On Fleet Street, summer is often referred to as “The Silly Season“. Real news is slow, but since the newspage is a vacuum that demands to be filled with something, plenty of ridiculous, hyped-up–silly–news stories take their place.
Earlier today, Glenn Reynolds linked to a piece by National Review’s John Derbyshire on a sensitivity training program required by FEMA before firemen and paramedics could be sent to New Orleans and Mississippi to actually do the work they’re trained to do. Shortly after his post went up, Glenn looked back and updated his post with, “Derbyshire’s curriculum is satire. Sadly, I had to read it twice to be sure.”
As with Hurricane Katrina, the real story driving Derbyshire’s mock training program (itself based on real news), the underlying issues behind them are serious. But the response to them by the left and bureaucracies badgered into being responsive to their rococo sensibilities has been so overblown, that they’ve driven vast swatches of the left into self-parody.
It started in early August with Cindy Sheehan. Her initial story was a sincere one: grieving leftwing mother whose son was killed in Iraq after volunteering not only to serve there, but to reenlist for a second tour of duty in the Army. But between the discovery that President Bush had already met with Sheehan a year ago–a meeting she herself said was surprisingly comforting, and then her frequent speeches and posting of incendiary tinfoil rhetoric about her son dying for oil and expanding “American imperialism in the Middle East” and “Israel out of Palestine” on leftwing Websites, her ranting hyperbole simply canceled itself out.
While Hurricane Katrina has rightly pushed Sheehan’s ravings into the background, it unleashed a new round of excess. This one combined (combines? It’s still playing itself out to a great extent) similar hyperbole with a sort of punitive moping by vast swatches of the celebrity and media left. As usual though, their contempt is aimed at America that many on the left already loathe and feel didn’t meet their lofty standards with its response to Katrina’s devastation. Despite the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars in aid has been raised in two weeks time, and thousands of volunteers, National Guardsmen, and other carefully sensitivity trained-relief workers, were quickly mobilized and are on the ground helping. And despite the fact that nothing that could have been done would have caused many who work on Hollywood soundstages or in Manhattan broadcasting booths to say, “Wow, you know what? This is the sort of thing that really makes me feel proud to be American.”
And then add to it a rather unique proposed “memorial” to Flight #93, the gaseous emanations of a Senate that would rather hear itself speak than interview a nominee to the Supreme Court, and yesterday’s latest seemingly annual attempt to derail the Pledge of Allegiance. You have to wonder: Summer is winding down.
But when does the Silly Season end?
Update: In an essay titled, “The Racism Charges Won