Home / General / It was a dark and stormy campaign

It was a dark and stormy campaign


Bulwer Lytton

Earlier this week some wiseacre professor at the Columbia School of Journalism held a George Will parody contest for his students in a seminar on the making of the modern punditocracy. The assignment required writing the lede for one of Will’s columns. The only ground rule was that references to baseball and Edmund Burke were strictly prohibited. Here’s the entry that garnered second place:

Energetic in body but indolent in mind, Barack Obama in his frenetic campaigning for a second term is promising to replicate his first term, although simply apologizing would be appropriate. His long campaign’s bilious tone — scurrilities about Mitt Romney as a monster of, at best, callous indifference; adolescent japes about “Romnesia” — is discordant coming from someone who has favorably compared his achievements to those of “any president” since Lincoln, with the “possible” exceptions of Lincoln, LBJ and FDR. Obama’s oceanic self-esteem — no deficit there — may explain why he seems to smolder with resentment that he must actually ask for a second term.

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  • Wow. That’s pretty good. Sounds exactly like Will.

    • Actually it sounds much, much better.

    • Alex

      Because it is. Will has been a self parody for a while now.

      I wasn’t fooled for a second, btw.

  • thusbloggedanderson

    No link to the quoted Will op-ed?

    • NonyNony

      Here ya go.

      Campos you need to telegraph your sarcasm more. Some folks won’t get the joke.

      • Uncle Kvetch

        I admit it, I didn’t.

        Most cromulently played, good sir. Most cromulently.

        • Wido Incognitus

          Pretty good. My appreciation for Campos has been embiggenned.

          • Keaaukane

            If your embiggenation lasts for more than four hours, see a doctor.

            • cpinva

              hell no!

              If your embiggenation lasts for more than four hours, see a doctor.

              you want to be parading that bad boy out on the village green!

      • Julian

        I did not get it because I dearly wished that were a real assignment.

        • NonyNony

          I assumed that if it had been a real assignment Campos would have provided a link. So I assumed he was snarking on Will but just to be sure I googled the first sentence.

          I want it to be a real assignment though. Also too – one for David Brooks.

          • Anonymous

            David Brooks is easy, just start with “there’s two kinds of people in this world…” and end with a general agreement with the GOP party line.

            • Keaaukane

              And for Thomas Friedman you just attribute the GOP line to an unnamed foreign cab driver.

              • Uncle Kvetch

                And for Thomas Friedman you just attribute the GOP line to an unnamed foreign cab driver.

                Not exactly — I think it’s more a case of attributing Obama’s line to an unnamed foreign cab driver, and then bemoaning the fact that no one in Washington is showing this kind of clear-headed thinking.

                • NonyNony

                  Also with Friedman you have to sprinkle in enough mixed metaphors to make it sound convincing but not so many that you’re winking at the audience.

              • Bexley

                The next six months days will be critical in determining whether a decent outcome is possible in Iraq the US.

            • sharculese

              Sweeping declarations about philosophical and social science concepts are also acceptable.

              • Bill Murray

                only if the declarations are incorrect

      • Walt

        I fell for it. I thought “surely, that’s going too far in the direction of parody.”

        • cpinva

          not possible with dr. will.

          I fell for it. I thought “surely, that’s going too far in the direction of parody.”

      • njorl

        I had actually thought that it was a little too much “Will” packed into that first paragraph – kind of like Rich Little over-doing Nixon. Oh well.

        I suppose next he’ll have the part in his hair surgically deepened.

  • TT

    Damn, that’s pitch-perfect. I’d like to see first place.

    • thusbloggedanderson

      Wait till Will’s post-election column.

    • david mizner

      Here it is:

      Perhaps a pleasant paradox defines this political season: That Obama is African American may be important, but in a way quite unlike that darkly suggested by, for example, MSNBC’s excitable boys and girls who, with their (at most) one-track minds and exquisitely sensitive olfactory receptors, sniff racism in any criticism of their pin-up. Instead, the nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure — thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him — seems especially reluctant to give up on the first African American president. If so, the 2012 election speaks well of the nation’s heart, if not its head.

      • Kurzleg

        What a prick.

      • Karen

        Anyone who uses the phrase “darkly suggested” in a sentence discussing the President’s skin color needs to have his pundit licensed revoked. That one really is far beyond parody.

        • cpinva

          again, not possible with dr. will:

          That one really is far beyond parody.

          look up the word “parody” in the dictionary, and you’ll find an arrow, pointing to dr. will’s picture.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Evidence perhaps that even if George Will didn’t exist, he would have to be invented?

  • Scott de B.


  • terry

    Oh, the scurrilities!

  • c u n d gulag



    That’s the joke – it’s as if he finished 2nd in his own parody contest.

    • KadeKo

      Reminds me of the (possibly apocryphal) story about Charlie Chaplin entering a “Little Tramp” lookalike contest, incognito.

      Chaplin came in third.

      • Joseph Slater

        There’s an old, old Woody Allen stand-up bit that includes a description of a costume party in which an actual moose finishes second in a “best costume” contest to a couple dressed as a moose.

      • Western Dave


        “First prize goes to the Berkowitzes”

        • Joseph Slater

          Ah, you are less lazy than I am. Excellent.

      • CJColucci

        There’s another possibly apocryphal story that Dylan wandered into a club holding a Dylan impersonation contest, entered on a lark, and came in fourth.

        • Cody

          All these impersonation contest, life must have been boring before the internet.

  • Bitter Scribe

    “Quote boy! I need something on the futility of modern life!”

  • Fighting Words

    Still not as bad as his writing on college football.

  • patrick II

    Read “Energetic in body but indolent of mind” as “dumb, lazy black guy, but he sure can move!”
    Will merely uses a larger vocabulary to participate in the racist stereotypes driving the republican campaign.

    • Quincy

      Right. “smolder with resentment that he must actually ask for a second term” = uppity.

      • joel hanes

        To be fair, someone in this picture is smoldering with resentment.

        But it’s not Barack Obama.

        • RedSquareBear

          Give him a break! He just wants his country back from, you know, those people.

          • The more important sign that our country is officially over racism is when we’re willing to fire a black President.

            Christ, typing that out, it’s depressing that that’s not actually an exaggeration.

    • JKTHs

      Shorter Will: “He’d make a better wide receiver or point guard”

  • MAJeff

    Reminds me of Kramer:

    Kramer: Hmm. Yeah. I’ll tell you who is an attractive man: George Will.
    Jerry: Really?
    Kramer: Yeah. He has clean looks, scrubbed and shampooed and…
    Elaine: He’s smart.
    Kramer: No, no, I don’t find him all that bright.

  • Jerry Vinokurov

    i see what you did there

  • Derelict

    I simply cannot understand the continued employment of Will. His prose is so far over the heads of most rightwing readers that he’s unintelligible to them. His constant distortion of any and every scientific and historic reference to further climate denialism makes him an editorial embarrassment.

    So other than providing continuing laughing stock, why isn’t he selling pencils at the corner of 5th and 42nd?

    • DrDick

      Frankly, Will is even less intelligible if you understand what he is actually saying.

      • Cody

        I believe this is the key to these kind of cons. 99% of the people who are his fans don’t actually understand what he is saying. He’s just the counter-point to the liberal elite! They support him because he is so clearly brilliant and conservative. Not as if they really cared about any issues anyways.

  • So basically, if you took any blog post from LGM, reversed its focus from pro-Obama to pro-Romney and tossed in a few three dollar words, you too could mock Will?

    • Jameson Quinn

      And if you changed the syntax. And scrubbed out any relation to reality, and replaced it a few right-wing dogwhistles of various sorts. In short, if you completely changed every word except “the”, they’d be indistinguishable!

      • Jameson Quinn

        And if you added any missing words like “with” to comments, they might appear intelligent.

  • Snarki, child of Loki

    I look forward to our bright, new, future, when rightwing blowhard pundits such as Will and Brooks can be 95% simulated by computer, followed minor edits outsourced to Bangalore.

    We already know that Tom Friedman’s columns are written by connecting a PC voice-recognition program to a radio scanner that is tuned to taxi-dispatch frequencies.

    This will greatly reduce the cost of generating newspaper content, and perhaps keep print media alive for another six months.

  • Walt

    Okay, Paul, that was a work of genius. What made me fall for it was the bit about “The only ground rule was that references to baseball and Edmund Burke were strictly prohibited.” If you were going to have a George Will parody contest, you’d probably really want that rule so as to make it not too easy, right?

  • Jameson Quinn

    Let the contest for third place begin.

    As they sip their dark, mephitic libations during this portentious final week, this republic’s gauchiste faction may be feeling a frisson of impending Schadenfreude. After all, their high-voiced prophet (or prophetess?), Nate Silver, has assured them that victory is inevitable for their swarthy avatar, Barack Obama. Yet here are a few facts that should give them pause ere they spend their generous food stamps on the hors d’ouvres for their anticipated victorious bachannals:

    • Jameson Quinn

      grr, I messed up the closing tags again. Hey, wait a minute… what are those little buttons doing above this text box…

      Wow, I feel dumb.

      • Jameson Quinn

        And I didn’t even get the French spelling for orderves right. No Triumph of the Will for me.

        • Jameson Quinn

          But I am proud of the fact I capitalized Schadenfreude. My stepfather-in-law’s gift of Rosetta Stone German lessons to my daughter is already paying off!

          • Gus

            And the writing is a lot like Will’s I don’t know if you should be proud or ashamed of that.

            • cpinva

              pretty darn close, and a really tough call. tell you what, be proud of it, and we’ll just keep it amongst ourselves, so you won’t be embarrassed in public.

              ah, who am i kidding, we’re going to plaster this all over the net, with huge, blinking arrows pointed at your name. possibly even email it to your family.

    • Karen

      Oh please, for the love of humanity, say that’s not real.

      • Jameson Quinn

        Of course not. In reality, Will only said that Silver had assured us that victory was “nigh” inevitable. And I added the “prophetess” bit.

        Also, when I fished it out of his trash, there was a bit of a stain where I have “swarthy” (I would suspect coffee, if I didn’t know better). So it may in fact be “strapping” or some other “s” word.

        But other than that, my hand to God, it is the gospel truth.

  • Joel Dan Walls

    Anyone seriously trying to parody George Will would have mentioned Thucydides and the Peloponnesian Wars.

    • sharculese

      I’ll admit to being underleveled on my Will-lore, but isn’t this more Victor Davis Hansen’s shtick?

      • Anonymous

        G. F. Will is a V. D. Hansen who does not actually understand Latin or Greek.

        • More that he cheated on the tests.

          Probably copied off VDH in exchange for his dating tips

        • Timb

          After reading Hansen’s books and commentary, I would argue that the guy who argues Sparta and Alexander the Great we’re morally bankrupt, despicable historical actors and then roots for the invasion of Iran and Iraq, might not understand Greek or Latin (history) either

          • Cody

            If Alexander the Great was bringing American Justice to the rest of the world, he would also be Justified like us.

  • jim

    Republicans are going to steal this election through massive voter fraud and sketchy electronic voting machines–and Democrats, as usual, will lay down and be rolled over just like the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004.

    May as well vote your conscience–vote Jill Stein.

    • thusbloggedanderson

      So why didn’t they steal 2008?

      • jim


        1) They didn’t control enough state legislatures and governor’s mansions in enough swing states. Now they do. Ohio, Florida, Virginia? All Republican governors, and wingnut legislatures.

        2) The election wasn’t close enough to steal. This one is. Just like in 2000 and 2004, they’re going to win this through theft and Democrats will roll over and take it just like Gore and Kerry.

        It’s in the bag. That’s why the GOP is so loudly confident.

        • Jameson Quinn

          I actually believe that this is a reasonable fear (not so much at the presidential level, as at the Congressional one.. but still). But what is entirely unreasonable is to believe that more than a handful of people explicitly know about any serious plan for fraud, and more than a few handfuls have any justified reason to suspect a specific plot.

        • This election is nowhere near close enough to steal. You’re buying the conventional horse race nonsense.

          • John

            The national polls are certainly very close.

            • cpinva

              if the national polls mattered, i might be concerned. they don’t, and i’m not.

              The national polls are certainly very close.

              what does matter are the state polls. again, i’m not concerned.

            • The national polls are wrong. I think the right wing has successfully worked the ref in the media and the media has two sets of numbers: one they publish, the other they imply in the reporting day to day.

              I look at it this way: the most important polls are the ones we aren’t seeing: the internal polls that dictate which candidate is putting what money and where.

              Mitt’s only hope is to either win Ohio or sweep PA, MI, and IA, so riddle me why Romney pulled his operation out of Pennsylvania two weeks ago, leaving only token staff in there?

              Further, my suspicion is the popular vote is going to skew heavily for Obama, especially if we’re looking at tracking polls. Those tracking polls are missing large blocs of their targeted voters after Sandy and the blizzards.

              The race is closer than I would have judged two weeks ago, but then I had Obama up by about nine or so in the pop vote and pulling over 300 EVs. I think he still pulls the 300 EVs, but the popular vote will be a bit lower for him.

        • spencer

          Now they do. Ohio, Florida, Virginia? All Republican governors, and wingnut legislatures.

          Florida’s last Democratic governor left office in January 1999.

          The last time Florida’s legislature was *not* controlled by the Republicans was 1992.

          So, um, whatever.

    • mpowell

      This is awesome.

      • commie atheist

        Agree. “Obama’s going to lose through voter fraud anyway, so you may as well vote your conscience!” Is Lemieux still updating that list of hackish reasons to vote third party?

    • Wendell

      Why steal the election on the back end when voter suppression on the front end is 95% as effective and much cheaper?

      Seriously, a back end fix is harder to coordinate, and much more obviously illegal than the voter suppression hijinks they are already pulling on the front end. They aren’t going to steal the election, they are just going to try and make sure that only the right sort of people are voting.

      • jim

        I agree most of it will be front end, but plenty of back end hijix too. Republicans are confident because they’re going to steal this thing (for the third time).

  • markg

    Questions: If you asked someone to identify someone smoldering with resentment at Obama’s reelection effort, would any reasonable person, as opposed to a Republican hack, select Obama as the answer over, say, every Republican in the world? would any reasonable person, as opposed to a Republican hack, use the words “frenetic” and “bilious” to describe Obama’s campaign? Can any reasonable person, as opposed to a Republican hack, read Will’s commentary without laughing at its ridiculousness.

  • rm

    Dude, I wrote that column. Like “Franklin W. Dixon” and “Erin Hunter,” “George Will” is actually the PR face of an ever-changing cast of ghostwriters. We are managed by a team of editors and producers at the Heritage Foundation.

    I do appreciate the recognition. If I may be so immodest, I think I do “George Will” better than anyone on the current team. Not that any of us measure up to the legendary Philip Q. Snodgrass who wrote most of the columns in the ’70s and ’80s. The current actor is pretty good, but I don’t think holds a candle to the actor who held the role during the Elder Bush and Clinton administrations. (We are not allowed to know their names — I do wonder what happened to the retired ones).

    Please don’t copy this post anywhere, especially on the internet. I really don’t want to lose this gig.

    • Julian

      I had hoped that “George Will” was a pseudonym like “James Bond,” passed from one blowhard to another as part of a top secret pandering program.

    • Julian

      I had hoped that “George Will” was a pseudonym like “James Bond,” passed from one blowhard to another as part of a top secret pandering program.

      • Alan in SF

        My question is, is it the same bow tie, or do they make you buy your own?

        • Bill Murray

          They have a deadly gadget maker that makes the ties. You can get them in acid spraying, tasering and elevator farting varieties

      • Hogan

        I am the Dwead Piwate Wiw! Theah wiw be no soovivahs!

  • Alan in SF

    Living proof that you can’t make this shit up.

  • Amit Joshi

    So, if Will’s own spewage is the second-place entry, should we expect something better as the top entry? In a day or two, perhaps?

    Don’t tease us! You’ve raised hopes, now deliver! :)

    • Jameson Quinn

      I think it’s up to us. My entry is above, but I’m sure others can do better.

  • pete

    Steve M has uncovered the entertaining fact that Will used the phrase “energetic in body but indolent in mind” to describe Bush père in 1992 and, before that, Dan Quayle, in 1988. This presumably demonstrates that Will is not necessarily a racist even if he is a doddering old bore who repeats himself.

    • Hogan

      And he probably stole it from Gibbon’s description of some short-lived Roman emperor/sybarite.

      • Paul Campos

        Good call!

        “It had hitherto been the peculiar felicity of the Romans, and in the worst of times the consolation, that the virtue of the emperors was active, and their vice indolent.”

        Decline and Fall, Vol. I Ch. 6

        • Jameson Quinn

          Holy crap. The facile quip struck home. Is it a new facet of Poe’s Law?

    • NonyNony

      A tedious idiot AND a self-plagiarist. Nice.

    • Cody

      Does that mean it’s a complement, I’m assuming he supported Dan Quayle and George Bush?

    • Rob in Buffalo

      So Will lazily trotted out a pet phrase — in order to accuse the Prez of being “indolent of mind”. Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes, as my brother used to say.

  • Steve LaBonne

    On any scale on which Barack Obama is indolent in mind, George Will is anencehpalic.

  • cpinva

    this is horribly, horribly unfair! i work all day, by the time i’m able to come here, all the good snark’s taken!

  • I would love to meet the presidential candidates with low self-esteem. They must be a small and interesting lot.

    What’s that? You say that doesn’t exist? It’s not a thing? George Will is a huge gasbag and drama king? Oh.

  • Uncle Ebeneezer

    Why is it that if a liberal columnist constantly tried to draw attention to his/her extensive vocabulary it would be elitist and evidence of their ability to connect with Real America ™ but when George Will does it, it is a mark of his intellect?

    Speaking of vocabulary and self-parody, when will the Miller&Will (Make Your Friends Think You’re Smart) Thesaurus be available?

    • Uncle Ebeneezer

      “inability” I meant

    • cpinva

      why is it if harvard educated, vietnam war veteran, scion of a wealthy, politically successful family runs as a democrat, he’s accused of being an elitest, east coast, unpatriotic snob? but, if a yale/harvard educated, draft-dodging, alcoholic scion of a wealthy, politically successful family runs as a republican, he’s a super patriotic american, that average guys want to have a beer with?

      you see how that works?

  • njorl

    At this moment, I’d like to give thanks that Robert Novak has not actually risen from the dead to wreak his vengeance upon this world – vengeance via punditry.

  • Dirk Gently

    Maybe we should just do a teabagger translation of every Will column, starting with the section Professor Campos excised:

    “That stupid nigger campaigned on hope and change, and yet he’s racing around the country like an escaped slave, running the nastiest campaign in history, to distract people from how bad he done. He hasn’t done jack shit, and now this uppity, condescending nigger wants us to vote for him!” [spits]

    BTW, and I’m not kidding, isn’t it George Will who describes George Foreman as something like “the epitome of negritude” in “When We Were Kings”?

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