Every time I think Frank Rich couldn’t possibly write a more shallow column, he (with apologies to Seinfeld) takes a little more water out of the pool.
Today he expelled this gem:
…when Tom Coburn of Oklahoma merrily joked to Sotomayor that “You’ll have lots of ’splainin’ to do,” it clearly didn’t occur to him that such mindless condescension helps explain why the fastest-growing demographic group in the nation is bolting his party.
Coburn wouldn’t know that behind the fictional caricature Ricky Ricardo was the innovative and brilliant Cuban-American show-business mogul Desi Arnaz. As Lucie Arnaz, his and Lucille Ball’s daughter, told me last week, it always seemed unfair to her that those laughing at her father’s English usually lacked his fluency in two languages. Then again, Coburn was so unfamiliar with Jews he didn’t have a clear fix on what happened in the Holocaust until 1997, when he was 48. Party elders like Bill Bennett had to school him after he angrily berated NBC for subjecting children and “decent-minded individuals everywhere” to the violence, “full-frontal nudity and irresponsible sexual activity” of “Schindler’s List.”…
With all due respect to Lucy and Desi’s kids, they seem to have forgotten that making fun of Ricky’s Cuban accent, along with Lucy’s harebrained schemes, was I Love Lucy’s main running joke, a joke which Desi Arnaz mlked for every laugh he could get.
I also remember reading long ago that Desi’s term of endearment for his sometimes buddy Frank Sinatra was “Dago” and that he and Sinatra had a public falling out over Desi’s hit TV show The Untouchables, which some Italians found very offensive.
As far as Tom Coburn’s alleged anti-Semitism, I once again refer to Seinfeld. You probably remember the episode where Jerry couldn’t get “make-out” time with his girlfriend because his parents were staying in his apartment and thus he had to go to the movies with his girlfriend to get some relief. Unfortunately, Newman attended the same showing of Schindler’s List and told Jerry’s mother who uttered the famous line: “You made-out during Schindler’s List?!!!”
Some Jews consider Schindler’s List a great movie. And some Jews consider those, like me, who aren’t sufficiently in awe of Schindler’s List to be sacrilegious. Like Coburn, I didn’t see why NBC had to suspend its usual decency standards (such as they are) for Schindler’s List either.
Sorry Frank, Schindler’s List isn’t a sacred document and dissing it doesn’t qualify as prejudice.