Dave Barry – Pithy into the Wind – Miami Herald – 3/29/87

Dave Barry

The burgeoning Iran-contra scandal is truly an issue about which we, as a nation, need to concern ourselves, because

(Secret Note To Readers: Not really! The hell with the Iran-contra affair! Let it burgeon! I’m just trying to win a journalism prize, here. Don’t tell anybody! I’ll explain later. Shhhh.)

When we look at the Iran-contra scandal, and for that matter the mounting national health-care crisis, we can see that these are, in total, two issues, each requiring a number of paragraphs in which we will comment, in hopes that

( . . . we can win a journalism prize. Ideally a Pulitzer. That’s the object, in journalism. At certain times each year, we journalists do almost nothing except apply for the Pulitzers and several dozen other major prizes. During these times you could walk right into most newsrooms and commit a multiple ax murder naked, and it wouldn’t get reported in the paper, because the reporters and editors would all be too busy filling out prize applications. “Hey!” they’d yell at you. “Watch it! You’re getting blood on my application!”)

we can possibly, through carefully analyzing these important issues — the Iran- contra scandal, the mounting national health-care crisis, and (while we are at it), the federal budget deficit — through analyzing these issues and mulling them over and fretting about them and chewing on them until we have reduced them to soft, spit- covered gobs of information that you, the readers, can

( . . . pretty much ignore. It’s OK! Don’t be ashamed! We here in journalism are fully aware that most of you skip right over stories that look like they might involve major issues, which you can identify because they always have incomprehensible headlines like “House Parley Panel Links Nato Tax Hike To Hondurans In Syrian Arms Deal.” Sometimes we’ll do a whole series with more total words than the Brothers Karamazov and headlines like: “The World Mulch Crisis: A Time To Act.” You readers don’t bother to wade through these stories, and you feel vaguely guilty about this. Which is stupid. You’re not supposed to read them. We journalists don’t read them. We use modern computers to generate them solely for the purpose of entering them for journalism prizes. We’re thinking about putting the following helpful advisory over them: “Caution! Journalism Prize Entry! Do Not Read!“)

gain, through a better understanding of these very important issues — the Iran- contra scandal; the health-care crisis

(which as you may be aware is both national AND mounting); the federal budget deficit; and yes, let’s come right out and say it, the Strategic Defense Initiative — you readers can gain a better understanding of them, and thus we might come to an enhanced awareness of what they may or may not mean in terms of

( . . . whether or not I can win a Pulitzer Prize. That’s the one I’m gunning for. You get $1,000 cash, plus all the job offers the mailperson can carry. Unfortunately, the only category I’d be eligible for is called “Distinguished Social Commentary,” which is a real problem, because of the kinds of issues I generally write about. “This isn’t Distinguished Social Commentary!” the Pulitzer judges would say. “This is about goat boogers!” So today I’m trying to class up my act a little by writing about prize-winning issues. OK? Sorry.)

how we, as a nation, can, through a deeper realization of the significance of these four vital issues — health care in Iran, the strategic federal deficit, mounting the contras, and one other one which slips my mind at the moment, although I think it’s the one that’s burgeoning — how we can, as a nation, through Distinguished Social Commentary such as this, gain the kind of perspective and foresight required to understand

( . . . a guy like noted conservative columnist George Will. You see him, on all those TV shows where he is always commenting on world events in that snotty smartass way of his, with his lips pursed together like he just accidentally licked the plumbing in a bus-station restroom, and you quite naturally say to yourself, as millions have before you: “Why doesn’t somebody just take this little dweeb and stick his bow tie up his nose?
Huh?” And the answer is: Because a long time ago, for reasons nobody remembers anymore, George Will won a Pulitzer Prize. And now he gets to be famous and rich and respected for ever and ever. That’s all I want! Is that so much to ask?!)

what we, and I am talking about we as a nation, need to have in order to deeply understand all the issues listed somewhere earlier in this column. And although I am only one person, one lone Distinguished Social Commentator crying in the wilderness, without so much as a bow tie, I am nevertheless committed to doing whatever I can to deepen and widen and broaden and lengthen the national understanding of these issues in any way that I can, and that includes sharing the $1,000 with the judges.

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