Squash that cookie monster!

Alan Lupo

September 22, 1992|By Alan Lupo

THE nation is beset by deficit, depression and doubt about its ability to live up to its potential, and what is the Republican Party going to do?

It is going to collar and cuff Big Bird and the Cookie Monster.

This is not classified information. It's right there in the GOP platform under "Managing Government in the Public Interest."

"We deplore the blatant political bias of the government-sponsored radio and television networks. It is especially outrageous that taxpayers are now forced to underwrite this biased broadcasting through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. We call for sweeping reform of CPB."

"And it's about time," some might say as they slam their desktops with the palms of their hands. "Go to it! Heil!" Er, did they say "Heil"? They meant to say "Hail." But whatever, "Onward, troopers."

It takes a dullard not to notice that when Big Bird sways to the music, he seems to favor swaying a bit more to the left than to the right. Ah, would that Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy were around today. He could make something of all this.

Don't look here for a passionate defense of public radio or television, for it is regarded as too often precious, precocious, boring and impressed with itself. If one ever had hoped that public broadcasting would manage to do what its commercial counterpart regularly fails to do -- to show the many different kinds of Americans to themselves and to one another -- then one must be disappointed.

But it's an alternative to privately run outfits that, without even conspiring, have managed to feature more garbage than any unsanitary landfill. The private sector in broadcasting has proven time and again, with some exceptions, that if given the chance to attain the lowest common denominator, it will zip right by that and go for the whale droppings.

What generally passes for news analysis on the networks, for example, can't stand in the shadow of "Washington Week in Review," an unemotional, intelligent and witty look at the week's news by crackerjack journalists. Could such a program or the "MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour" be a threat to the nation?

Only if you are a Republican, it seems. It is abundantly clear what GOP stands for -- Grotesquely Outdated Puritans.

They are for God and family, as are the Democrats, as were the Whigs, the Federalists, the Free Soilers and the Bull Moose, except that the Republicans are more for God and family than anyone else anywhere on the planet. Ever.

They are against big government mucking about with the citizens, unless the citizens are:

A). Big businessmen who want tax breaks.

B). Women who want to be left alone to decide whether they should give birth or have an abortion.

They are more against illegal immigrants than are the rest of us. They are so much against such people that their Buchanan Brigades wanted some kind of barrier between the United States and Mexico. It was not quite clear how big or thick or long a barrier it should be -- a series of pillboxes and turrets? Some barbed wire? A mine field? Machine-gun posts?

Perhaps the GOP has a job plan. Someone must build those structures, and someone has to man them 24 hours a day. Welfare mothers and laid-off high-tech executives could be trained to yell, "Who goes there?" and then, "All right, if you're one of us, name the double-play combination for the New York Giants in 1950. Dark and Rigney? Wrong! Dark and Stanky. Open fire."

And how about those Irish illegals? What with our seamen busily rejecting Haitians, perhaps the GOP will contract out for privateers to board vessels and search for people with brogues.

Well, the GOP didn't reach this stage of irrelevance without carefully studying such issues. Soon the party will respond again to its constituency and raise long-ignored questions about why we no longer teach flat-earth studies.

"Meanwhile, Cookie Monster, you have the right to remain silent. If you do not have an attorney . . ."

Alan Lupo is a Boston Globe columnist.

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