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Monday, September 06, 2004

In Lake Webegon, 9/11 was just "an event, a lapse of security"

There is much I could write about Garrison Keillor's op-ed, "We’re Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore."  Throughout, it's typically lyrical (if you like your vicious insults expressed lyrically, with a nice rhythm and cadence to go with the rabid foam), and typically half-baked.  But there's one paragraph that perfectly illustrates whether Mr. Keillor is living in the same universe that I perceive, or instead in one of his own fertile imagining:

There is a stink drifting through this election year. It isn’t the Florida recount or the Supreme Court decision. No, it’s 9/11 that we keep coming back to. It wasn’t the "end of innocence," or a turning point in our history, or a cosmic occurrence, it was an event, a lapse of security. And patriotism shouldn’t prevent people from asking hard questions of the man who was purportedly in charge of national security at the time.

A "lapse of security" was when the National Archives folks let Sandy Berger out with classified documents in his socks, Mr. Keillor.  An "event" was when protesters at the RNC stripped naked in the streets for the amusement of the crowd.  You will never experience, Mr. Keillor, an "end of innocence," because in your innocent, well-educated, creative, but very childlike mind, you think the President of the United States is your enemy, and that you have no others except for him and those who support him.

You're living in a war, sir, and you wouldn't recognize a "turning point in history" because that would require that you have at least a passing acquaintance with reality.  The title of your op-ed notwithstanding, sir, you really are still living in Lake Woebegon — where all the children are above average, and the laws of mathematics, physics, and human nature hold no sway.

Posted by Beldar at 12:22 AM in Global War on Terror, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to In Lake Webegon, 9/11 was just "an event, a lapse of security" and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) Stephen M. St. Onge made the following comment | Sep 6, 2004 12:50:20 AM | Permalink

    Hey, Beldar, don't get upset.  Obviously, that was satire.

    You don't believe me?  Just check the last paragraph.  After eleven paragraphs of set up, he delivers the master punchline:

    "This is a great country, [his emphasis] and it wasn’t made so by angry people [MY emphasis].  We have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better shape than however we found it.  We have a long way to go and we’re not getting any younger."

    Now that's wit for you.  I frankly never imagined he could be so gut-bustingly funny.

    Bravo, Mr. Keillor, for so perfectly imitating an utter ass!

(2) Dan made the following comment | Sep 6, 2004 1:00:39 AM | Permalink

That's absolutely disgusting ... and when I think of how I once enjoyed his radio show. I went to the link, only making it halfway through his garbage before wanting to respond. But there must be three pages of posts, most, from what I could see from drooling liberals hailing his majesty of words...pathetic.

I've no doubt that the hundreds of Russian Mothers burying their children this week will take solace in knowing that that incident, too was just no doubt a "lapse in security" in Keillor's opinion.

Garrison Killer may soon become a more appropriate moniker, as it is people who think precisely as he does that undermine our national security and put everyone at greater risk.

(3) quieti made the following comment | Sep 6, 2004 2:17:00 AM | Permalink

I read the Keillor piece and was so shocked by the paragraph you quoted that I actually read it out loud to my husband.

I find it instructive to read such things because it demonstrates how delusional the Left really is. I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but reading pieces like this one shows me the futility of that. How many more "events" will it take for Keillor to wake up? I think it's hopeless, because each such "event" is viewed through skewed prism of their perceptions, and they simply cannot comprehend what is truly happening.

(4) RMcLeod made the following comment | Sep 6, 2004 4:14:16 AM | Permalink

Keillor and so many of his ilk, are of the past, though they refuse (understandly) to acknowledge it. Victor Davis Hanson wrote about this at least two years ago and said, to paraphrase, that they are like the isolationists of December 8, 1941. New voices and new ideas have already supplanted fools like Keillor.

He's from another era.

(5) Spike made the following comment | Sep 6, 2004 7:26:38 AM | Permalink

Good comments, all. Keillor was on with Bill O'Reilly a month or two ago to plug a book, and what was most striking to me was that he had no idea who O'Reilly was, what FOX News was.....that he said he didn't even have cable. Pretty sure he said he also didn't have or use a computer. So he's a complete naif, getting all his news from the NYT and the networks.

(6) Dan S made the following comment | Sep 6, 2004 8:18:17 AM | Permalink


If that piece is Keillor's usual satire, he was way off his usual form. I was involved in some discussion on it with some rather erudite Keillor fans on another blog, most of whom loved the piece (which informs you on their politics). When I called it "diatribe," in the classical sense, they agreed. It has similarity to satire, it uses hyperbole extensively, and there are even some parts that may be satire, but overall it is not. It does not aim to convince anyone, as does satire. It aims to inspire the choir.

Satire is argument by hyperbole and other verbal tricks to poke fun at the opponents' point of view to encourage them to re-examine their opinions. Diatribe is a beat-down for the sake of beating the opponent.

One aims to be productive; the other aims to destroy the opponent. Satire retains the basic premise is that the opponent can change. When the diatribes start it's because the speaker has decided the opponent cannot change and must be eliminated. (Cicero on Cateline, or Demosthenes on Philip)

Keillor often does seem to have a productive aim to his writing and radio programs. He's a truly great writer and performer. But in this piece his bitterness overwhelmes his sense of proportion.

What was amazing to me is that a least one person in the group that loved this Keillor piece found the Zell Miller speech dangerous. Well, I guess truth is more dangerous than fiction...

(7) dstraws made the following comment | Sep 6, 2004 2:17:52 PM | Permalink

You can call it a war if you wish, but it ain't no war. War involves sacrifice, not only of the combatants but also of their people. What have you sacrificed! Nothing-- The progress we've made against terrorism, other than attacking the bases in Afghanistan, has been due to intelligence and police work which proves the "War on Terrorism" is a lie.

(8) RMcLeod made the following comment | Sep 6, 2004 2:35:30 PM | Permalink

War involves sacrifice, not only of the combatants but also of their people. What have you sacrificed! Nothing...

Well, let's see, how about 3,000 people?

Just what would be "sacrifice" to you dstraws? Metal rationing? Victory gardens? Kids killed in a school?

See, you're expressing what Kedwards leftist supporters really believe, but can never say openly: you don't believe we're IN a war. That's it's all a Bushitler lie.

This is why the Democrats are doomed. They're confused, split, and demoralized. If Kedwards says we're not in a war, they lose the election. So they contort themselves, and their party, into pretend "warriors".

Unfortunately for you, most of the country, the sane part, knows we're in a real war. One that we're winning.

(9) Stephen M. St. Onge made the following comment | Sep 6, 2004 6:27:25 PM | Permalink

Dan S.:
    *SIGH* I was mocking Keillor, pretending to think he didn't mean it, by pointing out the contradiction between his vitriol and the sentiment that the country is made better by people who aren't angry.  Since he is, by his own standard, utterly ineffectual, I thought I'd indulge in the pleasure of kicking him while he was down.  Clear now?

    What have we sacrificied?  Part of our future income, by running up a debt to fight this war; a great deal of convenience in travel, to prevent the murderers from hijacking another airline; and some of our civil liberties.

    The Global War on Terrorists will be more like the Cold War than WWI or WWII.  It will probably outlast our lifetimes.  The Cold War, after all, is only what we called the latter part of a conflict between the West and the former Soviet Union (OOH! I just LOVE to type "former Soviet Union!").  That war lasted seventy-one years.  We won it when the Bolsheviks lost faith in their own utopian vision.  We'll have to continue this one till the Islamofacists lose faith in their vision.

    And no, I don't like that prospect.

(10) Brad made the following comment | Sep 6, 2004 7:26:22 PM | Permalink

Yepper, that's Pearl Harbor all right, just another "lapse in security"!

(11) Jumbo made the following comment | Sep 6, 2004 9:26:42 PM | Permalink

I began listening to Garrison Keillor in 1982. About 1996 or so I noticed the little extra bite he put into his GOP jokes. So I began listening to him just until his first Republcians-hate-the-poor-but-claim-to-love-God
kind of condescending faux-cracker-barrel jab, and then I'd turn him off for the night. He got increasingly bitter and unfunny, and I began turning him off earlier and earlier. I quit listening to him altogether about 3 years ago.

I have missed nothing except some self-righteous patronizing partisan crap primarily paid for by taxpayers. I do not like paying to be insulted for my politics. About the same time I got sick of Keillor, I stopped contributing to my local NPR station. And when NPR canned Bob Edwards, that was it; I even quit listening to the Radio al Qaeda propaganda briefings. There, I feel much better.

(12) Ed Jordan made the following comment | Sep 6, 2004 10:37:28 PM | Permalink


I like your point that Keilor's own anger contradicts his thesis. But even without that self-contradiction, Keilor's contention that This is a great country, and it wasn’t made so by angry people is obviously untrue. Anger over taxation without representation, anger over secession and slavery, anger over Pearl Harbor: does he believe nothing great was accomplished because of these angers?

(13) Eric Pobirs made the following comment | Sep 7, 2004 1:05:19 AM | Permalink

Does Keillor realize that if 9/11 was merely a 'lapse of security' then things are even worse in terms of the terrorism threat? He is suggesting that this could happen again any time we let our guard down rather than being the result of many years effort by a small army of participants both direct and indirect. Does he really understand what he is saying?

(14) Jumbo made the following comment | Sep 8, 2004 11:11:42 AM | Permalink

"Does (Keillor) really understand what he is saying (about security lapse)?"

Sure. Because if it's nothing more than a "security lapse", it means that normal, in-place security methods would have wholly prevented it. Thus, it's Bush's fault, get it?

(15) Jumbo made the following comment | Sep 8, 2004 11:16:46 AM | Permalink

And while I'm at it, if a performer insists on inflicting his political views on us each time he performs, under what duty are we to be members of his audience if he continually, intentionally offends us? I've loved the idea of Lake Wobegone for over 20 years, but the ideological tax for hearing about it has grown too heavy.

Why do conservatives listen to him? why do conservatives support National Public Media (over and above what we are unwillingly dunned through federal taxes)?

(16) Karen made the following comment | Sep 8, 2004 8:20:43 PM | Permalink

Keillor may be right about one thing: there may not be as many Eisenhower Republicans as there once were. I think a lot of them are now pretty close to being John F. Kennedy liberals - you know: like when he faced down the terrifying nuclear threat by the Russians, said "Ich bin Berliner", cut taxes for the rich, etc.

And it struck me that not many of Keillor's vociferous supporters in the comments section sounded like the Eisenhower Republicans Keillor admired. Nor did Keillor sound much like an Eisenhower Republican.

Peggy Noonan wrote a great piece in the WSJ a while ago on Eisenhower's meeting with Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs disaster, and his public expression of confidence in Kennedy. I cannot imagine Keillor approving of similar behavior by a leader of the democratic party today in a time of peril.

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