Another Open Letter to Dennis Miller
Me again. As I mentioned in my last letter, I’m a regular listener to your radio show. Though I must tell you, these last few months it’s been more out of habit than anything else. Back in the day, I thought you were a pretty decent comedian. I liked you on Weekend Update, I rented videos of a few of your stand-up specials, you were all right. You carved out a place for yourself as the guy who always had an arcane yet apt bit of pop culture trivia handy. It worked pretty well.
But Denny, babe, the radio gig isn’t doing your credibility any favors. For one thing, you tend to repeat yourself. A lot. I know there are only so many obscure references to be made, but if I have to hear you compare another person to one of the town elders in Footloose, or make that lame-ass joke about feeling like Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes when he looked up and saw the ape on top of the horse whenever you see Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House one more time, I’m fucking switching to Diane Rehm.
For another thing, it’s evident after listening to your show for the almost the last two years that you’re nowhere near as sharp as your stand-up act had us believe all those years. Whether it’s your claiming to be a big Herb Alpert fan while thinking his last name was “Albert” until your producer corrected you last year, or not knowing what the word “olfactory” means, every show offers up more depressing evidence that a lot of the time you don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.
So you’re repetitive and you’re a bigger idiot than I ever thought you were. But that’s not the worst of it; the most damaging revelation of the radio show has been your unvarying glibness. Being glib in your speech is one thing. Hell, in your line of work it’s a nice ability to have. It’s a whole other deal being glib in your thoughts.
Your program today was a perfect example. You brought up the recent interview given by Chesley Sullenberger, the captain of U.S. Airways Flight 1549, who successfully ditched his crashing plane into the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew. Sully’s gotta be an early candidate for Man of the Year by anyone’s reckoning, and you haven’t been bashful about praising the guy’s courage and quick thinking in making that incredible water landing that still has many of us smiling and shaking our heads in amazement. But there was something Sully said that you took issue with. Apparently, Captain Sullenberger had some trouble sleeping after the accident. He worried that he might have done something better, started to second-guess his actions.
When speaking about this today, your voice adopted that shrill, holier-than-thou tone it often does when you take it on yourself to tell other people their business. You expressed disbelief that Sully, who had saved 155 lives, was haunted by what he had done. To you, it was a simple: things turned out good, so Sully should be happy. Tragedy was averted, so there’s nothing to be upset about. Searching, desperate for some explanation, you blamed Sully’s self-recrimination on the softening of our culture, on what you perceive as our tendency these days to deny our own nobility even when the evidence of it is staring us in the face. I’m sure Sully would appreciate your reliable and well-considered diagnosis.
This is what I mean by glib thinking. Must it be a symptom of some wider cultural problem, which conveniently fits in just perfectly with your current political worldview, that this man is troubled by his actions during the crash of Flight 1549? Or might it be that he is still a bit too close to a traumatic experience? Might he simply be smart enough to know that the miracle of that day could very easily have been a tragedy, regardless of what he did? Sullenberger is a hero, and we are right to honor him and his crew, but if a few variables had come out differently you would have no hero to analyze. Sully could have done everything exactly the same and this still could have been a tragedy. He must know how close he came to death that day. Can that possibly be bothering him just a little?
I’m not surprised you don’t get it, Dennis. Unlike you, Chesley Sullenberger seems to be a thoughtful man, and a man capable of honest self-reflection. He’s not a shallow dispenser of quips, and he’s not a washed-up comedian with delusions of philosophy. He’s a man who lived through something most people wouldn’t have. He’s competent, and quick-thinking, and courageous. He’s also wise enough to know how lucky he is to be alive, and how close he came to being snuffed out along with everyone else on that plane. That he’s haunted by that shouldn’t bother you, or anyone else. It should only increase your admiration for the man.
Couldn’t let that slide without getting this off my chest. I’d post a copy of this to your website, but only paying members are allowed access to your forum. More evidence why a misguided armchair psychologist and intellectual coward like you is the last person who should be shaking his finger at Sully Sullenberger.
Yours in Christ,