Color me confused.
I was listening last night on the car radio to one of those ultra-right wing propaganda radio shows, Savage Nation. The host, Michael Savage, was ranting as usual about our “radical” president, Barrack Obama. In so doing, he brought up a short novel of Mark Twain’s called “Pudd’nhead Wilson.” That’s when I lost the thread.
Savage began describing, even reading from, one of the scenes in the book’s first chapter. It was the part about “half” the dog.
David Wilson, a young lawyer from New York, had just arrived in the small Mississippi River town of Dawson’s Landing, “a slaveholding town” somewhere south of St. Louis, Twain wrote.
In a joke to locals about the howling, unseen animal, Wilson said he wished he owned half of that dog. In that case, he would kill his half. That threw the locals for a loop. How could you kill half a dog without killing all of it? After long debate, they decided Wilson was a fool and began to call him Pudd’nhead. Savage’s take was that Obama was like Wilson. “Pudd’nhead Obama,” Savage said. Or a fool.
But why would Savage say that? By the end of the book, Wilson is vindicated and it was proven the locals were the pudd’nheads, not he. Why then would Savage in essence compliment Obama as being a purveyor of anything good?
It is possible Savage and his staff had never read the book and did not know how it ended. But it is also possible, maybe even probable, that they had and lifted only part of the story to fit what Savage wanted to say. Why? Perhaps to say, see, even a famous author like Twain thinks as we do, that “outsiders” like Obama are bad for America. Confusing, I admit.
And to pick a book like `Pudd’nhead Wilson’ that is clearly an indictment of slavery and the harm it did to all, whites and blacks alike? It goes against my understanding of what the loony right wing is all about. It goes against what I think they want. An all-white society. Revolution. Secession from the union. Another Civil War.
What Savage does, what Limbaugh and Hannity do too, is called propaganda. They do it like Pravda and TASS did it. Smoke and mirrors. A little fact here, a little fact there. But in toto, a huge lie.
Anyway, what I’m wondering is this. Could it be, if we’re extrapolating modern characters from Twain’s fictitious ones, could the invisible dog that, as Twain put it, “began to yelp and snarl and howl and make himself very comprehensively disagreeable,” could that dog be seen as Michael Savage?