I am Lance. Lance I am.

Rush Holt reads to kids
Rush Holt reads House Mouse, Senate Mouse

A few days ago, central Jersey congressmen Rush Holt and Leonard Lance went back to school to read to kids. Special occasion was Read Across America Week, an NEA (those despicable teachers and their bothersome union) event celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday – today. Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Rush Holt, sitting cross-legged on the floor in a very serious, grownup suit and tie, read House Mouse, Senate Mouse. Leonard Lance, in a chair but leaning towards his students, read Dr. Seuss.

And that makes me wonder this Seussical Day whether my increasingly right-wing congressman Lance knew he was indoctrinating his little whippersnappers with some very volatile stuff. Equality. Tolerance. Democracy. Oh, no! See …

Leonard Lance reads The Cat in the Hat
Leonard Lance reads Dr. Seuss

The Lorax was about conservation for little tree-huggers – anti-capitalist propaganda, by Seuss’ own definition – which the logging industry felt compelled to answer 20 years later with their own Truax about “forest management” (worst children’s book ever?). The Sneetches tackled racism and anti-Semitism. (NATO used it in Bosnia in 1998). Horton Hears a Who was about post-war occupation of Japan. (A verse in it – “even though you can’t see or hear them at all, a person’s a person, no matter how small” – was co-opted by the anti-abortion right, which pissed off both Geisel and his wife, who threatened to sue). The Butter Battle Book was about the nuclear arms race every bit as pointed as Dr. Strangelove. In Yertle the Turtle, Yertle was Hitler, the turtle borrowed from his own early cartoons at the progressive PM and the pond the site of Yertle’s Hitler-like cruel rule. The PBS doc The Political Dr. Seuss has more on this, including his WWII-era editorial cartoons for the lefty NYC newspaper PM.

Why, in 1974, Dr. Seuss helped political columnist Art Buchwald tell Richard Nixon it was time to resign. Seuss rewrote “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!” – his own book for early readers – crossing out Marvin K. Mooney and scribbling in Richard M. Nixon. Buchwald published Seuss’s altered text in his syndicated column. Nixon resigned 9 days later.

Now, I’m fine with this. I like it when the little crowd gets rhyme-y parables about equality, tolerance and democracy. Woo hoo! But Lou Dobbs (who lives up in Sussex County) sees dastardly Hollywood indoctrination in the animated The Lorax that opens today in theaters (oooh, Occupy Wall Street for the kiddies, oooh…). And Lance and Dobbs agree on … a lot of stuff.

If you’re wondering if I thought about writing this post in anapestic tetrameter, like Dr. Seuss, you know me only too well. But everything I came up with was very dirty (it’s Friday). Extra credit, and my admiration, for Comments Dr. Seuss-style below. Just keep it clean and play nice. Little pitchers have big ears. Here’s how Dr. Seuss did it.

Comments (5)

  1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)
  2. Bertin Lefkovic

    Actually, two things.  I never knew that Horton Hears a Who was about Postwar Japan and Marvin K. Mooney was Nixon.  I will have to see if it is in the anthology that I have in my children’s room.

    I only learned recently that Yertle the Turtle was about Hitler and Naziism and read it for the first time a few weeks ago.  I never even heard of the Butter Battle Book until recently and have yet to come across it in any library.

    Am I the only person who is somewhat concerned about the feature-length version of the Lorax that opens today?  There is already a 20-something minute animated version of the story that tells it as well as it needs to be told.  I am not sure if this new version is necessary, much less beneficial.  I hope that my concerns are proven to be unfounded.

  3. Hopeful

    and there was very little of Dr. Seuss’s spirit in it. But the again, I haven’t read the book in decades and I only saw the preview.

  4. Bertin Lefkovic

    That is the sense that I got from the trailer.  It just did not feel like Dr. Seuss, particularly with Danny DeVito’s voice as The Lorax.  I could see him more as the Once-ler than The Lorax.  Maybe it is a good thing that I am going into this with such low expectations.  Hopefully, I will be pleasantly surprised.  I think that if I went into this with high expectations, I would be very disappointed.

    On a somewhat related, but mostly unrelated point, has anyone seen the commercials for the HBO Films adaptation of the book about the 2008 elections, “Game Change”?  Am I the only person who is really pissed off about the fact that they chose to take a phenomenal book about both the Democratic and Republican primary elections and the general election and focus almost entirely on the Sarah Palin part of the story?  I am going to watch it, but I don’t expect to like it.

  5. Bertin Lefkovic

    The movie was as bad as I expected it to be.  What is even more horrifying is that millions of Blu-Ray and DVD copies of a movie that is supposed to be about protecting the environment is going to be littering our planet for decades to come.  If the distributors of this film have a heart, soul, and/or a clue, they would only make this movie available via download or streaming media.


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