Dear Mr. West,
Should we ever meet, I will show you the secret handshake, but I can tell you it involves an extended middle finger.
Senator Leahy and I agree you have an exalted position in our club, not because we believe the presidential description was apt—after all, there were a few critics who thought Cheney was right about Leahy and Bush and Cheney were right about me. Accuracy has nothing to do with standards for club membership.
Change your email address immediately. If you don’t, the wingnuts will fill up your incoming files instantly. In your case, unlike ours, their message will probably be supportive.
But even though the president’s language toward you was relatively mild (calling you a “jackass” is hardly obscene; vulgar perhaps, but not on the level of “major league asshole” or “go fuck yourself”), you were honored by being denounced by the president himself.
• Choire Sicha: Leave Kanye Alone After all, when George W. Bush denounced me—I’ve always been a little bit hurt that I didn’t make “world class,” but only “major league”—he was only the governor of Texas. His echo chamber, “Big Time,” as Dick Cheney became known in the campaign, was only an out-of-work Texas oilman who had not yet seized control of the White House. Remember, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman might have gotten more votes and won the 2000 election, and then how memorable would my episode have been? Fellow club member Leahy was told to perform an anatomically impossible act by a sitting, though unarmed, vice president, so we believe he outranks me, too.
So you outrank us on that standard, and we pay appropriate homage.
• Watch the 5 Best Late-Night Mea Culpas • Watch 6 Classic Kanye Freakouts A few words of warning. Change your email address immediately. If you don’t, the wingnuts will fill up your incoming files instantly, probably crashing your computer in the process. In your case, unlike ours, their message will probably be supportive, hailing you as the first line of defense against foreign-born socialism. Anyone Obama calls a jackass will probably emerge as a hero to Joe Wilson and Sarah Palin. You may even find yourself invited to speak to Republican dinners, or even find yourself mentioned as a presidential candidate.
Then you can pass on the honor to someone else. Taylor Swift, maybe? And remember, say you didn’t think the microphone was live.
Adam Clymer is a former chief Washington correspondent of the New York Times and author of Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography.