Jewish World Review April 2, 2004/ 12 Nissan, 5764

Greg Crosby

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Martha's in the Pen — Now What? | Now that America's foremost home and garden expert has stopped serving dessert and will soon start serving time, everyone seems to be asking: "who will be the new Martha Stewart?" - to which I reply: "Huh?" Look, let's get a couple of things straight. First of all, Martha Stewart is still Martha Stewart. She's not dead and she hasn't been whisked away by alien space travelers who need her on the planet Zorkon to teach them her secrets of flower arranging. HEY! DON'T FREAK OUT, AMERICA - MARTHA IS STILL WITH US! She's just going to be in the slammer for awhile, that's all.

Having said that, I think I know what people mean when they say, "who will be the new Martha Stewart?" They mean, "who will help us with all our homemaking stuff while Martha is away showing Bonnie Jean Cornpone, Irma Lee Redneck and Prunella P. Hogg how to remove the tarnish from their homemade shivs.

The folks depended on Martha for everything from cooking, to gardening, to holiday decorating, to entertaining, to the proper clothes to dress dead Uncle Herman in for his burial. People want to be told the right things to do and for millions for Americans Martha was the person who told them. But now that she'll be going up the river, who will tell us which fork goes with which course, what is the best potting soil to use for African violets, and how do you make the best double-fudge chocolate cake? America needs a Martha Stewart on a daily basis to help with all the minutiae.

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So . who is going to be the new Martha Stewart? Well, let's explore some possibilities.

  • Oprah Winfrey: She has a good shot at the title; she has daily exposure, her own magazine, licensing agreements and millions of fans. However, in the final analysis, Oprah doesn't quite cut it. Martha showed people how to do stuff - Oprah shows people how to FEEL stuff.

  • Dr. Phil: Same problem as Oprah, times a hundred.

  • Emeril: He's certainly got the cooking thing down, but I don't know if he has the necessary gravitas when it comes to making homemade tinsel for the holiday tree, resurfacing the bathroom commode, or building a birdfeeder out of egg cartons.

  • Rosie O'Donnell: Might have been a contender once, but since she lost her magazine and television show she's kept a pretty low profile, oh, yeah - with the exception of her recent high-profile same-sex marriage in San Francisco - not exactly the best way to win the hearts and minds of Middle American moms.

  • Janet Jackson:, let's not even go there.

  • Katie Couric: Katie has the national exposure that's needed to be the new Martha with her daily Today Show in the mornings and . well, not much else I guess. In the kitchen, I doubt if she can cook up anything more involved than banal banter with co-host shaved-headed Matt Lauer; and out in the yard, her gardening skills are nil, unless you count planting the seeds of liberal extremism as "gardening."

  • Barbara Walters: Yeah, right. Can you see Babs stuffing her bird? Actually, I know a few people who would like her to.

Okay, so there's really nobody out there who can become the next Martha Stewart -there's only one Martha. Agreed. But here's a question for you: Who was the Martha Stewart before Martha Stewart came along? Who taught America how to bake a sponge cake twenty years ago? Who showed us how to make our own bricks for the patio out of dried oatmeal flakes back in the Seventies?

Somehow everybody got along fine before Martha Stewart. Somehow we just knew certain things without having to be taught by the media mavens. Mom knew how to cook. And what she didn't know, she'd ask HER mom about. And if her mom didn't know, well then she might go to a cookbook - maybe. But in the end, she got the thing made one way or another and without the help of Martha.

Dad did stuff around the house whether he knew what the hell he was doing or not. Fix that furnace? You bet - hand me the sledge hammer and get out of the way. Wood-panel the den? Yeah, why not - we'll just nail these crummy sheets of veneer directly onto the wall. No problem at all. Martha Stewart? Who's that?

Now, I'm not putting down Martha, Heaven knows the woman's got enough to deal with without some Bozo like me giving her a hard time - and I've got to admit she really knows how to put together an entertaining TV show and a slick high-end magazine. My beef isn't with Martha; it's with the Martha ditto heads.

One would think with all the garbage that's going down today; the ongoing war on terror, the PC junk being shoved down the throats of kids in public schools, the illegal immigration invasion, homeland security concerns, out-sourcing of American jobs, getting the screws put to us by Saudi Arabian oil thieves, the secularization of American culture, and so many other things, that Martha's fans would have better things to do then wonder "who the new Martha Stewart might be."

One might also think that a columnist would have better things to write about then to devote an entire column to "who the new Martha Stewart might be."

Wrong on both counts.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2004 Greg Crosby