The meeting took a couple weeks to arrange through a shadowy intermediary. Terms and conditions were negotiated. We met at an undisclosed location, and eventually found ourselves talking – in low, conspiratorial tones – in a dim basement room with a single light.
My contact wore a press-on mustache, wig and dark glasses. Really. He would not tell me his name, even when I promised not to reveal it to anyone. “In my world,” he said, “there’s no such thing as off the record.”
We were there to discuss a secret whose mystery, ultimately, I was not able to penetrate. A mystery that has been intriguing and amusing the Spokane online world for a while now. A mystery that goes by the name soccermomsusie.
In case you don’t know, Susie is the online name of a cranky, prolific, George W. Bush-loving, Obama-hating, Bible-misquoting, exclamation-point-and- ALL-CAPS-deployment specialist – a deft satirical voice that skewers a certain kind of online blowhard.
Here she is, opining about a Spokesman-Review story about higher education costs: “Education = Elitism. Haven’t we had enough of educated people running our country, performing our surgeries, flying our airplanes, designing our bridges, etc? How much education does Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck have? Not very much I would think. Yet, they speak for our nation because THEY ARE NOT EGGHEADS! Are the elitists considered “smart” just because everything they say contradicts the way I feel? All you need is ONE BOOK (the Bible or something from Ann Coulter) and an AM radio. Two turntables and a microphone? I don’t think so! HEAR OUR VOICE!!!”
Soccermomsusie has taken the dispossessed rage of the far right, the tone and nature of anonymous online commentary, and the potential ironies of both to create a running commentary. She’s not the only one doing this – there’s a pretty funny Twitter account called AngryNIdaho – but she’s doing it well, using a kaleidoscopic barrage of ironies that sometimes makes it tough for people to figure out whether she’s serious. Just how funny you find this depends on how seriously you take the tea party – her detractors make their feelings known on any given comment thread at this paper’s website.
Susie started commenting at spokesman.com a couple of years ago. In the last of couple months, she’s migrated to Twitter, where she is a natural, sometimes needling politicians like Cathy McMorris Rodgers directly: “@cathymcmorris Cathy, thanks for standing up against union workers who ridiculously ran back into the WTC on 9-11. Thanks for the oligarchy!”
But who is she? Is she even a she? Does it matter? I tried to contact her and see if I could find out. I heard back from her “sensible nephew” – who she sometimes refers to as a “libitard.” He said he’d meet with me on Susie’s behalf.
Let me make this clear: At no point did I make it through the façade. At no time did anyone drop out of character. Not only did I get nowhere near the truth, I was dragged even further into this fiction.
Which was kind of fun.
The “nephew” showed up in the aforementioned disguise. Susie, he said in a hushed manner, was a program designed during the Nixon administration to employ language to move the population rightward. The strategy is to mainstream and euphemize ideas to make them more palatable – something like renaming torture, which is illegal and inhumane, as enhanced interrogation, which sounds like you’re getting a bonus. Susie was mothballed after the Nixon administration, he said, but mysteriously has arisen – and perhaps even become “self-aware” – in the realm of social media.
Susie’s guiding principle is that George W. Bush was the best president ever – “the man who was smart enough to keep all his wars off the books, so it didn’t cost anybody anything, except for some human lives.”
She hates the aquifer, for some reason. She loves a certain view of the Bible that supports low taxes for the “blessed” rich. She celebrated the birthday of the Constitution with gin and Geritol. She insists that government keep its hands off her Medicare. She lacks a certain sensitivity on matters of race. She calls the president Barry O’Kenyan – “a slight against the Irish people and the Kenyan people.”
If you find yourself having to wade through much online commentary, Susie is oil on the water, a satirical lance pricking the boil of self-righteousness, cognitive dissonance and runaway capitalization. Sensible Nephew suggests that she’s not the only conservative voice out there with some ulterior motivation.
“The one that has us befuddled is George McGrath,” he said, referring to the local talk-radio host and weekly critic of the City Council. “We kind of think he might be a Manchurian Candidate. Every Monday, a phone rings in his house at 5:30 and he hears a series of faxlike sounds, and he’s programmed to go down to City Hall.”
Like so much of what soccermomsusie has to say, that is awesomely ridiculous. Delightfully absurd. Like a press-on mustache and a skewed wig. A ludicrous disguise, meant to be seen through.
HEAR HER VOICE!