You know how, when you clean out the freezer, there are things that you don’t throw out because they sounded delectable or they were too expensive to just toss. There has been a good portion of pastrami in mine for months, maybe years and for whatever reason, it still remains in the freezer. We are not going eat it, but this week I finally found a use for it. When I fell last week and banged my knee, the result was swelling and a black and blue mark from right above the ankle to well up my thigh. It needed to be iced, but finding one ice pack that long was nearly impossible, until I remembered the pastrami. It packed flat so it was about 14 inches long and about 7 inches wide, just about the size of my injury. No, I’m not going to eat it, but I am going to keep it frozen in case of another emergency.
After the pastrami story I hesitate to get serious, but I must. There is a great deal of talk about media access to the President. There is a great deal of it but it is only of interest to a small circle of people who cover the President. There is till a great deal of talk, but it probably is not your morning breakfast conversation.... unless someone in your household is assigned to the White House.
There is always a tension between the media and the communication people on the White House staff. Over the years the Presidential staff has tried to limit the access of the media but there is usually an outcry, so it hasn’t worked. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, he confirms that there was this tension during the Clinton days, but he says that it was Hillary’s idea to close off the Press Secretary’s office (which for decades was traditionally open to reporters.) No matter who tried to do it, it did not work. Not until this Administration, for a number of reasons. The Press continue to allow the White House to do what they want for fear of retribution, (the last Press Secretary threatened that “there will be blood” if the National News Channel didn’t listen to his foolish requests), and the technology is so sophisticated that releases from the White House Press Office are picked up and reprinted by the media outlet as if it was their own. Writers can do this, photographers cannot. The public generally has no idea who did what.
So when did this “no access”, closed press begin? Probably on the day the Chief Justice had to swear the President in for the second time (you remember, he flubbed it on the first Obama inaugural.) And all they had to do was get away with it once. From then on it was Closed Press event, after Closed Press event. They even closed the event with the aging veterans of the Negro baseball leagues. Why would they do that? But a better question is, why did the league allow it?
This last trip to Africa for the Mandela funeral was a forty hour trip -- in the air. The only VIP who came back to talk to the press covering the event, was former President George W. Bush -- who had nothing to say but what he did say, he said off the record. Not that it mattered, but he made a gesture of good will, and it was appreciated by the people with whom he spoke. The President might as well have not been on the plane for all the conversation he had with anyone other than family and friends. And since he has taken to ‘selfie’ photo shots, before you know it there won’t even be an official White House photographer to catch all the events no one else can.
And in conclusion, a few days ago we lost Tom Laughlin. He wrote, produced and starred in the Billy Jack movies. A folk hero of sorts, he was the first producer to advertise his films on TV, and he ran for President -- yes of the United States. He had no money and no experience in politics. So what idiot would work for him -- you guessed it, this idiot. But that’s another blob. We also lost Peter O’Toole, one of my favorite actors ever. While he is remembered for his role in Lawrence of Arabia, what he should be remembered for is his role in “My Favorite Year”, “Goodbye Mr. Chips” and, of course “Ratatouille”. He shamefully (for the Academy) never won an Oscar, though nominated 8 times.. And when asked if just being nominated was an honor he replied, “Second prize is no prize, thank you very much indeed." Now there’s a guy who should have been President! Happy holidays