May 12, 2005

King of the Combovers Disappointed in Katrina Death Toll

Wolcott:"Bring out your dead! "

THE DIM DEVOTEES OF James Wolcott gnawed today on a fresh chunk of gristle from their master of disaster as he drove onto his website in his Blue 1968 Huff. After several days of quoting from others, Wolcott squeezed off one of his own -- if a bit early. In doing so he established once again that it's safer to point than to pontificate.

The hurricane-worshipping Wolcott is clearly disappointed that his hopes for a floating abattoir in New Orleans are not likely to fructify. In the self-referentially titled From Blame Game to Numbers Game, Wolcott bemoans the fact that we are not, after all, going to see deaths from Katrina on or above the levels of 911. Why? Because if we had, Wolcott surmises, we would be shaken from the deadly spell that the RoveBushCheney wizards have had us under for four years.

"Casualty figures are often high-ranged at the outset, dropping as the smoke and water clears. But any number substantially higher than 3,000 dead presents a political and symbolic dilemma for the most avid advocates of the War on Terror (or World War IV, if you're a Norman Podhoretz devotee)."

Stepping quickly around Wolcott's Stop-Me-Before-I-Reference-Again slight against Norman Podhoretz's correct estimate of the situation, its clear that Wolcott's Upper West Side dinner parties are going to be in deep mourning for the thousands of Americans that didn't die in New Orleans.

"If only," they will say, "some of those poor, black people could have taken one for the team and cast themselves into the sewage for

us, the ones who care, and care deeply, about them. After all, isn't it better that a few thousand drown now than that George Bush float on for three more years as President?"

Now, you are not to suppose, even for a moment, that the Wolcotts of the Upper West side are cold and inhuman. Wolcott, a very clubable man, is at some strain to dissuade you:

"It may seem cold and inhuman to apply a political calculus to casualty figures. Every death is an individual tragedy with a radius sorrow extending to friends, family, and coworkers--no one's life should be reduced to a digit. But it foolhardy to ignore how the death toll (high or low) will be spun by conservatives, who have already begun twirling their tops."

Ah yes, whip out the crying towel and wrap yourself in the shroud of John Donne. Cue the Stones moaning "We love you..." on Satanic Majesties. Then take the digit your life has been reduced to and point, not at your own disappointment in a low death toll, but at the twirling tops of conservatives. Then its on with his joyful application of "a political calculus to casualty figures" and his need for at least 3,000 corpses to bob up in Katrina's wake. That, according, to Wolcott would be the magic number.

It will never, of course, dawn on the likes of the Wolcotts of the Upper West Side that there is a fundamental difference between a terrorist attack on a nation and a natural disaster. Recognizing such a distinction ruins all their arguments. In their besotted imaginations, terrorism and natural disasters are the same thing. It's a premise they have to cling to like barnacles to the underside of a decaying whale. A hurricane wandering across a city or a plane driven with murderous intent into a skyscraper are the one to these people. The former can't help it. The latter can't help it either. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, terrorists gotta blow you up.

Both cases are just variations on the infinite Brownian motion of life to the world's Wolcotts. Why? Because, depending on who they work for, their current paychecks and their withered social life depend upon tap dancing to the liberal drumbeat. If Victor Hanson ran Vanity Fair instead of Graydon Carter, it would cause hacks like Wolcott to alter their opinions if not their kneepads. Ever so subtly at first, but with increasing velocity as the days faded by. Wolcott and his ilk learn early to run with the pack or be eaten by it. In time, they actually believe the propaganda they spout is true. And why shouldn't they? Nobody forces them to eat it. They sit down and spoon it in themselves, in the company of the very best people too. It's all their rich substance and sustenance. No slurping please.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 12, 2005 2:41 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

The King of the Comb-Overs is this guy.

Posted by: Steve M. at September 12, 2005 7:25 PM

Not in my universe. Besides, "this guy" is going to be President.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at September 12, 2005 7:30 PM

"Every death is an individual tragedy with a radius sorrow extending to friends, family, and coworkers--no one's life should be reduced to a digit. But"

Just as apologies should not contain the word "if", acknowledgements of human tragedy should not contain the word "but".

Posted by: Harvey at September 12, 2005 8:06 PM

Oh geez, he's fat too! What a dweeb.

Posted by: Eric Blair at September 13, 2005 5:16 AM

His face tells you all you need to know. His eyes stare hate and his expression loudly sneers, "I am superior to you."

Though the effect is somewhat muted by the mouth, which suggests nothing so much as he is less likely to "be eaten by [the pack]" than to eat it.

Posted by: Levans at September 13, 2005 7:53 AM

By Wolcott's logic of body-count outrage, if a public-spirited citizen were to shotgun him on his doorstep just as a falling tree killed two Mormon missionaries down the street, his survivors would have no warrant to wax indignant about his murder because a larger number of people had just died by other causes. With such puissant dialectic, I can only assume that he moonlights as an issues analyst for Howard Dean.

Posted by: Axel Kassel at September 13, 2005 10:16 AM

He is a venomous, two-bit literary hatchet man. Nothing more. Anyone could do what he does, given enough time to sit in front of the computer, thinking up gratuitous insults.

Posted by: The Colossus at September 13, 2005 12:26 PM

"a fundamental difference between a terrorist attack on a nation and a natural disaster."

Add to the end of that "the likelihood of which was virtually ignored for decades by both sides."

Posted by: Nate Whilk at March 14, 2011 1:18 PM

What do you suppose his opinion of hurricanes is now?

Posted by: Eric Blair at October 30, 2012 6:23 PM