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Jewish World Review Oct. 13, 2000 / 14 Tishrei 5761

Greg Crosby

Greg Crosby
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Consumer Reports

And the whiner is ... -- YEARS AGO, the NBC television show, Saturday Night Live, used to have a running comedy sketch featuring a married couple called The Whiners. Basically a one-note joke, all these people did was whine. Period. Just like an annoying six year old who couldn’t get his own way, they would speak in long drawn-out syllables with that cracking, almost crying tone in their voice. Their normal way of talking was whining --- no matter what the conversation might have involved. Anyone who ever saw that routine can probably, right now, still remember the sniveling, obnoxious pitch in their voices, “Ohhh... I dunno ... I don’t really want ... to go there... do yooouuu?”

Why do I bring this up? Well, listening to the vice-presidential debate between Dick Cheney and Joseph Lieberman last week, I became aware just how much Lieberman sounds like those Whiners in the old Saturday Night Live sketch. It’s uncanny. The guy has that exact same quality to his voice, like it starts down deep in the pit of his stomach -- almost like the beginning of a cry, “Ohhh... thank you, Bern-ieee... Ohhh... that’s a hard question to answerrrr...” His words trail off in that whiny way that makes you think he’s either going to start sobbing any minute or put his head in his hands and rock back and forth in some sort of agony. “Ohhh... why do you always have to ask ME all the confusing questions ... ohhh...”

I know we mustn’t judge a person’s strength, capabilities or leadership qualities based on the sound of his voice, but COME ON! Joe Lieberman makes Don Knotts sound like John Wayne. If they ever need a new guy to do the Mr. Whipple, “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin” commercials, Lierberman is a shoe-in. Remember the old animated cartoon character, Droopy? Am I crazy or did he sound just like Senator Joe? “Well, hello, there, everybody...” Even his face looks kind of Droopy-ish.

Of course Joe Lieberman can’t help the way he talks, but couldn’t he try just a little bit not to sound like the whimpering little kid who keeps getting beat up at school by the bullies because he is a tattle-tale and a kiss-up. Come to think of it, Gore reminds me of a school kiss-up, too. He’s a lot like Waldo, the stuck up rich kid from The Little Rascals comedies. The smirking panty-waste who can’t wait to put his hand up in class and give the answer before anyone else can.

In school, Albert and Joe would undoubtedly hang around together and eat their lunch alone on the playground away from everybody else. “Ohhhh, Al, the big kids are making fun of me again...” “Don’t you mind them, Joey, they’re just jealous of us. As long as you stay with me and do what I tell you to do everything will be fine.” “Oh, okay, Al-l-l-l... W-Will you al-ways be my f-friend...?” “Yes, Joey. I will always be your friend. Remember, I invented friendship.”

Should Gore win, I’m not sure if Lieberman would be our first Vice President whiner -- there may have been one or two others before him -- but there’s no question that he would be the most famous political whiner in modern times. Can you imagine Joe Lieberman as the first whiner President of The United States? “Ohhh... good evening, my fellow Americans...this is know, your President. Remember me? Oh, dear me...I have something to say to you, but, how do I tell you this? Oh, I don’t want to have to do this ...but they made me do it ... I-I think I have to raise your taxes....isn’t that awful? Oh, dear.... . I’m so sorry. I understand completely how you all must feel -- you see, my father was a poor bakery truck driver...”

Listening to the entire hour and a half debate, I realized that I honestly can’t take Joe Lieberman’s whiny voice for very long before I feel an uncontrollable need to put my fist through a wall or go screaming at a gallop down the street. For me, it’s like a Chinese water torture. It is a grating, annoying sound akin to chalk on a blackboard. Al Gore “fighting for me” may be a lot of malarkey, but Joe Lieberman whining for me would really drive me nuts.

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. You may contact him by clicking here.


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© 2000, Greg Crosby