August 03, 2005


It's been a rough month, Nick Coleman fans. We've had to endure a long hiatus from the rich writing and rock-solid logic of Minnesota's foremost newspaper columnist. He's been tending to the latest addition to his family unit, so congratulations on that. With that out of the way, let's dig right into his latest column.

Be warned, Nick is a bit rusty after his vacation and, if you're at all familiar with Nick Coleman's writing, knowing that he's rusty is NOT a good thing, to put it mildly.

I haven't written about President George W. Bush all year, and that suits me fine. I get tired of calling presidents liars, and he doesn't care what some blue-state hack thinks.

Oh. My. Nick just referred to himself as a blue state hack. Perhaps his month off granted him a moment of clarity? We can only hope.

So it's a win-win.

Nevertheless, etiquette requires me to write about the president today. He sent a message to me and my colleagues in the media, and it deserves a response.

Ah, etiquette. . . from a guy who once hinted, in his column no less, that a well-known blogger may have *hint, hint* a small manhood. Yes sir, Nick Coleman is all about etiquette, and apparently so are his editors, who continually let shit like that slide.

Don't worry: I will be polite, and I will use more fingers than he did.

For those unfamiliar with it, that's what passes as Nick Coleman humor. Yeah, I know, it's kind of painful, but you get used to it after awhile.

Bush, it seems, has given the press the presidential bird, a digital message of the kind you see exchanged between angry drivers at stop signs. At least we know where we stand.

Ooookayyyy, I think I can see where Nick is going with this.

The White House issued a non-denial denial, and the reporters on hand must have been blinded by the lights bouncing off their makeup mirrors because they didn't see it or thought the president had given them a thumbs up.

But when you view the video, as I have, (he knows stuff!) there isn't much doubt: George Bush, who promised to change the tone in Washington and restore dignity to the highest office in the land, deliberately flipped off the press.

There isn't much doubt? Is Coleman even remotely familiar with the Internet and Google? There's been more debate on this supposed finger flip than is probably healthy. Although the debate itself is funny as hell, and I highly encourage you to read the threads. There are those utterly convinced it was a middle finger, others utterly convinced it was a thumb's up, and still others who admit they're not sure. So much debate over a finger, it's just hysterical.

That's his right, even if it makes him the only born-again man whose favorite philosopher is Jesus Christ who flips people off like a sailor. But the press -- we whipped dogs and disreputable stand-ins for the American people -- didn't even raise a whimper.

Nick, who wasn't even there, wonders why his fellow whipped dogs didn't raise a whimper. Maybe, just maybe, they had a unique vantage point, up close and personal, that indicated to them that they hadn't just received a Presidential Piss-Off? Isn't that just possible?

The Finger-in-Chief was flipped last Wednesday, when the president visited Capitol Hill to meet with Republicans. He waved at the cameras, then walked down a hallway, pestered by reporters' questions.

Then, as he faded out of sight, Bush jabbed his middle finger in the air, the way you would give a farewell salute to a jerk disappearing in your rearview mirror.

I'll admit it, when I first, FIRST, saw the supposed bird flip, I tended to think Bush did, indeed, give the press corp the finger. Certainly, I wouldn't put it past Bush to do such a thing, and as the forum threads linked above point out, repeatedly, he's definitely done it before. It wasn't until I watched the forum threads unfold in the above links that I changed my mind and chalked it up to a thumbs up. What damning evidence does Nick Coleman use as his "proof?"

It was unmistakable. When "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno replayed the video, his audience knew instantly what the president meant (To see the video, visit the Onegoodmove website via

There you have it folks. When it comes to the news of the day, Nick Coleman turns to the "Tonight Show" with Jay Leno and his video expert audience members.

A president showing disdain for the media is nothing new. But doing it with a contemptuous gesture that is offensive to millions does not just insult the press. It insults anyone who relies on the press to tell us what our leaders are doing. When presidents flip off the press, Americans get the finger.

You know, provided the President ACTUALLY FLIPPED OFF THE PRESS, the evidence of said flip being wildly inconclusive. Coleman's basing this entire column, with all it's witty finger-flipping cliches, on speculative guesswork, and a video clip courtesy of the "Tonight Show."

The networks and most newspapers ignored Bush's Big Bird, and only a handful of papers printed stories about the incident. Most were light, gossipy and inconclusive, giving the thumb theory more weight than it deserves (try mimicking the video with your own hand; only one finger will do).

Ahhhh, a thumb theory of which Coleman disagrees is getting more weight than it deserves. So much for a marketplace of ideas and all that. Apparently, if you don't think like Nick Coleman, Nick Coleman thinks you're wrong. Even if there's compelling evidence to the contrary.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan gave a limp denial: "I'm not going to dignify that with a response," he said the next day. "I mean, I haven't seen the video that you're talking about, but I know the way the president acts."

A limp denial? What the hell was he supposed to do? Slam his fists down on the podium and decree before God and all America that "I haven't seen the video you're talking about!"?

Yes, we know how he acts. He has flipped the bird before.

Like I said, go through the forum threads linked in this post, and you'll see more than enough evidence of Bush (and several others), flipping the bird. So, where does Nick Coleman go for his further evidence? Where does "He Who Is Nobody's Monkey" go for an unbiased opinion?

"The president knows his way around his middle finger," says John Aravosis, a Washington consultant and liberal blogger (he runs Americablog). Aravosis has helped keep the presidential finger story alive, and the White House took the unusual step of calling him to try to convince him that the videotape features Bush's thumb, not his middle finger. A weirdly elongated and misplaced thumb.

Okay, so Nick Coleman, a man who has made it almost his crusade--albeit a pathetic, clumsy and self-defeating crusade--to expose right wing blogs as a daisy chain of conservative "megaphones without oversight," turns to an equally partisan left wing blog to augment his point. NICK! Your biases are showing! You little non-monkey, you!

Aravosis doesn't buy it.

"The president thinks his conservative moral beliefs should be shoved down our throats. Then he flips people off. He's a phony. That's the story. I don't know about you, but my priest doesn't run around in public flipping people off."

How's that for a nice, detached, unbiased opinion for you?

But forget the finger. The real problem is the attitude of a president who flips the bird to representatives of the public -- however downtrodden, defeated and demoralized we press jackals might be.

Anyone who cares about the role of the press in a free society might worry when a president dismisses the press with an emperor's crude gesture.

I'd like to make a counter-argument here, using Nick's own words against him:

But forget the finger. The real problem is the attitude of press representatives who believe without question that the President flips the bird to representatives of the public -- however downtrodden, defeated and demoralized we press jackals might be.

Anyone who cares about the role of the press in a free society might worry when members of the press automatically and unquestioningly believe that the president dismissed them with an emperor's crude gesture

Nah, it's never the press that might be the problem. That's un-possible.

Getting back to the real Nick Coleman.

But maybe it was only a thumb. I'd like to believe that. Yes, the president gave the press a thumbs up! He really likes us! Just a thumb! The longest thumb we ever have seen.

Right in the eye.

Hey, here's an idea: let's bombard the Star-Tribune with all sorts of links discussing that bird-flip in question, with pointed inquiries of the people at the Star-Tribune why it is that they're reporting conjecture as fact. And then ask Coleman directly ( why he puts more faith in venomous left-leaning blogs while ridiculing right-leaning blogs.

Good to have you back, Nick. Sort of.

Posted by Ryan at August 3, 2005 01:14 AM | TrackBack

Total frikkin' idiot. I can't read his columns any more, not even for the pleasure of seeing him make an ass of himself. He's gone beyond funny to pathetic.

Posted by: Keith at August 3, 2005 12:24 PM
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