today. The boy and I drove out to the vet’s office. We checked in. The nurse took Coz in for his X-rays and I wrote most of this highly researched column. In a little while I met with the doctor. He said, “Mr. Goldberg, I’m sorry but I have some bad news for you. This has never happened before, and frankly we don’t understand it ourselves. I’m afraid your cat is actually a turtle.”

“But I don’t have a cat. I have a dog and he’s not a turtle,” I said.

“Yes, I know. That’s what’s so odd.”

And then I realized I had taken Cosmo’s medication this morning. Once it wore off, I learned that Cosmo is 80% healed and should be all better in time for the cross-country trip I will be taking him on in August to go to my wedding in Washington State. Suggestions on where I should take him are welcome.

2. Now that I’ve kicked the doggie pain-killer habit, I would like to announce that the Goldberg File has a sponsor! As close readers of this column know, I am a fan of the brown liquors. Well, now one of the finest in the world has decided to go slumming by sponsoring this page. Glenlivet, teardrops of the Gods, nectar of the Earth, serum for what ails you, is now my official sponsor. Cosmo finally respects me.

You cannot imagine my relief when I heard they were going to sponsor this column, because I actually like Glenlivet. And while I am certainly for sale, I didn’t need to be in this case (and speaking of cases, hint, hint, Mr. Ad Rep).

So, drop your kids off at the grandparents, get a cab, and go drink responsibly like it’s 1999! We’ve always suspected that alcohol makes you cool, smart, and popular, but with Glenlivet it’s actually true! Bathe with it. Impress your future father-in-law — not just by drinking it, but by using it to light your Laramie cigarettes.

3. Before you leap to the conclusion that today’s column is too self-indulgent, I would just like to point out to you that the cover story of the latest issue of Rosie is about her “ordeal” with a staph infection. Just be glad I don’t have my own magazine. “In This Issue Of Jonah: ‘I ate something I found in my couch and now I don’t feel good.’”

4. I’d also like you to know that British law-enforcement folks don’t have enough to do.

5. And, finally, if you want an actual “serious” column, check out my syndicated column.


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