On or about April 1 of every year, I release my list of Haney Awards. These are named for Pat Buttram’s character from “Green Acres,” who, as I put it in last year’s column, “was the wheedling, whining, always manipulative entrepreneur of misfortune” on that program, and to me at least, the most objectionable presence on the small screen. I wanted the show cancelled just to be rid of Mr. Haney.
The Haneys are intended to reverse the effects of MacArthur Fellowships. The MacArthur Fellowships dump bunches of dollars on so-called “geniuses” to encourage them to keep doing what they have been doing. The Haneys, should we ever find funding, will try and bribe awardees to take the money and go away.
I hear every year from quite a few Haneys far and wide that they are mildly miffed by this title. To the productive and proud Haney clan, my apologies, especially to those Haneys in uniform – I count one as a friend. But I didn’t name the character, the writers did. With that aside, to the 2003, wartime edition of the Haneys.
Unfortunately, the last peacetime Haneys had little effect, and many of last year’s winners did not go away. They include Michael Moore, Sandy Berger, Joe Biden and Pat Leahy. One of them, Bill Maher, did go away, and given the ratings of his HBO show, it is possible to conclude he is still gone away.
These are repeat winners – the first ever. In fact, I think it is safe to give Moore a lifetime achievement award and be done with it. He will never go away and he will never matter, so he is no longer eligible for future Haneys.
New winners for 2003:
Retired Gen. Wesley Clark: This is CNN’s quagmire. The producers must know that Clark is killing their audience with second-guessing that adds up to a vice-presidential run.
Peter Arnett: We thought he was gone, but a London newspaper got to him before his career cooled to room temp. After the war, he will be reduced to teaching at Columbia but, with a Haney, perhaps he really will retire to New Zealand.
Charles Rangel: Bill Bennett once labeled Congressman Rangel a gasbag. Not even his friends denied it.
Barbara Boxer, Harry Reid, Tom Daschle and Chuck Schumer: Imagine waking up the day after the elections of 2004 to greet not only a re-elected W but the enforced retirement of this quartet of vulnerable incumbents. There is still time for each of them to announce their retirements in 2003. The Haneys are all about dreaming.
Paul Krugman: I admit to reading his column for glimpses into the mind of the deranged, so I am conflicted about this award. On the other hand, some people don’t realize he’s mad as a hatter, so I think it is best that he go.
Janine Garofalo: Robin Williams is a pain-in-the-neck on the war and the president, but at least he’s funny.
And, finally, Howard Dean: Vermont has less than 700,000 people, for goodness sake, and they are all white with healthy 401Ks. Who is this guy kidding? Every single congressman in D.C. has a better resume to be president than this fellow.
There: 10 new winners, a handful of back-to-backers and one lifetime achievement award. You have to admit, the country would be much better off if these people were embedded in obscurity for the duration of the conflict and beyond.