Roy Exum: ‘Go For The Deuce!’

Monday, June 11, 2018 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I have been in a state of mourning since Charles Krauthammer, perhaps the best columnist of our lifetime, announced on Friday that he had but a few weeks to live. Millions of us have waited patiently for the last 10 months for his return in our lives and, as one whose life has been that of “a newspaper man,” I feel like I’m losing a distant yet beloved cousin.

I remember the very first time I met him and I was literally shocked by the sight of him. Many years later I was with friends when he appeared on TV and I commented on how much I admired him. A girl on my right said, “He always looks so stiff to me,” and I said as kindly as I could, “I had no idea he was paralyzed, either, until I met him … he has to wear braces to sit up.” My poor friend looked like she had swallowed an onion – her eyes watered that badly.

When he announced his fate on Friday, he did it with such grace. “It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended,” he wrote in a public letter.

Are you kidding me! During Krauthammer’s first year at Harvard Medical School, a diving accident left him paralyzed so – what! – he gets an MD degree as a psychiatrist. As he climbed life’s ladder, he published several medical papers and found he loved to write. And write he did. At the time he stopped writing in August of last year because of cancer, he was regularly read in over 400 newspapers in the world and he was Fox News’ greatest star. He used his paralysis like an Olympic pole vaulter. What a world champion!

Over the weekend I went to my hiding place, where among my other personal treasures is, in my opinion, the greatest column Mr. Krauthammer ever wrote but I am getting ahead of myself. On Sunday in my ‘Morning Readings’ I had an eye out for anything I could find about him when a horrible story appeared: “Krauthammer is Dying with Dignity While Liberals are Living With None.”

Derek Hunter on the website “Town Hall” tells us (in an abbreviated form):

* * *

Some people die with bravery, grace, and dignity while others live with none of those attributes.

This truth was on full display Friday when Washington Post columnist and Fox News star Charles Krauthammer announced to the world what I’d heard in whispers for a couple of weeks – he was dying, he only has a few weeks left to live. The outpouring of love and admiration that followed was, no doubt, comforting for him and his family in this awful time.

But, as has become all too common in the social media age, some liberals couldn’t let a day, or even an hour pass with them simply acting like normal, decent human beings, or at least confining their vile nature to their heads and small circle of troll-like friends. Not one hour.

Liberal writer Barrett Brown took the opportunity to plug an anti-Krauthammer piece he’d written in Vanity Fair back in 2009, because he thought the world needed to know. On Twitter he added, “Here’s a summary I wrote for Vanity Fair of Krauthammer’s ongoing failure, from 1998 on, to get a single thing right about the subject on which he was inexplicably deemed an “expert”. His impending death will make the world a safer, more competent place.”

Brown then went on a justification spree, with each excuse more pathetic than the last. People confident in their actions aren’t compelled to explain them to strangers pointing out how inhuman they were.

Not to be outdone, human dumpster fire Oliver Willis, who writes for something called Share Blue (which reads like the modern English language version of Der Stürmer), went on a tweet storm, complaining, “death doesnt (sic) make a very bad guy a good guy.”

* * *

That’s when I hauled out the column Mr. Krauthammer wrote on July 2, 2004 because the only fitting reply that vermin like Brown and Willis deserve is a gusty round of “The Deuce.”

Please, it isn’t my intention to offend any single person but in late June of 2004, the Vice President of the United States at the time was hard-fisted Dick Cheney and one day he got so mad he exploded with the F-word. Charles Krauthammer, a former psychiatrist – mind you – who would become such a prolific writer, the Pulitzer Prize winner influenced every politician in Washington, then wrote the most wonderful story that I have coveted ever since.

* * *

IN DEFENSE OF THE F-WORD

By Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, Friday, July 2, 2004; Page A15

I am sure there is a special place in heaven reserved for those who have never used the F-word. I will never get near that place. Nor, apparently, will Dick Cheney.

Washington is abuzz with the latest political contretemps. Cheney, taking offense at Sen. Pat Leahy's imputation of improper vice presidential conduct regarding Halliburton contracts in Iraq, let the senator know as much during a picture-taking ceremony on the floor of the Senate. The F-word was used. Washington is scandalized.

The newspapers were full of it. Lamentations were heard about the decline of civility. The Post gave special gravitas to the occasion, spelling out the full four letters (something that it had done only three times previously). Democrats, feeling darned outraged, demanded apologies. The vice president remained defiant, offering but the coyest concession -- that he "probably" cursed -- coupled with satisfaction: "I expressed myself rather forcefully, felt better after I had done it."

The Federal Communications Commission just last year decreed that the F-word could be used as an adjective, but not as a verb. Alas, this Solomonic verdict, fodder for a dozen PhD dissertations, was recently overturned. It would not get Cheney off the hook anyway. By all accounts, he deployed the pungent verb form, in effect a suggestion as to how the good senator from Vermont might amuse himself.

Flood-the-zone coverage by investigative reporters has not, however, quite resolved the issue of which of the two preferred forms passed Cheney's lips: the priceless two-worder -- "[verb] you" -- or the more expansive three-worder, a directive that begins with "go."

Though I myself am partial to the longer version, I admit that each formulation has its virtues. The deuce is the preferred usage when time is short and concision is of the essence. Enjoying the benefits of economy, it is especially useful in emergencies. This is why it is a favorite of major league managers going nose to nose with umpires. They know that they have only a few seconds before getting tossed out of the game, and as a result, television viewers have for years delighted in the moment the two-worder is hurled, right on camera. No need for sound. ‘The deuce’ was made for lip reading.

Which makes it excellent for drive-by information conveyance. When some jerk tailgater rides my bumper in heavy traffic, honking his horn before passing and cutting me off, I do a turn-to-the-left, eyeball-to-eyeball, through-the-driver's-window two-worder -- mouthed slowly and with exaggerated lip movements. No interlocutor has yet missed my meaning.

Nonetheless, while the two-worder has the directness of the dagger, the three-worder has the elegance of the wide-arced saber slice. It is more musical and, being more clearly spelled out, more comprehensible to the non-English speaker (a boon in major urban areas). It consists of a straightforward directive containing both a subject and an object -- charmingly, the same person.

According to The Post, the local authority on such matters, Cheney went for a variant of the short form, employing the more formal "yourself." And given the location, the floor of the Senate, it seems a reasonable choice: Time was short, and he undoubtedly reserves the right to revise and extend his remarks.

Ah, but the earnest chin-pullers are not amused. Cheney's demonstration of earthy authenticity in a chamber in which authenticity of any kind is to be valued has occasioned anguished meditations on the loss of civility in American politics. Liberals in particular have expressed deep concern about this breach of decorum.

Odd. The day before first reports of Cheney's alleged indiscretion, his Democratic predecessor, Al Gore, delivered a public speech in which he spoke of the administration's establishing a "Bush gulag" around the world and using "digital brown shirts" to intimidate the media. The former vice president of the United States compared the current president to both Hitler and Stalin in the same speech -- a first not just in hyperbole but in calumny -- and nary a complaint is heard about a breach of civility.

If you suspect that this selective indignation may be partisan, you guessed right. But here's an even more important question. In the face of Gore's real breach of civil political discourse, which of the following is the right corrective: (a) offer a reasoned refutation of the charge that George Bush is both Stalinist and Hitlerian; (b) suggest an increase in Gore's medication; or (c) do a Cheney.

The correct answer is "C." And given the circumstances, go for the deuce.

* * *

My thoughts exactly.

royexum@aol.com



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