If you’d like to read “The Quiet Ones, Part 7 ,” click on the title.
In the early days of cable news Jean was a frequent guest commentator. She never had her
own show though, and that was a bit of a thorn in her side.
She had thrown herself into her work after Will’s death, as many people do in similar
situations. When fate blows a hole in your world, it’s natural to fill it up with whatever
you can as quickly as possible. It beats having to look into the void day after day.
That strategy worked for over a decade. Then the cable news channels stopped calling.
The world was becoming all too politically correct, and her unfiltered style made the
producers nervous. It was no longer amusing when she called the Speaker of the House
“honey,” and sometimes she forgot to use the current PC nomenclature for people of
“Why do they want to be called black?” she wondered. African American sounds so
much more dignified. Brillo pads are black, and cast iron pans, and horseshoes. She’d
never met a human in her life who was black.
As she aged, her private thoughts began to leak involuntarily from her mind to her mouth.
The wall between what she wanted to say and what she knew she shouldn’t warped like
an image in a fun house mirror, and some polemic sentiments crossed over.
She publicly questioned whether all American citizens really were intelligent and
educated enough to vote (she was referring to a group of white conservative extremists
from East Texas at the time, but her intentions were misconstrued).
When asked about the latest Senatorial cheating scandal, she declared that powerful men
couldn’t really expect to be faithful, and it was nobody’s business (oh, for the Kennedy
years, when people were secretly pleased that their president was potent enough to seduce
Her sometimes shocking assertions did get ratings, though, so they were overlooked for a
time. Ultimately the death knell of her career as a TV commentator wasn’t the
“inappropriate” things she said, but the old fashioned ones. The public would happily
indulge aggressive, extreme and even dangerous opinions, but there was zero tolerance
for failing to keep up with the times.
“Dahlin’ you really need to lose the pink shirt, and dress like a man,” she’d advised a
House member during a discussion about Congress’ abysmal approval ratings on CNN.
“The voters would like you better if you looked more like you were ready to storm the beach at
Normandy, and less like you were trying out for the Bolshoi Ballet.”
Silence, then an uncomfortable chuckle. When the conversation resumed she was effectively shut out of it by the moderator, and she never received an invitation to join them again. Jean resented that. The concept of the metro sexual male was lost on her, but so what? She couldn’t understand how her failure to grasp the nuances of modern fashion disqualified her to render an opinion on political issues.
At about the same time the invitations to speak at major conferences and college
graduations dried up. No one wanted to interview her about her life any more, and they
actively avoided questioning her about current affairs.
She was still a national treasure, but her relevance had diminished. Like a precious family
heirloom, the young ones brought her out on special occasions to remind them of where they came
from. They said “now now” when she tried to share her wisdom with them and, they were exceedingly careful not to give her a chance to tarnish their image of her.
What they choose to remember of her had become more real than who she was. She had become a
If you’d like to read “The Quiet Ones, Part 9,” click the title
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