Reader Mail

Here’s Johnny

Was NBC's golf guy off course? Arrogance in rainy Unity. The androgyne's candidate. Plus more.

7.1.08

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OFF COURSE
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Another Imus Outbreak:

I am unable to decide if this article is based on subtle satire or the possibility that you have jumped the shark.
-- Tom McDonald
Huron, Ohio

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. obviously does not watch much golf or at least does not watch much golf where Johnny Miller is an analyst. If he did it should be obvious to him as it was to me and probably 99.9% of other people of even mediocre intelligence that Johnny Miller has honest dear affection for Rocco Mediate. He was constant in his praise for him and his play during the U.S. Open and was especially excited for the great positive effect winning the Open might have on a guy like Rocco as opposed to Tiger who would simply add another notch to his belt.

Johnny Miller is consistent in his praise, and frank assessments when players seem to choke or hit bad shots, regardless of who the player is. But it has always been my impression that he holds a special regard for the hard-working, lesser-known players who sometimes rise to the occasion to challenge a golf demi-god like Tiger Woods or to challenge a momentous test like the U.S. Open. I would be absolutely dumb-founded if Rocco really was offended because he knows Johnny Miller better than that; and his reply bears that out. In this case, Mr. Tyrrell is the one who is sticking his foot in his mouth because he is talking about something he really doesn't know enough about. Johnny Miller's comments were all about Rocco the common man (at least as far as golf professionals go) and were nothing about Rocco the Italian-American.
-- Robert Madsen
Orem, Utah

I've been one of your biggest fans for about the past 30 years. When I came cross a copy of AmSpec during the Carter malaise, it changed my life. My exposure to the economic ideas being championed by the early supply-siders came first through AmSpec, and I went on to become a supply-side economist myself. I worked for Jude Wanniski for seven years during the '90s. I really owe a good part of my success to the ideas and perspectives I first picked up on in your outstanding magazine.

But I was really taken aback by your take on the Johnny Miller/Rocco Mediate affair. At first I thought it must be tongue in cheek and there'd be a punch line putting it all back in proper order. If you thought Imus was unfairly persecuted for what was a much more offensive slur, how could you believe that Miller deserves the same treatment? I was watching that broadcast, and the ethnic element didn't even occur to me. I thought he just meant that Rocco seemed like a regular guy who could be cleaning your pool or doing any other kind of ordinary labor, as opposed to the country club types who populate the tour. That was his appeal and that's what Miller was picking up on. It's really astonishing to me, but you seem to be taking the politically correct position on this that you would normally castigate others for mercilessly. Miller doesn't deserve that, and I can only imagine that many of your faithful readers today must be scratching their heads trying to figure out what in the world compelled you to write such a silly piece.
-- David Gitlitz

I read with interest your article on Johnny Miller's comments during the recent U.S. Open Golf Tournament on NBC. I couldn't disagree more with the conclusions you reached both on a micro and a macro level.

First, regarding the specific comments made by Miller about Mediate, Miller was praising Mediate not demeaning him. You may disagree with the way he worded his praise but the point Miller was trying to make I believe was that Mediate was not the prototypical, affluent country club golfer with the perfect swing honed from years of private lessons and videotape. He was trying to depict Rocco as the "everyman" golfer who did it his way and was surprising everyone in the Open by making it work. Miller's words may have been indelicate (see his comments about Craig Parry's golf swing or Justin Leonard's performance in the 1999 Ryder Cup before making his historic putt or his comments about Phil Mickelson's meltdown at Winged Foot for some history and context), but they hardly constitute being labeled a "slur."

On the macro level you state, "Yet this touchiness about slurs is not going to go away -- and in many cases should not. Often the slur betrays a deep contempt for others merely because of their race, ethnicity, or gender. Contempt is not a civilized value."

Who gets to determine whether a slur has been committed? Rocco wasn't upset by Miller's comments so it must be YOU or the Italian-American group that's raising holy heck who gets to make the call.

So, first you get to determine it's a slur and then you get to determine that it shows "a deep contempt for others merely because of their race, ethnicity, or gender." Miller says he didn't mean it that way. Rocco says "Okay." You say, "Too bad, suspend him." Or something.

Mr. Tyrrell, you have made a tremendous contribution to the conservative movement over the years and for that contribution I am grateful. It is a mistake, however, to attempt to fight the "speech police" by pointing out how groups other than the usual, blacks, Hispanics, women etc. are also being slurred, expanding the definition of a slur, and taking it upon yourself to determine what speech is acceptable and what is not.

I have managed to get through my 60 years of life without once being "offended." This fact has undoubtedly made me a happier person. I firmly believe that if people spent less time looking for reasons to be offended they'd be happier, too. Being "offended" is a condition suffered by liberals. Not us.

Thank you for all you do.
-- Mike Torrence
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Mr. Tyrrell, you know that any slur against a white guy is supposed to be laughed off. If Johnny Miller had made those same comments about Tiger Woods, he would have been gone from NBC and never heard from again. I do remember hearing Johnny refer to Tiger as a hometown "boy" once and he corrected himself so quickly he almost bit his tongue off. Come on now. We all know the rules. If you are Charles Barkley you can say you hate white people and suffer no penalty, but it doesn't work the other way around. I think Mr. Tyrrell was just being his facetious self.
-- Barbara Anderson
Cincinnati, Ohio

R. Emmett Tyrrell's column about Don Imus and Johnny Miller included some sloppiness about the meaning of the First Amendment. Tyrrell suggested that "As an ardent defender of the First Amendment I opposed Imus's extinction." Of course, the First Amendment only refers to government actions. If Imus was terminated by his employer because his sponsors were afraid that he would alienate too large a segment of the listening audience, too bad for Imus, but it is not a First Amendment issue. The First Amendment does not protect anyone from offending their employer, nor should it.
-- John A. Penkrot

I don't think Mr. Miller's problem is with ethnicity, but he does have a problem that at time causes one to cringe. I remember a year or so ago he said that golfer Rod Pampling (paraphrasing since I don't have the exact quote) "looks like the guy who show up to paint your house or garage door" or something along those lines. What to read into a comment like that? I don't know, but it was senseless and certainly added nothing to the commentary.

Miller also frequently makes references to how much money Tiger Woods has (how rich he is), which I find in rather poor taste.

I don't what Miller's issue is, but it doesn't reflect well on him.
-- Diane Shomper
Wilmington, Delaware

The Constitution guarantees the right to say almost anything. Etiquette demands that we don't abuse this right.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

Great article. Well said.
-- John Marino
Director of Government Relations & Public Policy
National Italian American Foundation (NIAF)
Washington, D.C.

RAINY UNITY
Re: Andrew Cline's Used in Unity:

More than failing to note the stage-managed nature of the non-event, I'm annoyed (but not surprised) that nothing I've read so pointed out the timing of Clinton's endorsement -- less than a week after Obama called together his leading donors/bundlers and asked them to raise money to help retire his former opponent's campaign debt. He flat-out bought her support and, with the stunning hubris that has become a hallmark of his campaign, did not even make the pretense of disassociating the two events.

Of course, his hubris was well-grounded, as no one in the press called him (or her) out on it. The image of the reporters in Unity complacently being herded into a pen and denied access to the people at the event, and not objecting, about says it all.
-- Peter J. Lyden, III
Rumson, New Jersey

According to Obama, words have meaning. And so do symbols -- Unity New Hampshire. Got it! So words, names included, are important, but to paraphrase Mr. Cline, "They [the people] were nothing more than props, hauled in and out of this tiny town to serve as a backdrop for the media event..." For the Democrats, when have the people ever been more than props and a means to an end for power?
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

WHERE HAVE ALL THE COWBOYS GONE?
Re: Windsor Mann's Woman Up:

The serious public question raised by Mann's musings is what type of man will America's voters embrace in the upcoming election? I fear that the current culture may favor a candidate whose non-threatening form of maleness reflects a national personality that no longer values strength, decisiveness and patriotism.

Obama is a perfect storm of liberalism, pacifism, racial guilt, feminism and charisma. He is mysterious, soothing and messianic to those who would allow government to relieve them of the responsibility of struggling to succeed in a competitive world. Obama represents the Final Solution to the nation's long-standing (but illusory) obsessive mania with a racist past. Aside from his well-modulated baritone, Obama's manner is -- as Windsor Mann pointed out -- decidedly feminine. Not effeminate, but calculated to present no threat to any voter who can be convinced that hard-edged Christian cowboys have had their way for too long. So, why not give The New Man a chance and show the world that we are no longer racists?

The state of maleness in the U.S. is at low ebb. American boys are derided as budding cavemen early on and doped accordingly. They are bombarded with messages that they are all potential sexual predators, unneeded as fathers, husbands and professionals and should just generally behave better -- like the girls do. While women complain that they can't find any real men to share their lives, most fail to draw the connection to their own complicity in that scarcity. We can't raise our boys to think like girls and expect Harry Reid, Barack Obama, Dennis Kucinich or John Kerry to behave like men when they grow up. The concept is simply foreign.

Like his minister's message about chickens coming home to roost, Obama's lack of traditional male traits will be a strength against a war hero who represents The Old Man, unless of course, enough of us recognize that the New Man is a gamble we can't afford to take.
-- Deane Fish
Altamont, New York

I was sent the article called "Woman Up" by Windsor Mann. It is quite good and I am sending it to others. He is a very good writer and I look forward to seeing more of his work.

I am so concerned about the coming election that I am almost sick over the people running for President, but at least the man running on the Republican ticket has good sense -- not who I would have wanted, but a heck of a lot more knowledgeable than Obama or Hillary. At least McCain is a loyal American and will take care of our nation, where as the Democrats will destroy the nation to be the "first" black but no experience to base knowledge on. He should not even be in the Senate as he is most liberal of all times.

Hope to see more articles by Windsor Mann.
-- Sarah R. Browder
Texas

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. McCAIN
Re: Larry Thornberry's Having it Both Ways:

I realize that I am going to arouse the ire of McCainiacs and even some of the anti-Obamaites in your audience, but allow me to quote another popular American military icon with regard to John McCain's polar views on oil acquisition in the US: "Surprise, surprise, surprise."

Mr. Thornberry suggests that Senator McCain's diametrically opposed policies concerning oil drilling is simply campaign rhetoric. If such is the case, then what is his true policy concerning drilling for oil in ANWR and off-shore? And if he is elected, then which McCain will we get? It is a little like voting for Dr. Jekyll.

I know, I know; Senator Obama would be worse. In fact, the only true positive that McCain has is that he is not Barack Obama, whoever he (Obama) really is. Political flip-flopping has become so prevalent in D.C., that there is talk of replacing the American flag atop the Capitol with a wind sock. After all these years, it would be refreshing to have a candidate run as himself, rather than what some Madison Avenue advertising campaign dreamed up. Unfortunately, this election is entirely about Barack Obama. It will be a referendum on him. John McCain is simply the protest vote. Sad, but true. Politics in America has not changed. It is not about truth, honor and leadership. It is simply about winning; at any cost.
-- Michael Tobias

Unfortunately, neither of our presidential choices have energy positions which will do much to address our energy needs now or in the foreseeable future.

Most of our politicians believe the current cost of energy is an inconvenience to the citizenry. They will only begin to appreciate our "problem" when they are as inconvenienced as we are. That won't happen
until they lose their jobs. With a significant turn-over of Congress whoever is elected president will be very focused on the message that has been sent by the American people. We have to provide the leadership.
-- Tim Reed
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

STUCK ON SEPTEMBER 10
Re: Derek Eddy's letter (under "Delahunt in Disgrace") in Reader Mail's Al Qaeda's Spotter:

Derek Eddy said "I'll worry about Al Qaeda when they are walking down the streets of Boston." Some questions come to mind:

Does Mr. Eddy know what a sleeper cell is?

Does Mr. Eddy know what conditions would lead a sleeper cell to become an activated cell?

Does Mr. Eddy know how long it would take an activated cell to execute a pre-planned operation?

Does Mr. Eddy know how he would be informed if a sleeper cell was activated?

If sleeper cells hold press conferences, marvelous. He would be duly warned to "worry." If they announce themselves via the previously mentioned pre-planned operation (i.e. targeting the MBTA) he would have the same opportunity to "worry" as the passengers on United Airlines Flight 175 and American Airlines Flight 11. Both departed from Boston's Logan Airport the morning of September 11, 2001, presumably with passengers who did not "worry" about a terrorist attack that day.

Congratulations Mr. Eddy, you are the proud proprietor of a classic September 10 mentality!
-- Craig A. Zimmerman
Nairobi, Kenya

Here we go again! The Bush-shirts are coming for us. Hide your children! Lock your doors! Oh... wait... can anyone point to a single American citizen who has had their individual rights individually abused by the PATRIOT Act or other actions taken by the Bush administration? Other than that one who was fighting with the Taliban. I'm willing to bet that the only threats of using the Patriot Act against American citizens happened on TV. I don't remember one single news item in the past seven years. Then again, I spent a lot of those years not paying attention, so maybe I missed something.

Don't get me wrong, I think the Patriot Act and the NSA wiretapping were bad plans and poorly executed on top of that. However, I think that we shouldn't scream at Bush for being successful. The only reason we don't fear the terrorists more is because... these actions worked. Maybe we should remember that next time we want to talk about being scared of the Bush Administration. And while I myself wrote a very long response to this publication on the actual threat of terrorism, let's remember one very important thing: We cannot underestimate these people. If they are given the room to plan and prepare, they will succeed. And they will kill Americans (or other Westerners, it's all the same to them) if given the chance. We're the superpower, yes. That doesn't make us inherently invulnerable. Government is created amongst men to ensure their inherent rights. Part of that is protecting us against those who refuse to acknowledge those rights, at home or abroad.

And Mr. Eddy, I suggest you read America Alone, by Mark Steyn. He makes a good point there, and uses quotes to back it up. While Al Qaeda would love to kill Bush, Cheney, Blair, or any other Western Leader... they are just as happy to kill you, me, or any other "infidel." It's all the same.

To Mr. Mann: Your article was very amusing, but please, we're better than that. There's no need to point these things out. We see it all. The real question is: what does this say about Democrats as a whole? And the "young voters" who have helped Obama reach where he is? Now, that is scary.
-- Charles Campbell
Austin, Texas

RISING TIDE
Re: The letters under "Waiting in the Wings" in Reader Mail's Al Qaeda's Spotter:

Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona.
-- Michael Skaggs
Murray, Kentucky

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