another one bites the dust

So last week Claiborne Pell died. This Providence Journal article from 1995 is a good summary of the career of the former US Senator from Rhode Island (surprising, given what a shit publication it is). A relevant quote:

“It’s very fundamental in politics to be what you are,” says Sen. John H. Chafee. “‘To thine own self be true.’ Don’t be out there dropping your g’s and trying to get into a ‘dese and dose’ way of speaking to be one of the guys.”

But perhaps more germane to Poetariat’s interests was Pell’s suitably Lovecraftian interest in the paranormal. From this Discover article on the reverse speech phenomenon:

A couple of years ago Oates met with C. B. Scott Jones, a former Navy fighter pilot who was on the staff of Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island. Thanks to a demonstration using his own speech, Scott Jones was convinced that Oates has really got something here. A few months later, during the Gulf crisis, Oates told him that press conferences and speeches of high U.S. officials, when played backward, kept yielding the name Simone. Scott Jones wrote Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, warning him that if Simone was a code word, the cat was out of the bag (or, at least, the tac was out of the gab).

One thing that was soon playing backward in Washington was Scott Jones’s career on Capitol Hill. Pell, a Democrat facing a fight for reelection, dropped him. Now Scott Jones heads the Human Potential Foundation, whose mission, he says, is to fund research that is not being funded anywhere else.

Scott Jones has no hard feelings. Some hotshot Republican wanted to make Pell look bad, he says. If you’re serious about trying to find where the edge is, you’ve got to take some scar tissue. Oddly enough, Pell won reelection anyway–perhaps because his opponent, Claudine Schneider, is best known to millions of insomniac Americans as the congresswoman on the infomercial for personal power tapes from Tony Robbins. Evidently Rhode Island voters preferred Hitler backward to Tony Robbins forward, and, fellow citizen, that was their right as Americans.

As for Simone, Oates says, you have to remember that the Gulf War was dubbed Operation Desert Storm. And the word for Desert Storm in Arabic? Simoom.

If I recall correctly, rational individuals eventually concluded that it was only a case of pareidolia, and that “Simone” was merely a reversal of the word “enormous.”

Anyway, to rework that old joke about country music: What happens when you play Dick Cheney backwards? You get your economy back, you get your Constitution back, you get New Orleans back, you get the World Trade Center back…

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