Posted by: mutantpoodle | April 20, 2010

Josh Marshall encounters the [Harry] Golden Rule

Josh Marshall at TPM recently mocked Sue Lowden, who is running for Harry Reid’s U.S. Senate seat in Nevada, for suggesting barter as a health care cost control.

I Bid Three Chickens for that M-R-I !! was his snarky headline.

Lowden, apparently, has doubled down:

I sort of figured she’d rethink that plan after her advisors sat her down for a moment and explained the concept of a cash economy or maybe if she found out what ‘barter’ meant. But it turns out that she was serious. Not just serious. She was actually thinking about payment in chickens too.

Yesterday she told a local news program: “I’m telling you that this works. You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor.”

I’m always troubled by these moments when my sarcasm and snark is outpaced by the ugly reality.

Marshall has encountered what Calvin Trillin calls the [Harry] Golden rule of comedy:

The Harry Golden Rule, properly stated, is that in present-day America it’s very difficult, when commenting on events of the day, to invent something so bizarre that it might not actually come to pass while your piece is still on the presses.

During the fifties Harry Golden observed that white people in his part of North Carolina didn’t mind standing up with black people, they only minded sitting down with them, so he suggested that the way to integrate the schools was to simply take the chairs out and have the kids stand up at their desks. I think he called it, “Harry Golden’s Plan for the Vertical Integration of the Schools.” About a year later some library was ordered integrated by a federal court and it proceeded to take the chairs out.

This is what is called, “being blindsided by the truth,” which is a real problem [for satirists] in America.

Today’s GOP: keeping the Golden rule alive.

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Responses

  1. So maybe we all start raising chickens, and then the doctors will start competing with Perdue, or Foster Farms…

  2. […] of Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Preservation Foundation documents on Independence Park: The park The Harry Golden rule Share this:MoreFacebookTwitterRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  3. […] of Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Preservation Foundation documents on Independence Park: The park The Harry Golden rule Share this:MoreFacebookTwitterRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  4. […] this story which led American journalist Calvin Trillin to coin the Harry Golden Rule of political satire, which is that “in present day America it’s very difficult, when commenting […]


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