Sitting atop an ancient mountain built out of the corpses of worn out words, the wise old monk of punditry spoke to his students.
“Gather ‘round my children, as I tell a sad tale of long ago: it was The Year of Our Lord, 2008, when the punditocracy faced its second great time of trial. The first great time of trial had been a decade earlier in the waning years of the prior century, when a bold young president, with a knack for the incautious exercise of his loins, found himself in his own time of crisis as a result of an ill-advised encounter with a fair young . . . well, young anyway . . . maiden.
The wise old monk continued. “It was the judgment of the Great Beltway Punditocracy of the time that the sin in question . . . in all of its dress staining horror . . . was beyond the power of redemption. The resulting wound, our ancestors were certain, would most certainly be fatal; they howled and they screeched. They cried out for political blood.”
“What happened then, oh great master?” gasped one student.
“The people yawned.”
“They yawned?” came a voice in disbelief.
“Yes, my child, I’m afraid they displayed not a fraction of the outrage the punditocracy had commanded of them.”
The students sat in stunned silence. Finally one young boy, the monk’s favorite student, spoke, “Did the pundits order the people be put to death for their insolence?”
“No, Grasshopper,” sighed the monk, “alas, they had not the power, though some of them seemed not to realize it. It was a time of shameful public disobedience to the revealed wisdom of the Great Ones.”
The favored student spoke again, “But master, you said that this was the punditocracy’s first great time of trial, not its last. So, the pundits must have survived . . .”
“Yes, indeed,” the monk interrupted, “they lived to pontificate another day. Bruised but unbowed, they journeyed on. But then came their second great time of trial. It was the year of a presidential election, and the punditocracy’s chosen champion, Sir John of the Desert Tribe, was preparing to face one of two possible opponents. One potential challenger was the spouse of the young president who had thwarted the punditocracy during the first great time of trial . . .”
“Oh, no,” said one of the students while shivering in terror.
“Yes, but she was unexpectedly vanquished by the second contender, a young knight from The Great City of the Wind. At first the punditocracy showed kindness to this young pretender to the throne, but when it became clear that he would almost certainly become Sir John’s challenger, they turned on him like a pack of hungry wolfs turned loose in a petting zoo.”
“Whatever did they do?” another student whispered.
“First, they pontificated endlessly about a clergyman closely connected to the young prince . . . a clergyman whose words brought anger to many ears. This relationship, the punditocracy declared solemnly, would doom the young price’s campaign.”
“The people yawned.”
“Yes, sad to say, yet again. So, next the Great Beltway Punditocracy attacked the young prince with full fury for a comment he made . . . one some felt could be construed as showing disrespect for the commoners of his age. Again, the punditocracy cried out with all its might, declaring the blunder to be fatal and rallying the citizenry to righteous rage.”
The favored student spoke again, though this time in a much more hesitant voice, “So, did the people finally rally behind the pundits’ wisdom?”
The monk shook his head sadly. “I’m afraid not. They yawned again.”
Gasps of disbelief flowed through the ranks of the students, like water streaming from a broken teakettle.
The monk smiled softly. “So history records that on that day began The Great Withdrawal, when the pundits abandoned their penthouses and weekend retreats in the Hamptons and moved to this mountain, determined to never again waste the punditocracy’s genius on an ungrateful peasantry.
“And is that why our ancestors built the great barbed wire wall that surrounds our mountain, so as to keep those ingrates out?”
“It’s a funny thing about that, Grasshopper. We weren’t actually the ones who build it, the people outside did . . . I guess they must have come to recognize their unworthiness.”
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