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Dick Cavett: yet another liberal dazzled by Petraeus’ shiny medals

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By See-Dubya  •  April 12, 2008 10:33 PM

{Post by See-Dubya}

There’s something about General Petraeus that brings out the most quotable in liberals. Most recently it was LA Times wine critic Matthew DeBord who must have been auditioning for a fashion column as he critiqued Petraeus’s uniform and, especially, his many tacky, tacky medals awarded for service to his country. Righteous indignation about that from Uncle Jimbo, hilarious sarcasm at Iowahawk. Take your pick.

That was yesterday. Today it’s talk show host Dick Cavett, who I’m glad to learn is still alive, getting all hot and bothered about General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker in the New York Times.

Petraeus commits a different assault on the listener. And on the language. In addition to his own pedantic delivery, there is his turgid vocabulary. It reminds you of Copspeak, a language spoken nowhere on earth except by cops and firemen when talking to “Eyewitness News.” Its rule: never use a short word where a longer one will do. It must be meant to convey some misguided sense of “learnedness” and “scholasticism” — possibly even that dread thing, “intellectualism” — to their talk. Sorry, I mean their “articulation.”

Yes indeedy, Dick, where does this Petraeus fellow get off pretending like he’s some sort of intellectual? Poor clod only has a Ph.D. in International Relations from Princeton University.

But clever Dick can’t resist the lure of those bright, shiny medals:

I can’t look at Petraeus — his uniform ornamented like a Christmas tree with honors, medals and ribbons — without thinking of the great Mort Sahl at the peak of his brilliance. He talked about meeting General Westmoreland in the Vietnam days. Mort, in a virtuoso display of his uncanny detailed knowledge — and memory — of such things, recited the lengthy list (”Distinguished Service Medal, Croix de Guerre with Chevron, Bronze Star, Pacific Campaign” and on and on), naming each of the half-acre of decorations, medals, ornaments, campaign ribbons and other fripperies festooning the general’s sternum in gaudy display. Finishing the detailed list, Mort observed, “Very impressive!” Adding, “If you’re twelve.”

But if you’re a grown-up New York Times reader, if you move in the elite circles that Dick does, then valor, patriotism, and service to your country are just a clever punchline.

Baldilocks zeroes in the artillery:

When you’re soon in that rest home, Mr. Cavett, you can spend your remaining days thinking about how you have wasted your life; something which better men than yourself–like General Petraeus and General Westmoreland (RIP)—will never have to do.

Ouch. But it’s true. Dick Cavett has led, by most measures, a successful life, and yet in spite of his success he’s now shown himself to be a petty, envious, and ungrateful little man.

Perhaps the saddest part is that all this effete sniping represents an improvement in the tone as compared with the last time the General testified before Congress.

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