Thursday, July 1, 2010

"All In A Day's Work"

It could be going to my head.

Over the last month or so, I’ve sold three commentaries to politicsdaily. I neglected to mention it, because regular readers will have already read those commentaries in my blog, albeit in a slightly altered version. (I rarely get to use the word “albeit.” I feel so literary.)

Politicsdaily has given me my own archive. If you’re interested in slightly altered versions of commentaries you have already read, you can find them at There are only two commentaries there right now. The third one was just accepted yesterday, and will appear I don’t know when, because they don’t tell me.

The woman who runs politicsdaily is Melinda Henneberger. I became aware of Melinda through a book she wrote called If They’d Only Listen To Us. If it hadn’t already been taken, I could easily see myself writing a book with that title, except the last word would be first person singular. For her book, Melinda interviewed regular people who are generally ignored to solicit their opinions on important issues. That’s what I do, except I only interview myself.

I like writing for politicsdaily. Unlike Huffingtonpost, which pays nothing, politicsdaily actually writes me a check. It’s a small one, but hey, I haven’t gotten a check for a long time. That’s not entirely true. I still get residual checks from the TV shows I wrote. I recently received a Cosby Show residual for twelve dollars and fifteen cents. I wonder if Cosby gets more?

The other reason I enjoy writing for politicsdaily, is that when Melinda accepts one of my submissions, she e-mails back, “I love, love, love it!” In all my years in television, no producer or network executive ever responded to my work so enthusiastically. My appreciation of her effusiveness is exceeded only by my respect for her unquestionably sound judgment.

The thing is, in my submissions so far, I’ve been writing about the world’s problems, and I’m concerned I may soon be running out. I’m aware that the world has a lot of problems, but the way I write – as a generalist, which I define as a person who doesn’t know a lot about anything – I focus on the major categories of world problems, and in “major category” terms, there are not all that many.

One commentary I wrote, entitled “What Really Matters”, used the new Arizona immigration law to make the point that when reasonable people do not offer a reasonable solution to a legitimate problem, unreasonable people will jump into the vacuum with a terrible solution.

The Arizona immigration law is one example. My commentary also referenced California’s Proposition 13, where the same thing happened. Of course, in the back of my mind was what happened in Germany in the 1930’s. That one took the cake for “terrible solution.”

So that’s one world problem swept away in 650 or so words. My solution: “Wake up, Reasonable People!” Moving on.

My most recently accepted commentary, called “The Real Culprit” – that’s right, I used a variation of “Real” both times, as if I actually know what’s real – concerns the longstanding proclivity of groups – religious, nationalistic, racial, etc., known to themselves as “Us” – to demonize groups who are unlike them, who the “Us” group labels “Them”, after which the “Us” group does the best they can do with the tools available to them to wipe the “Them” group out.

“World Problem Number Two” taken care of, my solution being: “Don’t do that anymore!”

These examples make it clear that I have set the “subject matter” bar for my commentaries uncomfortably high. I don’t really have a choice. I have to distinguish myself somehow. I’m not a reporter. I can’t be. I’m afraid to call people on the phone. And I’m pretty sure if I somehow mustered the courage to, they would easily wrap me around their little fingers. My weak spot is that I can be easily persuaded. By anyone. Little children fool me on a regular basis.

Other commentators educate themselves – they talk to experts, they do research. Again, that’s not me. It’s hard finding an expert not harboring an underlying agenda. Research is simply experts offering their prejudices in written form.

It’s also possible I’m just lazy, and the above is simply a transparent excuse.

Considering my limitations, what’s left for me is being the “Big Picture Guy”, “Mr. Overview”, perched on a mountain top, above partisan conflict and ideological certainty, dispensing Olympian pronouncements on what the world’s mistakes and how to fix them.

Not only is it all I can do, but that one seems to fit.

So what’s next for the “Superman of Commentators”, strange visitor from another country, fighting for truth, justice and the American Way, if you define “The American Way” by the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

Nothing less than a proposal for ending all wars. *

Which I will tell you about tomorrow.

* To give credit where credit is due, this isn’t my idea. I saw it in a movie. I do, however, take credit for remembering it.
Happy Birthday to Canada. You don't look a day over 142.


Max Clarke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Max Clarke said...


For your political blog, why not write a political sitcom? Lots of limitations, such as length, but most political columns are serious or self-important. Art Buchwald got laughs about politics in 750 words or less.

A couple of decades ago, here in the Bay Area, Cyra McFadden started a novel in her newspaper column that made fun of life in Marin County. Her story, Serial, was picked up and turned into a book, and then into a movie.

Must be something funny you can do with politics. After all, the politicians laugh at us.

And happy Canada Day. When I decided to leave the US Air Force about twenty years ago, they rejected my request to separate on the 4th of July. Guess they didn't enjoy the independence theme.

I then submitted the 1st of July, and the paperwork went through. Since I had lived in Newfoundland as a child, learning "O Canada" before "The Star Spangled Banner," I designated Canada as my substitute nation. Not the same as the 4th, but close enough for my purpose.

Miles said...

Earl - the link should actually be