"We arrived back at the rooming house and were just about to run up the stairs when our attention was drawn to a small gathering in the landlord's front parlor."Media Matters has a run-down on the "vitriolic and irrational" hate machine being heated up by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, and a lot of other bloviators. We've come to expect it of these nuts, unfortunately; but, truly, it defies reason why mainstream media outlets like the Washington Post, ABC News, and CNN also would offer them microphones and ink. The whole jibber-jabbering lot of them are no different from the landlady we had our first year living off-campus.
We had a taken a tiny room in the attic of a frame house about two miles from campus. Five other guys of wide ranging interests and abilities lived on the second floor. One was a pitcher for the university baseball team who went on to have a short, mediocre career in the minors. Another was finishing his Ph.D. dissertation; he would go on to be a college president. The rest were, well, just guys.
That fall semester, John Kennedy was running for president. One sunny afternoon, after a hard day napping in class and playing bridge at the student union, we arrived back at the rooming house and were just about to run up the stairs when our attention was drawn to a small gathering in the landlord's front parlor.
Almost a dozen mostly old people were sitting around the room. They looked rather stiff and formal. To all appearances they were having tea but not enjoying it one bit. They looked unhappy and, well, angry.
Stretched above the parlor entrance was a large linen banner embroidered with the words, "International Anti-Beef Eaters Convention."
Upstairs, all of our fellow roomers had gathered in the room directly above the downstairs parlor. They had been listening in through the heating ducts.
"Man, these people are cra-a-a-zeee-y!" the baseball pitcher said. "They've been talking about how if Kennedy gets elected he'll be sending all of the Fort Knox gold to the Pope in Rome."
"What's with the 'international' thing?" we asked.
The dissertation fellow shrugged. "It sounds like one couple down there is from Canada."
No one was able to figure out what the connection was between "anti-beef eaters" and anti-Catholicism. So, at the first opportunity a day or two later we asked the landlady.
"Beef weakens the mind," she said sternly, "and makes people Democrats."
Certainly, our landlady was no crazier than Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, or, for that matter, Charles Krauthammer. She just didn't have a microphone or a syndicated column. These days, she'd fit right in on the pages of the Washington Post or over the cable signal of Fox News.