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Recent present

BY BEAU ELLIOT | JUNE 07, 2011 7:20 AM

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One thing you can say about our beloved politicians without fear of being contradicted — they sure know how to keep Jon Stewart in material.

You’d almost think they’re in cahoots. (Not to start a conspiracy theory or anything. But — is the “The Daily Show” taped on a grassy knoll?)

Take Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and the maelstrom that erupted last week after a photo of a man in his underwear was sent out on his Twitter account. The “target” reportedly was a 21-year-old college woman — which brings up the age-old question: What is about middle-age men that makes them believe 21-year-old women are the slightest bit interested?

Yeah, that’s the kind of behavior we’ve come to expect from our Congressional representatives. I mean, it’s not as if the country is facing any problems or anything.

Weiner (I’m not going to make any tasteless jokes here, but feel free) at first denied he had done it, sort of, at one point called CNN producer Ted Barrett a “jackass” (keen debating point there), then on Monday came clean and admitted he had engaged in inappropriate behavior. There were lots of tears.

Well, there are always lots of tears when a guy admits inappropriate behavior. Have you noticed? It’s the Lacrimation Nation.

Then there’s former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., jumping into the scrum running for the GOP presidential nomination and saying President Obama had wrecked the economy.

That would be hilarious, except that there’s nothing funny about the economy. There are plenty of villains in the Who Wrecked the Economy story (see Planet Money), but Obama isn’t one of them.

The economy started tanking in December 2007 and was free fall by the summer of 2008. Obama took office in January 2009. It’s called history.

Maybe Santorum lives in the recent present, whatever that might be. That’s probably a concept novelist William Gibson could understand.

Speaking of history, the ever-present, if not effervescent, Sarah Palin had a brush with it (she was not hurt) on June 2, when she told a Boston crowd that Paul Revere had warned the British during his famous ride. With bells and warning shots, no less.

Great stuff. No doubt Jon Stewart was listening.

But as Robert Allison, the chairman of the History Department at Suffolk University told NPR, Revere didn’t ring any bells or fire any warning shots. He rode, as most of us learned, to warn Lexington and Concord that the British Army was on the move and planned to seize the colonists’ arms at Concord and arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams. Revere’s ride ended when British soldiers arrested him, and he told them that the colonists were ready for them.

The incident was reminiscent of Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who not long ago in a speech in New Hampshire famously demonstrated her sharp sense of American history by shifting the Revolutionary battles of Lexington and Concord from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. But perhaps it wasn’t a lack of history; maybe Bachmann just has a quite fluid sense of geography.

We could be generous about this. We do, after all, have these things called tectonic plates running around out there. Or in there, depending on your perspective.

Of course, geological running around is not quite the same thing as what you and I mean when we sit over a couple of beers and talk about running around. Not that we do that.

And in any case, Massachusetts and New Hampshire are on the same plate. It’s a full plate, as you can well imagine.

It could be we’re all living in the recent present. Jon Stewart and William Gibson will understand.


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