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July 31, 2001
One of Us
I was at first sad after reading that a woman in her 80s had tripped and bumped her head and died. And then the coverage began...
Friends, former presidents and their flunkies, dear members of the well-connected elite, not to mention the plebes with false consciousness lined up along the walls and crowding the sweltering stone steps outside... I welcome you to the spectacle that is the funeral of our beloved Katharine Graham. Kay to us, Katharine to the world, and Mrs. G to her underpaid maid and employees at the venerable Washington Post.
I suppose, being as I am the most famous Secretary of State this great country of ours has ever produced, you all know me, but for those ignorant among you (and possibly enemies of the United States and her allies, and more important, my lucrative consulting business), let me say once and for all that I am Henry, nay, Doctor Henry Kissinger, otherwise known as the man who can charge fifty grand for a breakfast. (But I do make a mean omelet.)
We have a great show today -- I mean, we've gathered here for a solemn occasion. Speaking of solemn, I am reminded of the time I was growing up a poor boy in Europe... but perhaps that anecdote should be left for the graveside gathering, as I notice Donald Graham is pantomiming a sort of garroting maneuver eerily redolent of the methods employed by thugs we bankrolled in Chile to kill thousands of leftist subversive pinko low-lifes.
You're right, Donald, today's not about me, yet I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the importance of being invited to speak here. Were it not for such implied respectability, my life would be much harder as a confirmed war criminal with the blood of innocent civilians in Southeast Asia, junta-ruled Greece and Cyprus... too many to count really. I wonder how I sleep sometimes. But anyway, gestures like this help tremendously. Perhaps co-eulogist and unabashed monopolist Bill Gates feels the same way, or maybe I'm exaggerating. In any event, Donald, I am much obliged, and please keep running my half-page ramblings on foreign policy on the op-ed page. Without them I suspect I'd have to cut down to three maids from four.
But enough. Now Kay. Kay was one of us. Of this world of fragrant lounges and tailored suits and engraved invitations and midnight limos and all that. The good life, as Ben Bradlee would say. And yet he could be one of them too. Let us remember how she called the newsroom from her car one day to report that a building off Dupont Circle was on fire. How she could yell at her driver for creasing her skirt by braking too hard and give directions to the terrified metro editor over the phone simultaneously. How she stepped out of the shower to take a call from President Reagan and took notes with an actual pencil while the maid dried her off. The maid who broke both legs in 1982 while cleaning the dangling chandelier in the foyer of Kay's Georgetown home, forcing Kay to walk two blocks that day to buy French bread from her favorite charcuterie. In 1985 Kay also took a walk to pick up her own dry cleaning, though nobody knows why.
It's impossible to pigeonhole her. The Watergate-busting Kay. The union-busting Kay. Above all, perhaps, the gracious host of parties attended by many of you sitting up front today as well others joining us via satellite. Helloooo Berlin, London, Paris, we love you! Okay, that was a nice wave, you may all sit down. I was always invited to these exclusive soirees, of course, along with other notables whose job it is to transfer money from the many to the pockets of the few. Some may have questioned the fourth estate's association with such awe-inspiring power, but Kay, a tough broad, never gave a damn. Some also questioned the Pulitzer she got; well, let me tell you something as a Nobel Prize winner, we don't care what you think. Unless you want to hire my firm to figure out how to establish your Asian sweatshops and pass your legislation -- then I do care what you think.
All right, Donald's motioning that I must perhaps stop. I will surrender the podium to Washington Post columnist and Newsweek contributing editor Lally Weymouth now -- Kay's daughter and favorite nepotistic project. You may know Lally from such human-rights-abuser-coddling interviews and columns as "Ariel Sharon and His Two-Week-Old Kitten" and "A Woman Prime Minister with Ties to Death Squads Is What Turkey Needs Right Now." Lally's draft memoir, "I Travel First Class," is currently on the market for a publisher, so if anyone in the audience owns a publishing house and needs a favorable editorial printed in the Post, now's your chance.
Carpe diem, folks. Carpe diem. It's what Kay did. Oh and how. Okay, Donald, I really am coming down now. Sheesh, I was just getting warmed up.
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