Jack Bass and
Marilyn W. Thompson
(Longstreet)These things should be declared a public nuisance. Oh, not Strom Thurmond --- he's been a public nuisance for longer than anyone can believe. No, we're talking about these dump truck bios like Ol' Strom. Terrible type, terrible binding, ill-conceived, ill-designed, ill-put-together --- an altogether vile union, written in a style that would have flunked you out of Clemson Junior College's freshman writing program. Listen:
Grant, who remained in the South, served as mayor of Charlotte, and lost two close races for the U. S. Senate to Jesse Helms, said at Clemson, "If you can't appeal to the morals of a South Carolinian, you can always appeal to his manners."
After Jean had sat in her room typing a speech while the governor and a bachelor aide escorted the attractive daughters of Gov. Earl Warren of California to a rodeo, she teased him the next day about his date.
In Columbia, the western wall of the granite State House still bears ten brass stars to mark where it was struck by small cannon balls fired from across the Congaree River by General William Tecumseh Sherman's artillery, which pounded the city where the initial Ordinance of Secession (written by an Edgefield lawyer) was signed after Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860.
Or, our favorite of all:
He may well have shared the views of Mississippi's James O. Eastland, who sat for ten years in front of John Kennedy.
Can you imagine what Eastland and Kennedy said to each other during the decade they sat glaring at each other?
Mind you, we've dug up but four examples (out of 345 pages) of a book chock-a-block full of these howlers. The puff page tells us that Marilyn has worked for the Philadelphia Daily News and the Washington Post, and that Jack has written five non-fiction books and won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. How? And why? Are we to suppose that Cox newspapers, responsible for this stool, forbid them access to copy editors --- or at least someone who could move words around on the page with sense and reason?
Why the hell don't they admit the truth? Strom Thurmond, never very big in the brain department, succumbed to uncontrolled priapism fifteen years ago. His Senate staff, eager to hang onto his committee chairmanships, stuffed him and hung him in the corner, complete with electronic doo-dads to make him stand up, smile, and jerk around a bit. He --- or what's left of his brain --- wrote this biography: it's his farewell address.
As with all self-serving flack pieces, Ol' Strom is heavy on facts stuffed in there willy-nilly, throw-aways in the Christmas stocking. It promises much in the scandal department but delivers little, even ends up making Thurmond sound like a 20th century Robert E. Lee, complete with hearing aid, orange hair-plugs, and an army of loving beauty queens. We hope that Bass and Thompson were rewarded heartily for lending their names this travesty, and to what's left of the good Senator. Since he is far beyond caring --- or even knowing --- none will be the loser.
Except the poor reviewer who has to plow through a TV beef-&-gravy dinner of dangling participles, inchoate phrasings, misplaced gerundives, and what our beloved Strunk and White would call WW! (Wrong Words) Where are the authors of The Elements of Style now, when we need them so?
--- R. R. Doister
Cartoon by Doug Marlette
©The Charlotte Observer