Columns » Bob Lancaster

Not news



The top news story one day last week was that a Florida huckster was not running for president.

That didn't seem right to me. I come from the old school which holds that it's news when something happens but it's not when something doesn't.

It would've been big news, for example, if the Second Coming or the Rapture or whatever-the-hell had occurred last Saturday as predicted. But it didn't so it wasn't.

It might've qualified as news if the Florida huckster — a foolish man who's building himself a big house on the sand as a kind of up-yours gesture to his Lord and Savior (see Matthew 7:26) — had said he was running for president. But that would've been small news, not big news. Certainly not banner news, above the fold.

It would've been news of about the same size as when Ron Paul said he was running for president again. About the same size news as when Pat Robertson said he was running — Bro. Pat and the Flordia huckster having much in common, come to think of it, in outlook, scope, depth, and such as that. Especially the depth part.

But since the "news" was that the Florida huckster wasn't running, rather than that he was, it amounted to no more than the near-identical Trump announcement just a day or two earlier or later.

Both of these characters, Trump and Huck, are on TV, and in need of some ratings Geritol. At the end of his dalliance with the presidential idea, Trump only wanted to go back to playing his miserable, ridiculous self, while Huck slank back to his own minimalist set to swap hot licks with Ted Nugent pretending they were making pussies purr. That's what Nugent said anyway. Or "sang."

I don't know much about puddy-tats and what it takes to get them palpitating, but I suspect the surest formula doesn't prescribe two old twilight necks, the grimy one yelling vulgar peckerwood boasts while the nerdy one with the pulpit cooties hate-crimes Terpsichore on hog guitar. Just a hunch.

It was totally ignored by the media for some reason — probably a dark, conspiratorial reason — but that same day Huck said he wasn't running for president, there were some other people who, if they'd been asked, would've said they weren't running for president, either.

Darrell Teeter, for example. According to one of his old jingles, Teeter is a cheater who'll cheat you more for less. Occasionally over 15 years Esquire magazine used to run a picture of a smiling Richard Nixon, with the caption: Would you buy a used car from this man? I always thought, Maybe I would, but probably not. But I did buy a car from Teeter the Cheater — a new car, too — and one reason was the kind of sneaky, self-joshing candor in that jingle.

That's a quality you want in a car dealer and in a presidential candidate, but you seldom see it in the latter. The quality the presi- dential candidate covets is not candor, not clarity, but deniability. To be able to deny as fervently tomorrow what he averred today, and to do so without losing face. You saw a classic case of the syndrome over the weekend with Newt Gingrich explaining how it would be a lie to quote him accurately today on something that he wouldn't deny that he'd said yesterday.

Or something to that effect, but incomprehensible.

The point being that IMHO it's more newsworthy when a person declines to run for president who's candid, and doesn't mind being clever at the expense of his own pomposity — a person like Teeter the Cheater — than when it's done by one of these professional attention chasers who don't know what to do with it when they've bagged some.

Gary Weir declining to run for president would be more newsworthy than them. Particularly if he turned the question back on the questioners — and I think he'd do this — asking them if, as president, he'd have to walk to school or carry his lunch.

Or Jim Bob Duggar. Here's you some real news : How would he find the time to run for president? — this man who just by the force of his example inspired Viagra to revise upward from four hours to 40 years the amount of time passing before a tumescence becomes a matter of concern rather than pride, more of a problem then a means to an end.

But this isn't about only celebrities. Newsworthier to me personally than that Mr. Huckabee isn't running for president would be that my neighbor Mr. Wilson isn't. That because, based on what I've seen over a fairly long period, Mr. Wilson would make a better president because he's a better man. (I mean that as a compliment, though I can see how the term "damning with faint praise" would come into consideration here.)

The same could be said of my neighbor Mr. Bone. Or Mr. Freeman. Or Mr. Nattin. Or their spice. Or any of those nice folks taking their evening walks on the street yonder. None of them running for president, as far as I know ­— exactly the same as Mr. Huckabee. Except classier, of course. They don't go around with their hand out. And also unlike him, I'd bet anything they're not just playing possum.

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