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Break a Leg, John

We have tried our best to resist adding insult to Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent injury, despite how invitingly ridiculous it is for a 71-year-old diplomat to break his leg on a bicycle ride and how very silly he looked in that sissified Tour de France outfit he was wearing, but reading about his extravagant return home makes the temptation overwhelming.
It’s the sort of thing the American press is politely incurious about, but the cheekier Fleet Street fellows at Britain’s Daily Mail had the admirable lese majeste  to report that Kerry was helicoptered from the hospital where he received initial treatment to the Geneva airport and then flown to Boston for further care on a massive C-17 military transport plane intended for deploying up to 100 troops to war zones. A full medical team accompanied Kerry on his bike ride, the care he received at the Geneva hospital was by his own account first-rate, that full medical team also flew along with him on the plane ride home, presumably with plenty of room to administer whatever additional medical magic a broken leg might require along the way, one can expect that the attention currently being paid in that Boston hospital will surpass what the typical Obamacare health plan provides, and a broken leg, even such a spindly one as Kerry’s, isn’t really that big of a deal, so we expect he will soon be up and limping about and back at the hard work of letting Iran’s mad mullahs acquire a nuclear weapon and railing about those dastardly Republicans’ niggardly budget cuts. We suppose it’s our patriotic duty and Christian obligation to hope so, and we’ll  try to do our best in that regard as well, but still, everything about it seems gallingly excessive.
Most organizations finding themselves $18 trillion in debt would start looking over their employees’ expense account reports with a meticulously stingy eye, but the federal government is apparently an exception to this rule. We clearly remember how a major national newspaper chain once scrutinized every turnpike toll and other slight line item from our occasional trips to Topeka to cover some stupefyingly boring legislative hearing, even in the cash-flush days before the internet, and how the shrinking profit margins of the modern age eventually subjected even the executive editors and publishers to the same corporate parsimony, so we are amused to think of the apoplexy that would have resulted down in accounting if we’d ever handed over the kind of bill that Kerry will turn in from his bike ride. One can reasonably argue that a Secretary of State, even such a spindly one as Kerry, deserves greater consideration than any ink-stained scribe, or even executive editors and publishers and other white-collar big-wigs, but the difference between a personal C-17 and a coach seat on a crowded commercial flight, complete with the indignities that an average wheelchair-bound executive would surely endure at the security gate, seems shockingly wide. Kerry is a prominent member of the party that is constantly going on about economic inequality and carbon footprints, and claiming to be the champions of the common coach-flying folk, so surely the public has a right to expect something slightly less ostentatious and expensive.
As long as we’re succumbing to the temptation to gripe about that, we might as well further note how ridiculous it is for a 71-year-old diplomat to break his leg on a bicycle ride, and how very silly Kerry looked in that sissified Tour de France outfit he was wearing. The now-famous ride was along a stretch of the Tour de France route, with Kerry in his pretentious gear and pedaling some expensive-looking bicycle, with not only his medical team and security detail and unaccountably large entourage along but also a throng of American and European media eager to seize the photo opportunity to show Kerry as a still robust and macho Secretary of State, and although he was on a flat and straight and short bit of the Alps, peddling along at a 71-year-old’s leisurely pace, the ensuing riot of adoring photographers and attentive medical care and watchful security and unaccountable hangers-on caused him to crash and break one of the legs that the cameras had already embarrassingly captured as spindly and covered with a spandex layer of a sissified Tour de France outfit. Despite our patriotic duty and Christian obligations, we find this high comedy, except for the part about how this spindly and sissified and extravagantly silly guy is in charge of America’s foreign policy.

— Bud Norman

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