The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, May 08, 2002  

A Lucky Fool With Sharp Elbows

Don't head into Laura Ingraham's latest column -- "Ozzy Deified, Many Mortified, Drugs Glorified?" -- thinking you will find a trenchent dissection of the MTV phenomenon, "The Osbournes," and its star, Ozzy Osbourne. Instead, it's merely a jumble of observations from the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner, an essay Ingraham has made interesting only by unintentionally -- at least we think it was unintentionally -- slipping no less than three autobiographical references into her 500-word outburst.

Ingraham, in her own words "sounding like an old frump," was "slightly sickened" by what she saw at the dinner, an event at which we would have expected to see her ladling gravy or checking coats rather than sitting among the invitees. "While these events are always a bizarre, forced collision of East Coast meets West...this one took it all to a new level," writes Ingraham, subtly conveying to her readers that she's a regular at the annual event.

What sickened Ingraham was the confab's dizzy reaction to Ozzy Osbourne, former lead singer for 1970s hair band Black Sabbath, whose middle-aged domesticity -- a station in his life Osbourne surely cannot have foreseen -- is chronicled for public view Tuesday nights on MTV.

"Twenty -- even 10 -- years ago, conservatives were railing against ilk like Osbourne....His music inspired devil worship, bemoaned cultural conservatives and concerned parents," Ingraham writes. "Although such criticism was largely generational and overwrought..., the new-found adulation of Ozzy is far more ridiculous and misplaced," observes the conservative radio personality.

Ingraham obviously is no fan of Osbourne. (Nor are we, but the show is fascinating.) She concedes Ozzy can be "amusing," but nothing more: "Beyond that, he's a burned-out rocker, who can't go 30 seconds without slurring the f-word in his barely comprehensible thick Birmingham (England) accent."

"Oh yes, and he got lucky with a TV show," cracks Ingraham in the first of three astonishing -- and humiliating -- autobiographical slips.

In Ingraham's account of the evening, emcee Drew Carey and President Bush "elevate[d]" Osbourne during their remarks by acknowledging, with humor, his attendance at the dinner (something no one could have predicted a year ago) and renewed popularity as an aging suburbanite.

"Of course, President Bush didn't know Osbourne before his joke writer handed him Saturday's script, so the criticism might not be fair," observes Ingraham. Thus, Ingraham lectures: "Once again, we see the pitfalls of being out of touch with the culture -- when you try to look cool, you can look like a fool." Surely she hasn't forgotten about the leopard-print mini-skirt?

Ingraham's third autobiographical moment emerges when she notices that Osbourne was escorted around the dinner by "a short, 30-something officious-looking handler with sharp elbows," a characterization that not only uncannily resembles Ingraham at work but also suggests the punditress was on the receiving end of a hard jab to the ribs.

The rest of Ingraham's piece is a collection of insults, disparagements, and disgust. With her concluding lament -- "Perhaps this is all part of the 'new tone in Washington'?" -- Ingraham proves just one thing: She doesn't get the joke.

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