June 23rd, 2024


There is an obsession with syndromes and disorders among libs

Garrison Keillor

By Garrison Keillor

Published June 10, 2024


I had a long talk with my friend George Latimer, the mayor of St. Paul, last Monday, which went on for 54 minutes, which is a long time for a dying man. But Mayor Latimer is quite feisty. At 88, he has been in and out of hospice a few times so his intentions aren't clear, and he was very funny, which is how I want to be when I am dying, should this ever occur.

Though he left office in 1990, I still think of him as mayor because he is memorable. He won office despite being short and Lebanese, which some voters misread as "lesbian," and is a native of Schenectady, which is not in Minnesota nor even near it, but he could talk like a bartender, speaking with great conviction while taking both sides of a question so as not to disrespect those who disagree and elaborating on the complexities so thoroughly that you forgot what he had said. And St. Paul was in rough shape at the time and why would you impose the mayorship on a friend? So we elected an out-of-towner.

In St. Paul, you're not a full citizen unless your grandmother was born there. From the mayorship, he descended into a spiral of deanships and professorships, board memberships, various eminent vacancies, and ten years ago St. Paul's downtown library was named the George Latimer Library, which led many people to assume he was dead. He called me last week to tell me, in his own words, that he was not.

Times have changed and I know it because I have children, one born in the olden days and one in modern times. One was born before seat belts, when a child might ride standing up in the front seat next to Daddy as he drove 75 mph across North Dakota, and one rode in a podlike car seat belted in like a little test pilot. One grew up inhaling secondary smoke and the other in a house in which nobody ever smoked though sometimes a guest lurked in the backyard like a Soviet spy and lit a cigarette to notify his criminal confederates that he had the secret papers in his possession. The younger one's rearing was guided by a ten-foot shelf of books. The older one was raised by pure chance.

I am a Democrat — I gave up communism back in 1982 when I quit smoking — but I am wary of liberals and the hesitations they imposed upon us, the box of razor blades with the warning, "Sharp: may cut skin if pressure is applied." The warnings on wine bottles: "May have serious consequences in your choice of romantic partners." Boxes of butter that say, "You know this isn't good for you and yet you do it anyway." There is an obsession with syndromes and disorders among liberals, short people become "vertically challenged" and "overlooked" and programs are created to guard against self-minimization by requiring schools and restaurants to provide stilts.

I think of it as Creeping Unitarianism, the love of organizations like Anger Anonymous for parents who have yelled at their kids, which lets you form committees and subcommittees and hold meetings and conduct research. And Men Coming to Terms with Their Maleness, in which guys sit in a circle of folding chairs and talk about how happy it made Mom to see her boy grow up big and strong and how this made them insensitive and tyrannical and they must now regain vulnerability and learn to weep in front of other men, which they attempt to do every other Wednesday night in a Unitarian church basement near you. I am all in favor of this so long as I'm not required to participate.

In addition to communists and criminals, the Democratic opposition includes many Christians and crossword puzzle workers, and those Minnesota Republicans know that. I know they know it. I wish they hadn't clapped. Long life, George. Ten more years and you'll be almost done.

Garrison Keillor is an author and radio personality. His latest book is "Cheerfulness". Buy it at a 38% discount! by clicking here. Sales help fund JWR.