Come to think of it, “How ya doin’ ” belongs in this memorial to meaninglessness.
Truth is, we don’t really don’t care how you’re doing. In fact, the possibility you might tell us causes us to shudder.
“Nice to see you” is another one, almost always the automatic greeting from someone who is looking over your shoulder and doesn’t really see you at all.
Washington would be the obvious home for an Insincerity Hall of Fame. The language of phoniness is a fine art here. Where else but the U.S. Senate is it required that a member refers to his or her most bitter enemy as “My friend”?
Only here can those who absolutely want to sabotage healthcare reform feel no shame in piously declaring they are for “sensible reform.”
This is the safe haven for those members of Congress who express the most intense outrage over our economic collapse while rigidly opposing any effective regulation of those who caused the debacle and, by the way, make huge contributions to the incumbents’ reelection funds.
We get to have it both ways, because what’s spoken here is the language of deception. But it is not unique to Washington.
We see it everywhere: for example, from the local TV stations that constantly declare “We care about our community,” when they really care about maximizing their ratings and the profits of owners who live far, far away.
We hear the same thing from the corporations closer to home, shortly before they pull up stakes and move much farther from home, where low wages trump loyalty and social responsibility.
Still, Washington is the center of the semantic alternative universe. Every minute we are presented with the work of the disingenuous geniuses and their masterpieces of the false and the hollow: “I don’t pay attention to the polls,” “This isn’t about politics,” “I’ve given no thought about whether I’m going to run for president,” “Those huge campaign contributions have no effect on my support for that legislation,” “No new taxes,” “Most of all, I am sorry for the pain I have caused my family.”
The litany goes on and on. What is most remarkable is that it is all routinely delivered with a straight face here. The question is, should we construct a separate Pantheon of Platitude, or should we just add a wing to an existing structure, like the Capitol building or White House, where so much of this stuff has a natural home?
Right now you’re probably wondering whether there’s been any support for my idea about an Insincerity Hall of Fame. In fact, any number of people have expressed interest.
They didn’t really mean it.
But thank you for asking.
Visit Mr. Franken's website at www.bobfranken.tv.