"We must be careful about what we pretend to be"
Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night
In the brilliant 1987 James Brooks film, "Broadcast News," news director,
Paul Moore (Peter Hackes), tells his producer, Jane Craig (Holly Hunter)
that, "It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think
you're the smartest person in the room," to which Craig bemoans, "No.
That the Craig character so sincerely believes she is "the smartest person in the room" and sees it as an exhausting burden, might give some insight as to what seems to be a burgeoning 21st century pandemic that’s spreading throughout politics, entertainment and - sigh - this column. In fact, it just might be infecting your very house - if you have a teenager growing there.
SPIRD once resided largely in neighborhood bars, infecting anyone who had moved past a third beer. But today, it appears to afflict every facet of our society.
It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle, politicians always know better.
You can’t be a successful radio talk show host without SPIRD.
Rosie O’Donnell’s View-undo was more a result of SPIRD than contract disagreement.
It’s a baffling psychosomatic disorder, as being the smartest person in the room doesn’t mean that you’re actually the smartest person in the room. Only that you believe you are. It’s not so much about being smart as much as feeling you’re always right. Immune to the challenge of facts.
SPIRD symptoms include, but are not limited to: thinking you should know all the answers, thinking you have all the answers, bulging forehead blood vessels, shouting down the opposition and an impulsive need to demonize or ruin your adversary.
Speaking of Bill O’Reilly.
The No-Spinster may be the ultimate SPIRD. He not only admits that he knows what’s best, but he uses it to look out for you. And it’s not like he shouts down everyone. He is quick to praise others. ‘Course those being the ones who agree with him - another earmark of someone smitten
I oftened referred to my one short-lived radio program as the "I Stand Corrected Show." You could change my mind at the drop of an fact. Perhaps a good reason for my present lack of radio employment today.
This past week, Presidential candidate, John McCain, who had been out of the room for months campaigning, told a senatorial colleague that he (McCain) knew more about the pending Immigration issue than anyone in the room. He punctuated it with one of a SPIRD’s most trusty summations,
especially when debating a fellow SPIRD: f@#! you.
Some might consider SPIRD a virtue, one we would desire in our leaders; a confidence or conviction that stands up against coercion or evil. Problem is that SPIRD is not grounded in integrity as much as ego; being right despite pounds of information that reveals huge holes in your logic and/or beliefs.
President Bush has long said that he would "stay the course" even if only Laura and Barney were with him. And now, if the polls are correct, even Barney is beginning to question that course, but it won’t change his mind. Sadly, this President’s SPIRD is terminal.
Fact is, having SPIRD is not about being smart at all. It’s built out of the need to win above all else. Winning becomes more important than being right even though that type of winning many times carries with it the burden of being less right than whomever you feel you’ve defeated. And
that isn’t winning at all.