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June 12, 2007

Fools’ Names, Fools’ Faces

Andrew Ferguson – ISBN 0871136511

I would not have been aware of this book had I not read Deja Reviews, recently reviewed on this site. It is no longer in print, but I found several at for $2 plus postage, and it is very much worth the miniscule effort to get it.

Ferguson, like Florence King, is a pundit and “political assassin.” And, also like King, is an equal opportunity basher, lacerating grand poobahs from Nixon to Clinton, “the Donald” to Bill Moyers, Gennifer Flowers to Imus and Gorbachev to Newt Gingrich. Enjoy !!!

Ferguson is a master at dropping you to your knees in laughter as you wet your pants, as he inserts the unexpected or improbable into his commentary. By way of enticing you to read this book, my review will be limited to just a few such parts of his narrative.

Once, while sharing the stage with Gennifer Flowers during her 15 minutes of fame, the fact that Andrew was on her side in this encounter occasioned her remark: “Thank God. . . . I’ll tell you, whoever said the truth will set you free was full of shit.” Ferguson: “I think that was Jesus.”

While “Babs” was doing her encore: Somewhere, (“Hold my hand and I’ll take you there”) he comments: “Of course she will. . . . Artist as Artist: over the hill. Barbra isn’t merely the defender of modern liberalism. She is its symbol.”

After the Gingrich sweep in ’94: “This sudden turnabout hits the Democrats where they live. For the first time in fifty years they’re behind the curve. Gingrich and his colleagues have mastered the latest dance craze, slamming in the mosh pit to the hottest CDs. . . . And poor Gephardt and Bonior [are] off in the corner, in baggy lime-green leisure suits with lemon-yellow piping, fussing with the eight-track and trying to learn the Hustle.”

“The ultimate trophy is the fax machine [remember, this book is from 1995] . . . but the more commonplace [is the] cellular phone. You see [boomers] walking down the boulevards of every major city, these yuppies with the portable phones attached to their ears, stopping traffic, tripping over hydrants, bumping into lampposts. There are 25 million [of them, and they] display an infantile yearning for incessant stimulation, a pathetic play for self validation a quest for identity in quicksand: I talk on the phone, therefore I am.”

“. . . the central irony of the Information Age: As our means of communication accelerate there are fewer things of interest to talk about and fewer interesting people to talk about them with. . . . so little to say, so many ways to say it. See the businessman on the transatlantic flight with $4,000 of micro-cosmic hardware resting in his lap, plugging in his fax modem with trembling fingers so he can access . . . at the speed of light! In maxicolor liquid crystal display! . . . the New York Times op-ed page.”

“I remember the moment when my disenchantment with the Information Age became irreversible. I had flipped on AOL one night and joined a celebrity forum. The special guests were Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop. The questions from out in cyberspace came fast and furious, for both guests, and the reality of the thing hit me all at once: from coast to coast, people with the intelligence to operate computers were actually sitting at home and conversing with a hand puppet. . . . This is the revenge of the nerds!

“For years, commentators speculated on Gorbachev’s intellectual development, as he worked his way through the classics of Western political thought: from Aristotle to the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers, through Lincoln and even to Hayek. He has finally come to rest, on the Whole Earth Catalog.”

And my personal favorite: “At the kickoff dinner of the State of the World Forum [there was] a distinguished company including retired diplomats (George Shultz and Zbigniew Brzezinski), Nobel laureates (Guatemala’s Rigoberta Menchu and the Bell Labs physicist Arno Penzias), science popularizers (Carl Sagan and Fritjof Capra), movie stars (Jane Fonda and Shirley MacLaine), rich guys (Ted Turner and David Packard), New Age gurus (Sam Keen and Deepak Chopra), and many more—five hundred in all, leading lights from business, politic, religion and the arts. Such an extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge and spiritual insight has not been seen in a single room since Bill Moyers dined alone.”

But I’ll leave some of the best for you to discover on your own, and encourage you mightily to do so . . . ASAP.

Posted by respeto at June 12, 2007 1:38 PM