“He'll Give You Such A Pinch!”...Then Scream When You Pinch him Back.
Maybe you have to be of a “certain” age, but for me, one of the most annoying, “make-you-wanna-put-a-shovel-upside-his-head” characters on the television of my youth believe it or not, was not Dustin Diamond's “Screech” from “Saved By The Bell” infamy, but rather, the creepy and horrifically immature “Stinky” from the old, black and white “Abbott & Costello” show. I must have seen every episode of that odd, and occasionally surreal program, but the one thing that would put my teeth on edge every time I saw it was that damned “Stinky” character, as played by Joe Besser—a.k.a. “Curly Joe” Besser—of The mid-fifties replacement for the original “Curly” (and Shemp Howard) fame, or rather...infamy. A not-bad comedian, Besser was shoe-horned into the rotating “Third Stooge” role after the illness of the original Curly and ill health of Shemp. He never fit in really, and played the role as a kind of prissy, man-child—all whining and slapping, as was his “schtick”.
But it was his turn just before that as the addled “Stinky” on Abbott & Costello that would ultimately define, or actually kind of pigeonhole Besser. “Stinky” was a disturbing twist on his prissy, man-child stock-in-trade. “Stinky” was a grown man obviously, but was clearly either emotionally disturbed, or playing out some kind of crazy surreal conceit in that he walked around in a black velvet “Little Lord Fauntleroy” shorts suit for a little boy, replete with ankle socks, patent-leather Stride-Rites™, a big, string tie and a straw Buster Brown-style summer hat. The look was often completed with his sporting a big-as-your-head lollipop. Here...for your viewing pleasure (or displeasure as it were) is “Stinky” in action.
Now, it's clear that “Stinky” is a middle-aged man to you and I, but on the show, “Stinky's” age or obvious issues are never addressed. In fact, he's treated by everyone as a petulant, snarky child—everyone save Costello that is, who simply cannot stand the little jerk, and is always ready to bust him one across his lips for his open and destructive transgressions. It's the wheedling Bud Abbott who's constantly telling Lou to humor “Stinky” and his misdeeds. Basically, “Let him get away with shit because...well, can't you see how maladjusted (a.k.a.: fucked-up) the poor guy is?” And let's face it folks...“Stinky” was a mess. A violent, seething, simpering whack-job with no sense of proportion or fairness. He was spoiled rotten, and when he didn't get his way, he'd become a crazy man-child thug, physically attacking anyone who dared challenge him on his shittiness, and then? Then, he'd whine and cry and yes, stomp his patent-leather clad feet about the sidewalk over the “injustice” of his treatment with all the gusto a lunatic, fifty-plus year old baby could muster. Costello, knowing he'd been told to let the deranged goon's stuff slide, would do his best to take it...until even he could no longer abide “Stinky's” habitual line stepping, and he'd eventually retaliate in kind, stomping those shiny feet of “Stinkys'”, pinching, and even punching him sometimes, tit for tat.
Because Costello's attitude was, “I don't give a damn what you say this dude is supposed to be, or what his problem might be, I'm just not gonna let this asshole continue to take liberties with me or my intelligence every damn day. A jerk is a jerk is a jerk.
Now...why? Why do I have “Stinky” on the brain nowadays? Who could move me to think about that annoying little jerk today?
Ask, and ye shall be told.
Our Dangerously Flawed Republican candidate for President, one John Sidney McCain is a virtual “Stinky” clone. We—the American public, have been told by the press, and McCain's party, in the Bud Abbott role, to our Costello, to “Let him get away with shit because...well, can't you see how maladjusted the poor guy is?” We are to pity John McCain, and in so pitying and genuflecting, allow him the widest berth possible to lie, cheat, defame and even be as dumb as a bag of brick dust, but treat him as if he were God's wonderful gift to us all—a brilliant, moral model for us to bow to and love unconditionally, never mind if he smacks us across the mouth repeatedly with brass knucks.
The events in McCain's campaign over the last two weeks should be more than enough to disabuse Americans of any notions of his being a paragon of anything decent. I know they have for me. Many of us, in spite of disagreeing with him and holding him accountable for his alliance with the worst elements in his party, have tended at times to be overly fair to him. Cutting him just a bit of slack because of who he is, or rather, what he went through in the jungles of Vietnam.
He suffered. Mightily. For five years at the hands of torturers for the North Vietnamese. I documented that here:
“...And then...he was captured by the VietCong after his A-4 Skyhawk was shot down. His body, broken badly in the ejecting from his shot-to-pieces plane (he broke both arms and a leg) would be further savaged as they bayonetted him, shattered his arms again and again, bound him, tortured him, beat him, and to sunder his mind, solitary confined him.
I don't want to even think of the nightmares this man must have. They wrecked him body and soul for five-and-a-half years—sometimes getting the mayhem up to three beatings a week for extended periods of time.”
Hell it most certainly was. I don't want to know what his nightmares are like.
But those nightmares in the end are his, and not mine. And you would think, that all of that awful suffering, and surviving it, would have maybe made him into the person he has pretended to be for so many years—a more thoughtful, introspective man with a grasp for justice and fairness for his fellow man.
It apparently hasn't done a hell of a lot for him at all, save for actually allowing him to be more or the unctuous, grasping and selfish jerk he was when he was grab-assing around the Naval Academy and getting over on his daddy the Admiral's prestige before his imprisonment.
You might think...that all of that pain and suffering might have sensitized him to the plight of people in America who suffered at the end of lynching ropes , the butt of the gun and skin-peeling spray of the water cannon. Black folks. But you'd be wrong, wrong wrong about that, when you consider his craven and evil work to deny the national acknowledgment of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday as a holiday. And then to have the temerity to slough off the series of slaps as “youthful errors” in judgement? When his ass was forty-eight (48!) years old when he voted down the legislation?
No...John McCain has gotten the eight fish stick dinner at Long John Silver's™ gratis for too many Goddamned years over his hyping his victimhood, and he's used the horrible spectre of his captivity as a shield and cudgel to silence anyone wno criticizes him, playing the “pity me” card as handily as if he had twenty of 'em up his sleeve on a spring loaded chute to his hand. It's been a veritable godsend for him whenever he's gotten hemmed up in his self-inflicted prisons of avarice and stupid.
The captive John McCain of 1968 to 1973 si quite honestly, a totally separate person from the mean and evil SOB we see running for President today. He must be. Because I'm guessing that damaged,'68 to '73 guy probably had to be compartmentalized just so the man could get through life day-to-day. The man who suffered all that pain is locked away somewhere deep inside where we can't get at him, and where the McCain of today has difficulty doing so himself. Or maybe...it's not that it's necessarily difficult, but actually inconvenient considering what his present ambitions are. So instead, he props up the grinning, thumbs-up, cardboard, stand-up asshole version of himself to serve his present purposes when he needs it.
You see, the John McCain that came back was physically broken, yes indeed. But he wasn't even a whole person emotionally when he left for Vietnam in 1967 in the first place. He was a royal jerk. A fuck-the-world flyboy who didn't give a rat's ass about much of anything because he knew that life was going to be a sweet get-over for him no matter what he did. Daddy was a Goddamned Admiral and Johnny was an Admiral's son. He was free, White and 31—and papa was in charge of ships with guns. Hooo-ahhhh! The world couldn't fuck with that! So, after all of that humbling hell of captivity and torture, breaking this son of privilege down into pretty much a crash-test dummy for how much pain can willfully be inflicted on a human being, what many of us think now is that the McCain that came back was while physically damaged, maybe became a better person than he was before he disappeared into that sweltering jungle of pain. Right? Right?
No. He came back and the first thing he did was sniff around for an easy payday, then dogged out his wife who waited for him, and then he figured out a way to get the most dough and prestige possible based pretty much on “marketing” what he'd gone through. Maybe it was the only way he could deal with it—but it was a damned shitty way to deal with it and there's no other way to describe it. And then? Then, he helped four very connected Senate buddies cover up the looting of a financial backer's savings bank to the tune of 285 million dollars while he and his peeps divvied up close to 1.5 million dollars in hush / interference money. How very “Dead Presidents” of the former Vietnam veteran.
You see, his captivity or his thoughts about said captivity in the end didn't make him any better a person once he came home...just an unfortunate person who suffered, but has apparently learned nothing, or absorbed nothing about human kindness as a result of it.
It didn't make him any smarter about the nature of armed conflict itself we have found out, thanks to his ill-considered support of the war in Iraq especially in spite of his not having so much as a clue who the hell the factions are involved in the fighting.
It hasn't made him any more respectful of women, as evidenced by his cavalier screwing over his wife upon returning home, and then viciously disrespecting the new trophy wife publicly by calling her disgusting, scatological names in front of the press.
We know it hasn't given him a scintilla of feeling towards the downtrodden (which he was certainly one of while held hostage) what with his aforementioned “lack of knowledge of” (Again...please...) and subsequent dissing of the Nobel Prize-winning and internationally respected Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
And maybe most disturbingly, it apparently hasn't even inured him to the heinous and moral authority-robbing practice of torture itself by the U.S., as we would find out during this year's GOP primary campaign where the Senator would truly debase himself by supporting the criminal Bush administration's anti-Geneva Convention policies towards detainees / prisoners.
That final, little handing over of what remained of his soul is the anvil on the over-loaded camel's back insofar as an indicator of lost integrity on McCain's part. There really never was a “maverick”, or straight-talker. There was however, a shameless schmoozer and “guilt game”-runner par excellence. And yes, what “honor” is there is of the cheap, after-market, bolt-on variety. Chrome-sprayed, plastic rims on his wheezing jalopy of a soul.
Yet, we are told that we should extend courtesies to this man, “give him a humble” as Bud Abbott implored Lou Costello to do with poor, misunderstood “Stinky”.
The hell with that. No free passes for this spoiled brat of a man. Who went through his tough times, yes...but has been none the better for it, and cares little for anyone save himself, after it. Who has used that hell as a cheap, and tawdry dodge for him to get away with everything under the sun ever since. Ditch a wife. Parlay his starring in a real-life version of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” into a grossly obese nest-egg and access to unheard-of power. And then, aid in the theft of millions of dollars from hard-working Americans to line a pal's pockets.
But it's supposed to be all forced “Patty-cake” and back breaking games of “Horsey” with him bucking for all he's worth and squealing and never calling him on his shit?
No. No. NO.
There is no free pass for rank ass-holery to be extended here. And what happened to him in Vietnam doesn't automatically make him a “good” person who special courtesies should be extended to. That's brutal...but it's also the damn truth.
An acquaintance who is a therapist told me a couple of years ago about a person they'd heard about who was having grief issues over September 11th...but not the grief issues you might think...
Said person was conflicted because they felt odd about not feeling an overweening sadness about a former significant other who was killed in the attacks. It seems the victim was way less than kind to this person, and had spent a long time emotionally and physically abusing them, even sending them to the hospital several times over the years. The survivor's conflict came from that inability to feel the sadness she seemed conditioned to feel behind the tragedy of that day. Said person feared they had drifted into a-morality and thought something was wrong with him/herself.
But the therapist told this survivor that the feeling they had (or rather, didn't have) was a natural, and honest response to the ill-treatment and overall shittiness rendered by the victim. The breakthrough came when the doctor suggested the patient consider that person who'd stoked such bad feelings as separate from the horrible event itself. It was okay to consider that person's deeds—bad as they were—in their overall opinion of them, in spite of the natural, knee-jerk response the events of September 11th so easily prompt.
“You don't feel that way about everyone on the planes and in the towers, do you?”, the doctor asked.
“No. Just him/her”.
“Well...people are judged by their deeds pretty much. It may seem harsh...but bad people inspire bad feelings. And that's the tough part about being a jerk and doing awful things—human nature being what it is, sympathy is not a 100 percent unconditional thing. You can feel sadness over an event. You can have sympathy for those who suffer as a result of it. But that doesn't make someone who may have suffered but was also less-than-kind, automatically deserving of love. Good people and bad people go through hell every day. And in the end...if they continue in their ways, they remain good and bad. Not suddenly, specially all good.”
Senator McCain plays that “Look at what I went through” card cheaply. Shamelessly. And he de-values the awful brutality he actually suffered when he does so.
But that brutality doesn't make him decent. Or kind. Or trustworthy. In the end, based on his behavior before, and after his time in Vietnam...he's a mean-spirited, selfish creep...who happened to go through hell.
The historical record shows him to have been a creep before that “hell”, and afterward.
No special “pass”. No “humoring”. Judgement and treatment is based on the pure “you”.
The “get-over” days are done, “Stinky”.
Oh yes, and fuck your punk-ass whining.