I loved the Lone Ranger. As a little kid, I would look forward to Saturday morning when the weekly episode would appear on television.
A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty hi-ho Silver! The Lone Ranger!
With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early West.
Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. The Lone Ranger rides again!
Each episode would end with some variation of a bewildered participant asking "Who was that masked man?" Another character, one in the know, would respond incredulously, "You don't know who that is? Why, that's the Lone Ranger!" We would then hear the hoof beats and "Hi-ho Silver!" as the William Tell Overture picked up and the credits rolled.
A recent angry epistle from Rick Tyler, press secretary to sometime presidential candidate Newt Gingrich brought back those long ago memories. The imagery of Newt, embattled and bloodied, battling against minions sent to unseat him from his valiant steed, finally emerging "out of the billowing smoke and dust" belongs in an old black and white television western. The purple prose was wonderful to read.
The Huffington Post, recounts the thrilling rhetoric:
“The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding,” Tyler wrote. “Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world. The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the establishment’s cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods. Now they are left exposed by their bylines and handles. But surely they had killed him off. This is the way it always worked. A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won’t be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces.”
You can almost hear battle cries over the roar of the cannons.
It may seem a bit jarring to think of an aging politician on a white stallion, charging bravely through the smoke. But it could be worse.
Charlie Weaver was an old vaudeville comedian who found his way into television. His real name was Cliff Arquette, but nobody outside of show business knew him by anything other than his stage name. He would tell wonderful stories. Some dealt with early radio. One was about the radio precursor to my favorite television show.
It seems the director of the series was not at all happy during rehearsal. Radio in those days was done live, so there would be no second chances. But the character at the end, the one saying "Why, that's the Lone Ranger" was insufficiently enthusiastic in his presentation. The director explained, cajoled, and finally screamed at the bewildered actor, who did his best to follow the director's increasingly loud and frantic instructions. Finally, the director found a way to express it so the flustered actor understood. "Say it with as much awe and respect as you would if you were talking about the President of the United States!" The light bulb seemed to go on, and the actor nodded.
The show went well. The director was grateful, for this was, after all, live radio. Near the end, the actor was cued. "Who was that masked man?"
The actor respectfully, and in a measured tone of awe, answered. "You don't know who that is? Why, that's Herbert Hoover!" The hoof beats started and the cry in the distance was "Hi-ho Silver!!!"
It had been years since I thought of the heroic Herbert Hoover riding off into the sunset.
It took Newt Gingrich on his own valiant steed to bring it all back. I wonder if Rick Tyler's next job will be as a television writer.
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It is hard to take Gingrich seriously anymore, and his press secretary is NOT helping his cause.
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