Let’s Go To the Skepticam – 9/30/2000

The mantra of Stephen Brill’s magazine is “Skepticism is a virtue.” His skepticism has a smugness about it that always prompts me to pronounce “Brill’s Content” with an accent on the last syllable.

I know a thing or two about skepticism. I feel like I have a big camera mounted on my head that inputs everyday information and produces a sneering readout of “Oh yeah, right.” Lately, my Skepticam has been on overdrive. My scalp is on fire. The chin strap is chafing.

The Pope gets ready for his personal end time, the big dirt nap, and makes an art of apology as propaganda. Mea culpa is youra culpa. I checked his list twice, and midst timely apologies for the Inquisition, fuzzy apologies for foot-dragging on the Holocaust, and sorries for any part the Church might have had in the oppression of women, still no apologies for fashion gaffes, bingo, or 2,000 years of pedophilia, a.k.a. “Touched by an Archbishop”. I’ve given up looking for a changed position on homosexuals, though I confess to a small feathered hope for Fatima’s secret number three.

Watching the funeral of John Cardinal O’Connor reminded me of watching the funeral of Richard President Nixon. Who were they eulogizing? The standing O for the Cardinal’s opposition to abortion swept the church from back to front and finally lifted the assembled pols in the front two rows. My heart sank. I flicked the channel to “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

Rudy’s Rehab almost blew a fuse on the old Skepticam. He said he was leaving the New York Senate race to deal with his health, and then he got all introspective and existential. This won over the Commentariat, but not me. The pundits also fell for it when Rudy said he was stunned that some New Yorkers hadn’t benefited from the city’s largesse and that he was going to have to look to see what part he might have had in that. He won’t have to look too hard. And when he said he wanted to devote more time to being mayor, I felt as chilled as the Hatches when Orrin quit his Presidential race to spend more time with the family.

The trusty Skepticam also recorded the nonsense about how granting China permanent normal trade relations will somehow usher in democracy. Skeptic picked up businesspeople saying that the capital of China is now Ka-ching.

But my Skepticam finally shorted out over fanatical Hillary-Hating women. I was at a dinner in Boston honoring Lois Pines, a woman who has been active in feminist politics and women’s health issues for years, and I started chatting with her eighty-eight-year-old mother. She told me her memories of Eleanor Roosevelt, and when I asked her why she thought some women hated Hillary so much, she didn’t hesitate: “They’re just jealous,” she said.

I wish I had her perspective – or my father’s serene detachment. He’s eighty-nine and had to have a procedure to correct some personal plumbing. Without even calling a press conference about it, he went into the hospital. He was given some Demerol for the post-op pain, and it made him hallucinate.

Knowing me, I would have imagined the horrific specter of George W., fronted by Henry Kissinger, talking about his nuclear disarmament “ideas.” Or I would have conjured up Charlatan Heston, in his Y toupee, catatonically mouthing something about his cold, dead fist while brandishing a rifle. No wait. Those are true.

As for my father, he said he saw butterflies.

Kate “My Skepticam needs decommissioning” Clinton.