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Saturday, May 22, 2010

SCHADENFREUDE

I am grateful to the German language for a word—schadenfreude. It refers to the warm glow that honest people can’t deny feeling when someone they don’t like suffers in some way. It’s nothing to be proud of, this feeling, but it’s definitely there.


--Are you happy to be back in Michigan?
--Very.
--Happy to be teaching again this summer?
--Almost very.
--Anyway, you look pleased with yourself. What are you so jovial about?
--A mental image. I see Ayn Rand’s namesake down in Kentucky.
--Really? Seeing Rand Paul should produce something very different in you. Say, a Tourette moment.
--Oh, I’m sure a Tourette moment can’t be far away, but just now I’m enjoying the mental picture.
--Do you know who Paul looks like to me? Bill Hailey, of Bill Hailey and the Comets. Remember him? Rand Paul has the same hilarious hairstyle.
--I’m trying to avoid ad hominem arguments. You have your Rand Paul, I have mine. I see him wearing one of those headlamp reflector things. Ophthalmologists used to wear them. He’s an eye doctor, you know. I remember an old guy fitting me for glasses when I was a boy. He wore one of those.
--But that’s not all you’re seeing.
--No. Dr. Rand Paul has the reflector thing on so he can provide free eye exams on the campaign trail. As his spiritual guide Ayn Rand teaches us--that font of all intellectual wisdom regarding human nature--there can be no institutional, tax-supported charity. It corrupts society and prevents the best people from realizing their full potential.
--Uh huh. Which you don’t want in an A-plus, quality-type country, right?
--Right as rain, Barbara. That’s exactly what you don’t want. Because, then everything just goes to hell in a hand basket. No Medicaid or Medicare allowed, either. No welfare or unemployment benefits. Only private, freely chosen acts of generosity are acceptable.
--So that’s why Dr. Paul is giving eye exams gratis.
--Exactly. That’s just what Dr. Paul is doing with his reflector, stopping here and there along the campaign trail to examine voters’ eyes. For free. It’s a freely chosen, completely generous act on his part.
--No quid pro quo? No pledge promising to vote for him? Because if there is, Dr. Paul’s not so generous.
--I don’t know about any pledge. In my mind’s eye, I don’t see anyone signing anything. No insurance forms, or co-pay agreements.
--OK then, it’s free.
--But even if they sign a pledge, it’s still a completely legitimate transaction between buyer and seller. No government meddling figures.
--Good, I’m glad. We have enough of that.
--Enough? Barbara, you haven’t been listening to Dr. Rand, or his dad Ron. It’s not that we have enough government. We have way, way too much. The only thing you need government for is to build missile silos in the Dakotas, and run army training camps. Although it’s probably better to outsource the training camps to Blackwater. That would make for more freedom.
--In your mind’s eye, is Dr. Rand wearing a white lab coat so everyone knows he’s a healer?
--He is. But there’s a small problem with the coat. It’s too long. Walking and talking as he goes, he’s kicking the hem, telling people along the street about how wrong the Civil Rights Act is. How it prevents employers from flipping the bird at minorities. Which is every employers’ right, or should be. And would be, if Dr. Rand were running things. Which he hopes to do. So he’s in his too-long lab coat, walking and telling folks this crazy Civil Rights thing isn’t something he can really accept, stopping to check another pair of eyes before moving on.
--He trips and falls, screwing up his Bill Hailey haircut.
--No, but Dr. Paul does keep forgetting to watch where he’s stepping. And a nasty thing keeps happening each time he moves on, still talking before reaching the next voter patient.
--I think I know the nasty thing. But I have a question. If Dr. Paul performs eye surgery, doesn’t he have to do it in a hospital? Aren’t hospitals dependent on government money? Don’t some of his patients get Medicare or Medicaid? Or does he insist they all pay him in millet or lamb chops?
-- Not a problem. Just shove the gurney under a freeway underpass, clear out the homeless living there, and start cutting. Oh, and now Dr. Paul is voicing support for British Petroleum’s right to not be controlled or restricted in its efforts to find a cork big enough to stop that thing in the Gulf. Because when you get down to it, it’s not really anyone’s fault, is it? Sometimes plain old nasty accidents just happen. Know what I mean?
--Is a Tourette moment in the works? Let me know, I’ll go do some gardening.
--Not yet, the mental image is still working for me. See, Dr. Rand is still at it, walking, and talking about something else government should never meddle with. Uh oh, there he’s gone and done it again—stepped in another large mound of dog poo. He’s kicking it all over his overlong lab coat, fouling his nice oxfords. Shoes suited to a man in business for himself, like Dr. Paul. And I have to assume he learned medicine on his own, because a man with his principles would never attend a medical school supported by federal and state tax money.
--It couldn’t be easy, home-schooling someone in ophthalmology.
--No, it wasn’t. But how else could his family remain true to their libertarian ideals? And I mean Dr. Rand’s shoes would be right for a doctor, if they weren’t now covered with crap. Those dogs had to be Dalmatians or bigger.
--I thought it was going to be horse dung.
--That would make sense in Kentucky, but it's dogs. And it’s odd. Even with free eye exams, most of the people along the campaign trail still don’t seem to be noticing the crap on Rand’s lab coat. Or his shoes. They’re too busy hanging on his every word.

6 comments:

  1. Once again, we're on the same wave length. I've touch on this in tomorrow's Sunday Recap.

    And Rachel Maddow is a national treasure.

    Good post, my friend.

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  2. I figure Dr. Paul is gonna' have a bit of trouble waffling out his discourse with Rachel.

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  3. You're being pretty unfair to the Hot Dog Buddy who brought us this. Although I see what you mean about the hair.

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  4. Jeese, any heart surgeons wandering around out there looking for votes.......?

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  5. Love it! And so glad to see you back in the blog-o-net. I've been working on a piece on the Pauls, but it comes out so frickin' serious, sincere, self-referencing, narcissistic, uncompromising, simplisitic, rigid, racist...them, not the piece. Anyway, this is much better. Can I just re-post it?

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  6. Jayne--
    I read it and liked it. I hope more people will hold Rand's--for lack of a better word--principles up for scrutiny. It's amazing how many people who started life elsewhere come to the States convinced they know what's best for us.

    Jerry--
    Congressman Paul is affable, even likable. Which I suppose is largely why so many people in your fair state and elsewhere fall under the spell of his unworkable "ideas."

    K-
    You're right, Bill Hailey should never be defamed by being linked by hair style to a lesser being. I just wasn't thinking.

    Between you and me--
    There does seem to be a sudden influx of medical doctors entering politics. Having successfully installed stents, or lasered away cataracts, they must see themselves as ready to heal the country. I think Bill Frist is responsible. Do you remember him, the Tennessee Republican who served for several years as the majority leader in the Senate? Born into wealth, he went on to become a doctor, and do you know what old Bill liked to do back then? He liked to adopt dogs from rescue shelters, then take them back to his lab and conduct medical experiments on them, in the name of healing, of course.

    Nance--
    I will comment on your site regarding your thoughtful historical treatment of the origins of the Rands' "ideas."

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