[YAKOV] SMIRNOV: Hokay, it looks like we gots everybodies on the telephone.
OAK RIDGE BOYS: Elvira, dohmp dohmp dohmp Elvira…
MR. SMIRNOV: Oak Ridge boys, can you puts the phone on mute? Hey, in Russia, phone mutes you! Henghenghenhgg Hokay, now is time to stop for the jokings. For all yous on the phone I am Yakov Smirnov, and I am comedy artist escape from Russia. Now the President Bush he is making me the deputy outreach coordinator for the Nationals Endowments for the Art. What a country! This is why I make this phones call with all of you today. You are all very very important buddies from the Arts community and the Crafts community and the Vegas Lounge and Branson community. Is my job to lets you buddies know how much Mr. President Bush think you doing important Arts and shows. Is totally awesome!
MR. HANEY’S CHAINSAW: vrrruuppp vruupppa winggadinggg vvvvwiiing wiiiiiiiiing
MR. SMIRNOV: Mr. Haney, you put chainsaw on mutes, hokay? Now like Yakov say, Mr. President he is like many things you do with the lawn ornaments and needlepoints and like thats. But he knows is tough out theres for the Arts people and sometimes yous have to do two buffet shows every day to make the ends meet. So he say, hey! How abouts that Nationals Art Endowments? It gots plenty money for my buddies. So he say, Yakov get my buddies together and talks about how they can go do the Art things for service to me. Oops, I mean America!
MS. CZARNOSKI: Speaking as an artist, I would first like to say, what’s my cut?
MR. SMIRNOV: Is very good question. Is very much sliding scale depending how much service yous do for Mr. Bush. I mean America community. Mister Bush he sees many places where is good for Art. Here is to explain Mr. good buddy vice president Dick Cheney.
The second thing that strikes one about this transcript is the aura of menace that floats just behind the talk of passion, pushing the president’s agenda, connecting with “labor unions, progressive groups,” etc., etc. As Yosi Sergant’s pep talk suggests, these people regard legal obstacles not as boundaries to be observed but as impediments to be overcome by “tactics,” a word that frequently appears in the transcript.
There is a German word for what we are witnessing at the NEA and elsewhere in the Obama administration’s effort to push its agenda. It is Gleichschaltung. It means two things: first, bringing all aspects of life into conformity with a given political line. And second, as a prerequisite for realizing that goal, the obliteration or at least marginalization of all opposition.
The Gleichschaltung watch? Some of us were manning that pretty early on.