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“We’re movin’ you out,” said Pinch Sulzberger to me at the Times shindig in moi’s honor. As you all know, a collection of my most provocative essays, Bushworld, is streaking up the charts faster than one of the Boy Emperor’s non-working Star Wars rayguns. “We’re moving on up,” I corrected him. Being a nationally acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize-winning pop-culture maven, at least I know the difference between a Billy Joel song and the theme tune to television’s hit drama, The Jeffersons. Unlike, let me add, Little Nicky Kristof, Mr. Smarty-Pants about XXXXXX Korea [Copy editor–plse CHK], a place way off 43’s global Stratego board.
”No, we are moving you out, out of the office” he carefully enunciated, like Rummius Maximus Pompeius during one of his sinister Pentagon lie-o-thons to save the Xanax Cowboy. “The other columnists are complaining about your relentless inability to break any stories, the one-sentence paragraphs, the use of paradoxical statements to partake in apparently witty wordplay, the pop psychodrama masquerading as insight …”
“Whaddup dawg?,” I broke in, playing Judy to his Pinch, “Stop getting all Crockett and Tubbs on me. Do you not understand my famously sharp one-liners and brisk apercus, or my classical 80s allusions? Who else on that op-ed page appeals to the Times’s hot Youthquake, Gen-X demographic? David Brooks? That guy ripped Bo-Bo from my ghostwriter. Krugman? He can’t tell the difference between an interest rate and a lack of interest. And he has a beard–just like Mullah Ashcroft, the Blue Meanie-in-Chief of King George’s cabal that dragged us into a misbegotten vanity war to impress Poppy Bush, like that time Laverne took Shirley to the state fair and…”
“I’m sorry, Maureen,” Sulzberger Minor interrupted in that inimitably graceful way he’d picked up from James Carville over Cajun Caviar at the Metropolitan Club, “but you’re old hat. You were intermittently amusing during Bill’s time, but now you’re sort of twee and Bill Keller’s getting tired of you phoning in your copy. I think new and exciting opportunities await you in greener pastures not owned by the New York Times Company, its network-affiliate television stations, and our associated media-content outlets. Let’s face it, the times they are a-changing, and I think we all can agree with my pater’s good friend Bob on that score.”
Bob? How could Bob Herbert have gotten involved in the Atwater/Rove conspiracy to Swiftboat me? My mind reeled. In a crazily paradoxical way, this was deeper than Deep Throat, which was so deep it was almost shallow, like a children’s pool with a drowned boy floating face down in two inches of water. Why had Tom Friedman mysteriously disappeared from the page? Was he really away “writing a book,” or had he proposed one too many Middle East peace plans, prompting Prince of Darkness-protégé Werewolfowitz to Hoffa him with a silver bullet? [Copy ed.: Have I got this right? Is it the other way round? M.D.].
This all has to be part of yet another ruthless scheme dreamed up by sleazoid king of hooey Tricky Dick Cheney and his Nixonian Frankenstein monster William Safire. The rest of you in Zombie Nation, when you’re not getting focus-grouped and dial-a-metered by the Kerry campaign, need to awaken from Van Winkledom and smell the coffee, to coin a phrase. Fool me once, Dr. No, shame on you; fool me twice, double shame on you.
Given my faultless instinct for detecting hypocrisy in the polished halls of power, it’s obvious to my gimlet eye that the Strangelovian Sulzberger is the Swiffer of the flextime National Guardsman and his Axis of Slime and that the lovely but strange Gail Collins put him up to it. She’s always been jealous of my success in the liberal Irish woman’s slot on the Times’s op-ed page. I’m a Barbie compared to her Skipper, an Escalade to her Neon, a Sony Walkman to her Miniature iPod. I mean, Passages came out 30 years ago, people! It’s time she MovedOn.org.
No matter what Pinch says, he’ll eventually see sense–unlike the steroid-fueled imperialists coddling the Last Boy Scout–and keep me on. Why, only last week, Howard Kurtz described me as “the Art Buchwald of the New York Times-and just as fresh and funny.” Compliments, indeed!