Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash, Vol. X: Indecent proposals, faux Frenchmen and VAT-paying Teabaggers

Matt Labash Columnist
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Have a burning sensation? Consult your doctor. Have a burning question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.

Where do all the questions you don’t answer go? — Rocco

As contributors of questions may have noticed, I don’t answer every question right away. Which doesn’t mean that questions that have not been used thus far don’t remain eligible for answering. (Pinch yourselves.) So by all means, ask as many as you’d like. I honestly hold on to every last question, waiting for some of them to mature like a fine Bordeaux, at which time I use them as necessity or inspiration dictate, often months after they’re received. Sometimes, I just put all the questions in a big pile on the mattress and roll around on them naked, a la Demi Moore on a bed of cash in “Indecent Proposal.” This makes me feel closer to readers, even though it’s hell on my keyboard.

Generally speaking, however, I keep copies of all unanswered questions in two places:

  1. In my secure Ask Matt Labash box, which only I have a high enough security clearance to access.
  2. In my heart, where Jesus lives in a duplex next to Oprah Winfrey—the only woman I’ve ever truly loved.

Matt, you are pretty good at

  1. Celebrating weirdos
  2. Deriding normal people.

My question: is there anyone in politics that you’ve met that isn’t part of the lunatic fringe that you like/admire? Incidentally, your answer will provide great insight into your own warped personality. Thanks. — Ricardeau

Allow me to answer your question with a question of my own, Ricardeau. These “weirdos,” you speak of—are they weird, or are they just weird to you? As the poet Jim Morrison said in one of the few lucid moments he had between wearing impossibly tight pants and tilting sideways a lot, “People are strange, when you’re a stranger.” (Emphasis mine).

What I’m about to say does not apply to all politicians—just 95 percent of them or so. But to me, there is nothing weirder than otherwise well-adjusted, perfectly normal people subjecting themselves to the indignities and artifice of the modern political process. Here, they spend their days begging for the money and approval of total strangers, and the bulk of their lives doing whatever possible to avoid communicating like any sort of recognizable human being, for fear that if they let their true selves bleed through, they will be seen as eccentric or aberrant or unpalatable by the voters who constantly complain of phony politicians, but who reinforce such phoniness by repeatedly voting for those who best perpetuate the hedges, euphemisms, and platitudes that are the lingua franca of these frequently ridiculous charades. So if you think subscribing to this process is behavior befitting a normal person—then yes, please point me to the weirdos so I can celebrate them.

For what does it mean to be a “normal” person, Ricardeau? It means that real behavior, i.e. “weird” behavior, is allowed to flourish. It means that all people are at heart a collection of idiosyncrasies: of tics and vanities and fears and bad habits and aspirations and affectations, such as calling yourself by the exotic “Ricardeau,” when your real name is most likely just plain, vanilla “Rick.” Some would think that’s weird. I don’t. I think it’s a window on your soul. That behind your purported conformity—this desire you have to be seen as “normal”—is a man trying to spice up his quiet life of desperation. That rather than just passively succumbing to the numbing suburban swirl of peewee soccer games and spreading the Scotts Turf Builder evenly over your fescue, you yearn to be something more than Rick. You yearn to be “Ricardeau.” So be him. Wear a beret. Walk around your local Costco with a baguette poking out of your shopping bag. Smoke like you’re Jean-Paul Belmondo. Live your fourscore-and-ten (I’m being an optimist) to the hilt. Because whatever your poison—weirdo or normal—we are all term-limited in the end.

I believe that I have been unclear about critical legislation concerning health care. How can I gently crush the American people’s spirit in my next speech, as I want to come clean about the nature of this recent legislative “progress”? — Barack H. Obama

Great. Thanks for writing in, racist. Maybe your little minstrel show gets a lot of chuckles with the Lee Greenwood-singing troglodytes down at the TeaBaggery. But I know the sound of my master’s voice, and this isn’t it. I don’t know what your real name is (George Wallace? Theodore Bilbo? Bull Connor?) But, let me give you a picture of the future, so you have plenty of time to stock up on venison jerky, ammunition, and Git-R-Done bumper stickers.

Now that my Christ, as I call the real Obama, has the wind at his back with health care passed and unemployment whittled down to a near non-existent 10 percent, there’s probably going to be some changes around here. Do you like Sweden? I hope you do, because we’re about to become a lot more like it. Don’t panic, provincial xenophobe. Sweden is a really nice place. Elin Nordegren is Swedish, and she’s a living doll. (Even though she’s blissfully married to Tiger Woods, you’ll notice that she keeps fleeing their house to return to her homeland.) Anyway, if the administration’s recent trial-ballooning is any indication, soon, you should be expecting a value added tax to be levied on all your goods and services. What does that mean for you? Well, it means that all along the line of production for everything you buy, a tax will be added, with the final cost being passed on to you. So just taking one of your typical nights out as an example: matches—10 percent increase in price; wooden cross—10 percent increase in price; pointy white sheet—10 percent increase in price. And so on and so forth. Until everything costs you so much that you’ll be rendered inactive. All you’ll have the means to do is to stay home and watch Toby Keith music videos (assuming you can still afford cable). This is not a bad thing. Without so many distractions, maybe then you’ll finally have a moment to reflect on your intolerance.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is just published from Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.