Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Stillwater: Coach Thole Shares An Inspiring Anecdote

In a recent piece Gazette columnist local School Board official George Thole “blew everybody’s mind” with a strange Internet anecdote that purports to convey the essence of Republican Party philosophy. The skinny version: A Republican conservative has a haughty, snooty, arrogant liberal kid at college, and goes to visit her. “I’m a little depressed,” says the kid. “I’m working so hard. I’ve got a 4.0 GPA--but my roommate is really popular because she never does her schoolwork and parties all the time—of course, she has a 2.0 GPA and she’s just barely getting by.” “Well,” says the father, “Why don’t you just shave a point off your GPA and give it to your roommate so things will be more fair.” “What!” says his daughter. “It’s my GPA, I worked hard for it! I’m not giving it away to anyone else.” Her father “slowly smiled” and said “Welcome to the Republican Party.”

Boy, that’s a good one, isn’t it? One criticism: I’m not sure which is correct, but I think it should have read “smiled slowly;” not “slowly smiled.” Perhaps it doesn’t matter whether the dad in the story “smiled slowly” or “smiled quickly”—“smiled triumphantly” or “smiled smugly” would give you a better sense of what the story’s about. But it’s probably not even a true story; people with a 4.0 GPAs aren’t usually welcome in the Republican Party.

Anyway, here’s a more realistic version of the same anecdote. A Republican conservative has a haughty, snooty arrogant kid (is there any other kind of kid, in these anecdotes?) at college, and visits him. “I’m a little depressed,” says the kid. “My roommate’s in the army reserve. He’s not wealthy like us—he’s from a blue-collar family and needed to join the army to get money for school. He just got called up to go and fight in Iraq.” “Well,” says the father, “Why don’t you volunteer to go in his place so life would be more fair?” “What!” say the kid. “We’re rich, I don’t have to join the army. I’m not taking any chances on getting killed or maimed for the United States of America.” His father “slowly smiled/smiled slowly” again, and said “Welcome to the Republican Party--and now that you’ve refused to do combat, we can ask the college Dean to shave TWO points off your GPA--and then you’ll be eligible to be the Republican Presidential nominee! Whoopee!”

Or how about this one: A Republican conservative goes to visit his hoity-toity, haughty daughter at some Communist liberal college, and she starts in with a diatribe questioning all his core beliefs. “Well,” says the father, “Why don’t you just take your 4.0 GPA and put it where the sun doesn’t shine?” And then he “slowly smiled” and cut off all her financial support. Two weeks later his daughter came crawling back to him, got down on her knees and sobbed: “I’m sorry, daddy--I’ll believe whatever you want me to believe from now on, because you’ve got the money.” Her father “smiled slowly” (he had always dreamed of degrading his daughter like this and robbing her any illusions about the value of self-sacrifice for the sake of others) and said, “Welcome to the Republican Party.” But just then--a big monster came in and ate them both!

And here’s another fictional anecdote I came up with: young George Thole’s dad came to visit him at some fancy-schmancy leftist liberal college and George started delivering a heart-felt diatribe and challenging all his father’s core beliefs, and all that stuff that kids usually do in these inspiring anecdotes. His father told him to go out into the real world and get a job in the private sector, if he was so smart. “No thanks, Dad!” said young George. “I’d rather coach for some high school and make my living off other people’s taxes. That way, even the people who don’t have kids in school will have to pony up for my sports budget—and pay me to coach OTHER people’s kids! Ha! But that won’t stop me from moaning about how no one should have to give up anything to help out anyone else—no sir, I don’t see any logical contradictions or hypocrisy there!” George’s father either smiled slowly or slowly smiled, and said: “Welcome to the Republican Party.” Just then, Campus Security came into the dorm room and demanded to know what George and his father were doing there, since neither of them had any affiliation with the college. Then there was an ugly scene, which I will not go into here.

Well--Thole and I could kick these inspiring yarns around all day, I bet. But the Gazette pays Thole to pad his column with resentment-filled anecdotes he pulls off the Internet—I, on the other hand, don’t get a dime for this (as my editor pointed out to the world last week) even though I come up with original content each week. So the hell with this anecdote jazz, I say.

By the way: in a column that appeared in this newspaper on July 15, 2004, Mr. Thole told Gazette readers that I was “far to the left of Ted Kennedy, Al Franken and Michael Moore.”

Mr. Thole was lying to you.

William Prendergast is the author of the crime thriller “Forbidden Hollywood” and enjoys visiting young people on college campuses and making smug, cutting remarks that expose their youthful compassion and idealism as a pretentious sham and completely destroy it forever so they can become good Republicans.


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