(Yesterday's excellent Charlie Pierce piece, coupled with today's Boston Herald and Politico embarrassments, inspired me to republish this short, first published here in 2010.)
America's number one talk show host was already in a foul mood that morning. He had noticed a small scrape on the door of his Hummer after the valet brought it around. Adding to his trauma, traffic to the studio was a real bitch.
Maybe that was why on this day (as opposed to any other) he was particularly sharp-tongued, inspiring some of his thirty million or so listeners to action.
During the first hour, he said he believed Muslims in America were a fifth-column bent on our destruction. When a caller suggested we try to befriend them, the host countered, “I have a different idea. You want to befriend them. I want to kill them.”
In a sweaty apartment outside Newark, listener Joe Sikes thought that was a splendid idea. There was a Muslim temple just down the street. It was almost time for afternoon prayers. The place would be crowded.
Returning from a break, the host warned it would soon be impossible to buy guns. “They're going to take our guns away, just like the Nazis did!” He went on to remind his listeners that German citizens who refused to surrender their guns were murdered in their homes by jack-booted thugs.
An unemployed laborer outside Philadelphia named Scott Foster wasn't going to let that happen. In fact, he'd seen a motorcycle cop just the other day whose boots were polished to a fine sheen. Would he be the one who tried to take his guns? From my cold dead hands, he thought.
Gathering his guns and ammunition, he overturned the dining room table and made himself a hidey-hole. He then put on his bulletproof vest and killed his mother before calling 911.
In the second hour, the subject of abortion came up. The host railed against “baby killers” and not for the first time mentioned one doctor by name and the place where he worked
That was all listener Phil Hastings needed to hear. The doctor was just a few towns away.
In the third hour, the host questioned the president's eligibility for office.
“He's not even a citizen! He has no right to be president!”
In a long hallway outside the kitchen of a D.C. ballroom, police officer James Casey was listening too. One of the cooks had the radio playing softly.
In between the applause and laughter and the din of clinking glasses, he caught himself nodding when the host said he no longer recognized the country that he loved.
“This country is being taken away from us! Right before our eyes! And this president is responsible!”
A roar of applause came from the ballroom. Even before it crested there was movement down the hallway. Men with earpieces and bulges prepared for the VIP to exit the ballroom.
As the talk show host continued assailing the president, the cop realized there was nothing he could do about him. But the woman he loved had just come out the door.
(All quotes are verbatim. All incidents but the last are true.)