June 01, 2004

Guardian Follies

Gary Farber catches a classic piece of dead-pan reality-warp from the Guardian's John Sutherland. Fritz Hollings's and Charlie Rangel's much-discussed mischievous, administration-baiting "draft the rich kids" bill (S89 and HR163), clearly intended as a marginally clever prank rather than a sincere proposal, is quoted at length and treated as an imminent civil catastrophe. I mean, as though it hadn't died in committee on the day of its tongue-in-cheek introduction a year and a half ago, and as though it had anything whatsoever to do with the administration or the real world. (Will there ever be a serious attempt to reinstitute the military draft? Who knows? It would be extremely risky politically, and I kind of doubt it in present circumstances. But in any case, this bill isn't one, as even John Sutherland could have figured out if he'd wanted to.)

By the way, Sutherland laments the lack of media attention on this ("the fourth estate has failed the American public and continues not to do its job"-- how's that for a news flash? No way...) I suppose he wasn't around to see Rangel yukking it up like a stand up comic all over the news talk show circuit back in early 2003. I was: he killed on O'Reilly. Note to fourth estate: more like this, please. Gary's got the hilarious details.

Posted by Dr. Frank at June 1, 2004 04:17 PM | TrackBack

I hadn't heard the term "Grauniad" used before, but it's funny that, through Google trickery, a Guardian article is the #1 result.

Maybe if the bill had been titled "A Modest Draft Proposal" he would have gotten it.

Posted by: Dave Bug at June 1, 2004 05:09 PM

Yeah, Dave, I've always wondered where the Grauniad thing started. Pretty much all of the blogs I read tend to use the scrambled name as a matter of course-- I don't just cause I like being all different and stuff. I may be mistaken, but I think that goes all the way back to when I first started reading political blogs in 2001. But who was the first person to do it? Does it pre-date blogging? If anyone knows how to find out, I imagine it would be you, Dave. What do you think?

Posted by: Dr. Frank at June 1, 2004 05:16 PM

I don't recall the precise details but the "Grauniad" usage goes back to sometime when it was still the Manchester Guardian, back in the Sixties, I think, and they famously typoed their own name, as I've understood it since, if I'm not engaging in False Memory Syndrome, the Seventies, when it was an Old Legend.

It absolutely long pre-dates blogging, and the internet as well.

Posted by: Gary Farber at June 1, 2004 07:19 PM

Here you go:

I was slightly off; I apparently remember it actually happening at the time, more or less, in the Seventies.

Posted by: Gary Farber at June 1, 2004 07:23 PM

Well, you're quicker than I am, Gary Farber. All I've got to offer is that John Sutherland could, at the very least, have checked Snopes for their recent essay discussing the improbability of the reinstantement of the draft:


Posted by: Dave Bug at June 1, 2004 09:22 PM

My impression is that it goes back before the 1970s, and that Private Eye may have helped to popularize the usage - if it didn't itself originate it indeed.

Posted by: Norm Geras at June 2, 2004 06:25 PM

I'd always thought that the 'Guardian' got the nickname 'Grauniad' because of the number of typos in its articles.

An entire Grauniad page:

Posted by: Rob Hinkley at June 3, 2004 11:34 AM