OFFBEAT: Shame and satire

Strange to say, but I'm going to miss the Regurgitator. The unknown comic (well, some of us know who he is, and a few of my fellow n
Don Lee
May 24, 2010

Strange to say, but I'm going to miss the Regurgitator. The unknown comic (well, some of us know who he is, and a few of my fellow newsroom inmates thought it was me) who took jabs from his blogspot Web site at city and county institutions, including the Register, said he's hanging it up because, well, it doesn't seem as though anyone's listening -- or worse, enjoying the fact they get mentioned at all.

It's the old "I don't care what you print about me as long as you spell my name right" thing.

Time was, those who needed the spotlight lived or died on a favorable mention from some news or entertainment authority -- and if you ended up in a Johnny Carson monologue, it was all over.

But that depended on people knowing instinctively that some things are wrong, and satire was one way of reminding people where the line was.

When no one's ashamed of anything, the court jester's barbs lose their sting.

The Palin picture

Speaking of court jesters, I've been interested to see how the editorial cartooning fraternity -- and it is, with few exceptions, mostly guys at the drawing table -- handled the topic of Sarah Palin.

Women in politics should have long ago ceased to be a novelty -- it's 2008, for crying out loud -- but it was instructive, if not surprising, to see how the clown princes of the nation's newsrooms dealt with an attractive female in politics.

The first week or so was predictable; one got the impression some of the inkslingers required cold showers after completing a Palin picture. It's getting better, now that Palin's had a chance to open her mouth without McCain's handlers present and we can deal with what's in her brain.

One of the cartooning organizations on which I used to waste my money still bemoans the diminishing stature of the editorial cartoonist in the nation's newspapers. The first week of Sarah-palooza doesn't help our game when we go to our editors and give the usual speech about how the editorial cartoonist adds to the voice and personality of the local newspaper, offering a different dimension to readers' understanding of local issues and yadda yadda yadda.

I went looking for some Alaska perspectives and found Roger Maynard, who's gotten used to dealing with Palin as a politician and not a personality, in the Ketchikan Daily News. He pretty much draws about Alaska things for an Alaska audience, but take a look at his Web site for a different angle than we get in most of the Lower 48.

Poll position

Despite all five people in last week's Word on the Street preferring Obama, that John McCain could easily be president of our Web site. He had, as of late Saturday, 54 percent of the vote; Obama's not even close.

A couple readers called to our attention this discrepancy; all I'm going to say about that is that if you approach different groups of people, you get different answers. I admit I was hoping for some interesting observations from McCain backers, but I tell the person who handles the interviews for me to get the first five and stop, to avoid the appearance of looking for answers we like. There are a few places around here where we're likely to get a variety of answers -- and where they'll let us poll -- so we'll mix it up some.

One more thing: A loyal reader who hopes we can do better e-mailed us midweek to tell us Ron Paul's not on the ballot and has no business being part of last week's online results. Should've been Bob Barr's name there. My fault.

But I didn't change the poll midweek because people had already been voting and you shouldn't change the rules in mid-game. Make of it what you will that Paul still got 86 votes.