Tuesday, May 25, 2004

CRAZY ON THE COUCH.I have to say I was taken aback by the ill-concealed rage in Crazy Jesus Lady's latest, an account of E.L. Doctorow's speech at Hofstra and his comeuppance. Normally she speaks of her many enemies in a dismissively gentle tone, as though it were more Satan's fault than theirs that they have been led unto sin and therefore damned. But she calls Doctorow "Fast Eddy," talks ahout his "boorishness,' and claims that Doctorow "manages to produce many books nobody reads in the computer age while still using a quill." (I think she means Doctorow uses the quill, not the non-readers. That's how mad CJL is -- she can't even properly place her modifiers!)

Why such spasmodic rage? One idea is suggested by a gag the New Yorker pulled at Crazy's expense in April. In one of their "Hundred Days" multiple-choice questions about current events, they asked readers to match bits of commentary on Bush with their authors. Four of the five selections were devastatingly negative ("worst President ever") and authored by people like Richard Reeves and Michael Kinsley. One, though, went like this: "A steady hand on the helm in high seas, a knowledge of where we must go and why, a resolve to achieve safe harbor. More and more this presidency is feeling like a gift." And this was the Crazy Jesus Lady's.

CJL has been well-compensated for her speechwriting and is praised in wingnut circles for her columns and books. Insofar as her world extends, this would seem a sufficient Valhalla for a loyal operative. But you can tell by her occasional cracks about "intellectuals, academics, [and] local clever people who talk loudly in restaurants," that Crazy is no less affected than others of her sort by that primitive jealousy stirred by the success of credentialed types who sneer at all that is holy and Republican yet somehow, inexplicably, are allowed by the Lord to enjoy good reviews and tenure. For all her faith that the Lord will one day bring her home, she would yet like to make a stop along the way at Montparnasse, and there be made much of. Alas, the nobs think her a outre Pollyanna, and she must settle for the approbation of think-tank nerds and other Crazy Jesus Ladies and Gentlemen.

How it must sting to be excluded and then mocked for her own exclusion. So the Doctorow booing must have come as a waterfall of balm to her scourged ego. In her ecstasy of vindication, she may have forgotten to behave toward Doctorow as a Christian; but that's why the Lord made confessional booths.

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