Mulhall column: Kurt Russell didn’t say that
In an old episode of Cheers, Cliff Clavin finds himself the run-away winner in Jeopardy! and goes all-in on the final jeopardy category, “Movies.”
As Alex Trebek reads the Final Jeopardy answer—“Archibald Leach, Bernard Schwarz, and Lucille LeSueur”—Cliff begins fidgeting and breaks out in flop sweat before finally writing, “Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?”
That scene leapt to mind the other day when on social media a friend I’ve known since kindergarten posted a glaring example of social media intelligence run amok.
She had privately posted a passage attributed to Charles Krauthammer to her Facebook timeline so she could read it at her leisure.
When she got around to it later that day, Facebook had attached a notice to her private post that simply said, “Kurt Russell didn’t say that.”
The late Charles Krauthammer was and is an imminently quote-worthy guy, which got me wondering what Krauthammer might have written to make a Facebook fact check miss widely enough to hit Kurt Russell.
No slight on Kurt, mind you, but he plays his political views close to the chest—far closer than Dr. Krauthammer ever did.
With what Russell has said publicly on quasi-political subjects, which isn’t much, I’ve found myself mostly in agreement. It’s fair to say, though, that when it comes to airing political views, Kurt Russell is no Charles Krauthammer, and that’s both a rare and admirable trait for an actor.
I never had the good fortune to meet either Krauthammer or Russell, though I did play soccer against Russell in the 1970s.
I was 16 and Russell was probably 25 when I first stepped on the Wagner Park pitch against him.
Games between Glenwood and Aspen were a parade of opposites, Aspen in their two-tone collared jerseys with matching shorts and knee-high sox, and Glenwood in our thread-bare, battleship gray Glenwood Post t-shirts and whatever pair of gym shorts smelled cleanest that day.
Add to that all the pre-game chatter about playing against a Hollywood celebrity and matches against Aspen took on a weird importance, even though Russell’s roles in “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” and “The Barefoot Executive” were hardly Brando-esque.
What Russell may have lacked in acting opportunities he made up for in athletic skill, for Aspen played him at forward, the position on any squad reserved for the crème de la crème. As one of Glenwood’s defenders, I often found myself pitted against him.
A soccer pitch isn’t a particularly great place to burn in a meaningful connection, but Russell did strike me as a decent guy—far less annoying than some of the other personalities on the field who, despite playing 1970s amateur soccer, believed themselves true gifts to the game.
That was as close, really, as my path ever came to crossing Kurt Russell’s, though in the last few years I have observed from a distance a sliver of his character most people would never see.
He’s a good man.
While I was piddling around playing soccer in the 70s, Charles Krauthammer was busy forging a career as a writer and columnist that would eventually land him a speech-writing gig with Vice President Walter Mondale.
By 1987, Krauthammer had earned a Pulitzer as a Washington Post columnist, and from 1990 to 2013, he was a regular on PBS’s Inside Washington. Until a cancer diagnosis in 2017, he often appeared on FOX News Channel’s Special Report.
On June 8, 2018, Krauthammer wrote a moving letter to his readers and viewers. It was a poignant goodbye. Two weeks later he perished.
About twenty years before his death, Krauthhammer wrote, “To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.”
This is but one of an entire constellation of aphorisms dictated or spoken by Krauthammer. I cannot think of a single one by Russell, even through character, that even comes close, although “Skin that smoke wagon and we’ll see what happens” does come to mind.
So, what in the name of Steven Paul Jobs would cause an Artificial Intelligence foul so irregular as to conflate Charles Krauthammer and Kurt Russell?
Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg hired Cliff Clavin as a consultant.
Mitch Mulhall is a husband, father and longtime Roaring Fork Valley resident. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent and at postindependent.com
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