Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Homeland Security or Comedy Central?

Collapse
X
  •  
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Homeland Security or Comedy Central?

    John Tierney
    New York Times
    Published 03/23/2003

    WASHINGTON -- Many Cabinet members serve entire terms without becoming household names, but the new secretary of homeland security is already that and more. Tom Ridge has become a one-man economic stimulus package for the comedy industry.

    One Tom Ridge impersonator opened "Saturday Night Live" by changing the national threat level to magenta ("not quite an oxblood"); another performed in front of President Bush and Ridge last weekend wrapped in plastic sheeting. Duct tape is now a punch line.

    Within the administration and by many of his former colleagues on Capitol Hill, Ridge is regarded as a dependable, experienced politician in a tough position: blamed as an incompetent if a terrorist attack occurs, mocked as an alarmist if it does not.

    But his public image has taken a beating, and not only from comedians. He and his department have been criticized by experts in terrorism and risk management for scaring Americans with vague warnings and for confusing them with poor advice.

    "Homeland security is a difficult job, but they've been at it for 17 months and they're certainly not getting any better at it," said Ivo H. Daalder, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "They want to be absolutely sure that if anything happens, they can say they've warned us about it. But by covering their backsides, they're making terrorism into something more awful."

    Ridge has said that the alert system, which uses five colors (green, blue, yellow, orange, red) to rate the current threat of terrorism, is designed mainly to tell the police and other security officials to be more vigilant. But the news that the threat level has been raised can leave people frustrated because they do not know what the danger is or what they can do about it.

    "Ridge and the department need to come up with a better way of saying 'Be afraid," said David Ropeik, director of risk communication at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. "They say: 'Be alert,' and then out of the other side of their mouth they say: 'Go about your normal lives.' To most of us, those messages don't mesh. They also need to be more specific. When the threat level goes from yellow to orange, tell us what we can do besides being more alert."

    Ridge made one attempt at specificity when he appeared on the "Tonight Show" in November. After praising Jay Leno's many jokes at his expense, he took a direct question from the comedian.

    "I'm sitting at home in my underpants watching the game and, boop, we're in yellow," Leno said. "What do I do now?"

    Ridge got a big laugh with his reply: "Change shorts."

    "That was a pretty good ad-lib line," said Leno, who offered a couple of theories for Ridge's enduring comic appeal. "Tom Ridge always makes me smile because he looks like the guy on the Just For Men hair-coloring box. And he's got a thankless job. "

    The duct tape jokes began last month when, three days after raising the threat level from yellow to orange, Ridge's department suggested that residents stockpile food and supplies, including plastic and tape that could be used during a biological or chemical attack. After reports of panicked people sealing their homes, Ridge explained that the tape was intended only for use in an emergency, but the jokes went on.

    Said Gary Hart, the former Democratic senator from Colorado who led a national commission that recommended the creation of the Homeland Security Department: "The idea of using duct tape to protect yourself would resonate only if people could see the government taking action to protect you. But because the government has done so little against terrorism at home, it sounded as if they were saying, 'You're on your own.' "

    There has been little personal criticism of Ridge, at least publicly. He is generally popular, especially with the many former colleagues in the House of Representatives who have met with him.

    "His reputation is very solid on both sides of the aisle," said Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., chairman of the House committee on homeland security. "The public has gotten a lopsided view because he can't talk publicly about much of the enormous effort the department has made to prevent terrorism."

    Ridge has tried a little duct tape humor of his own.

    "I happen to think humor is a good way of talking about serious subjects," he said recently in a speech to military veterans. He told them about a cartoon showing a man wondering what to do after he had taped a duck to a window. "Might want to keep him alive until Thanksgiving or Christmas," Ridge said, pausing for laughter, "but probably not in that environment."

    http://www.startribune.com/stories/587/3771407.html

  • #2
    John Tierney
    New York Times
    Published 03/23/2003

    WASHINGTON -- Many Cabinet members serve entire terms without becoming household names, but the new secretary of homeland security is already that and more. Tom Ridge has become a one-man economic stimulus package for the comedy industry.

    One Tom Ridge impersonator opened "Saturday Night Live" by changing the national threat level to magenta ("not quite an oxblood"); another performed in front of President Bush and Ridge last weekend wrapped in plastic sheeting. Duct tape is now a punch line.

    Within the administration and by many of his former colleagues on Capitol Hill, Ridge is regarded as a dependable, experienced politician in a tough position: blamed as an incompetent if a terrorist attack occurs, mocked as an alarmist if it does not.

    But his public image has taken a beating, and not only from comedians. He and his department have been criticized by experts in terrorism and risk management for scaring Americans with vague warnings and for confusing them with poor advice.

    "Homeland security is a difficult job, but they've been at it for 17 months and they're certainly not getting any better at it," said Ivo H. Daalder, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "They want to be absolutely sure that if anything happens, they can say they've warned us about it. But by covering their backsides, they're making terrorism into something more awful."

    Ridge has said that the alert system, which uses five colors (green, blue, yellow, orange, red) to rate the current threat of terrorism, is designed mainly to tell the police and other security officials to be more vigilant. But the news that the threat level has been raised can leave people frustrated because they do not know what the danger is or what they can do about it.

    "Ridge and the department need to come up with a better way of saying 'Be afraid," said David Ropeik, director of risk communication at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. "They say: 'Be alert,' and then out of the other side of their mouth they say: 'Go about your normal lives.' To most of us, those messages don't mesh. They also need to be more specific. When the threat level goes from yellow to orange, tell us what we can do besides being more alert."

    Ridge made one attempt at specificity when he appeared on the "Tonight Show" in November. After praising Jay Leno's many jokes at his expense, he took a direct question from the comedian.

    "I'm sitting at home in my underpants watching the game and, boop, we're in yellow," Leno said. "What do I do now?"

    Ridge got a big laugh with his reply: "Change shorts."

    "That was a pretty good ad-lib line," said Leno, who offered a couple of theories for Ridge's enduring comic appeal. "Tom Ridge always makes me smile because he looks like the guy on the Just For Men hair-coloring box. And he's got a thankless job. "

    The duct tape jokes began last month when, three days after raising the threat level from yellow to orange, Ridge's department suggested that residents stockpile food and supplies, including plastic and tape that could be used during a biological or chemical attack. After reports of panicked people sealing their homes, Ridge explained that the tape was intended only for use in an emergency, but the jokes went on.

    Said Gary Hart, the former Democratic senator from Colorado who led a national commission that recommended the creation of the Homeland Security Department: "The idea of using duct tape to protect yourself would resonate only if people could see the government taking action to protect you. But because the government has done so little against terrorism at home, it sounded as if they were saying, 'You're on your own.' "

    There has been little personal criticism of Ridge, at least publicly. He is generally popular, especially with the many former colleagues in the House of Representatives who have met with him.

    "His reputation is very solid on both sides of the aisle," said Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., chairman of the House committee on homeland security. "The public has gotten a lopsided view because he can't talk publicly about much of the enormous effort the department has made to prevent terrorism."

    Ridge has tried a little duct tape humor of his own.

    "I happen to think humor is a good way of talking about serious subjects," he said recently in a speech to military veterans. He told them about a cartoon showing a man wondering what to do after he had taped a duck to a window. "Might want to keep him alive until Thanksgiving or Christmas," Ridge said, pausing for laughter, "but probably not in that environment."

    http://www.startribune.com/stories/587/3771407.html

    Comment


    • #3
      LOL

      Comment

      Sorry, you are not authorized to view this page

      Home Page

      Immigration Daily

      Archives

      Processing times

      Immigration forms

      Discussion board

      Resources

      Blogs

      Twitter feed

      Immigrant Nation

      Attorney2Attorney

      CLE Workshops

      Immigration books

      Advertise on ILW

      EB-5

      移民日报

      About ILW.COM

      Connect to us

      Questions/Comments

      SUBSCRIBE

      Immigration Daily



      Working...
      X