By: E&P Staff
Robert C. Koehler had a unique perspective on Art Buchwald, who died last week. Like Buchwald did, Koehler writes a column for Tribune Media Services. And he’s also a TMS editor who edited Buchwald’s newspaper pieces.
So Koehler, in today’s installment of his weekly TMS feature, had plenty to say about the late political humorist.
“I’m still waiting for Art Buchwald’s next column,” Koehler wrote. “If I had any decent sources in heaven I’d ask them to get me an interview with him, just to check in, see how the first week went and find out when he’s going to start writing again. But he was the one with all the great sources — at the White House, the CIA, the Kremlin, wherever.”
Koehler went on to discuss Buchwald’s miraculous departure from a hospice last year, after which Buchwald wrote his final book and resumed his TMS column. “This is where I come in,” Koehler wrote. “I was his editor for the final six and a half … years, and therefore had a front row seat, of sorts, for Art’s miracle year.
“Funny thing about miracles. Even when you know one’s occurring right in front of your nose, you start taking it for granted. So gradually I got used to the idea of Art’s wielding his delicate shiv again — on Bush, the war, the national debt, the nation’s seasonal foibles. …”
“So as I sit at my computer waiting for Art’s deadpan take on, say, the president’s State of the Union message, and as awareness dawns that it’s not going to come, the miracle of the past year — when his kidneys defied medical prognosis, when he was the man who wouldn’t die, when he made us laugh about both the here and now and the hereafter — hits me with sudden grief. …”
The TMS writer also discussed how he became a straight man in a 2001 Buchwald column about the place of humor after 9/11. Buchwald had written: “I told Bob Koehler, my editor, ‘I have permission to make people laugh, but I have no idea what they will laugh at.'”
Koehler today took up the story from there: “I should point out that, technically, this was a fictitious Bob Koehler who responded, ‘You are suffering from an irony crisis,’ cautioned him against flying jokes, and suggested that he could have a go at Osama’s beard. ‘I’ also counseled: ‘The only way we’re going to beat the terrorists is to go back to normal times.’ I’ll counsel that again, but of course I mean Buchwald normal.”