Savage’s 'Psychological Nudity' Bares More Than Politics
By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
Michael Savage lives up to the title of his nationally syndicated talk show, “The Savage Nation,” not only on the airwaves but also in his new book, “Psychological Nudity,” which he says he wrote to be a little contrary.
He is one of the top radio talk show hosts in the nation, and his listeners are familiar with his political priorities, which can be expressed in three words: borders, language, and culture.
Savage, whose show airs on Talk Radio Network, has a unique way of delivering to his listeners his perspective on current events while weaving a tapestry of topics into discussions. He has a knack to make all things interesting: history, religion, culture, politics, nutrition, psychology, sports, and cuisine.
The gifted storyteller has written more than 25 books, including the New York Times bestsellers “The Savage Nation,” “The Enemy Within,” “Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder,” and “The Political Zoo.”
“Psychological Nudity” assembles 75 stories from his own life, a group of tales with intriguing titles such as “Dead Man’s Pants,” “One Armed Frank,” “Love by the Sewer Plant,” and “Talking to a Bum about God,” and recounts them in his inimitable stream-of-consciousness style.
Savage recently sat down with Newmax to discuss his new book and to offer his unique take on the presidential campaign.
Newsmax: Why did you decide to write a book of an autobiographical nature?
Savage: The answer is because of the political season; I knew we would be oversaturated with politics, and I figured that I needed to do something contrary. I’ve done four political books in a row. And I didn’t want to do just an Obama-bashing book, so to speak, which is basically all you’re going to see.
The second part of it is, I think people wanted a collection of my radio stories, and so there are five stories from the radio that I’ve told over the last decade and a half that are sort of the favorites. It’s like Frank Sinatra sings his favorite songs.
Newsmax: This book talks about experience. Are these stories that are favorites of your listeners all from your life?
Savage: Yes, sir.
Newsmax: So these are true stories, true characters?
Savage: Yes, every one in there. Well, let’s put it this way. I put a disclaimer in the book. I think the disclaimer says, “Anyone who thinks that any of the characters represented in this book are real should immediately dial 911 and ask for a psychiatrist.”
Newsmax: Great, and you’ll pay for the fees?
Savage: [Laughs] I’m not saying I’ll pay for the therapy.
Newsmax: Of all of these classic stories, which one is your favorite? The favorite one you like to tell of all of these.
Savage: That’s an interesting question. “Dead Man’s Pants,” “Tippy the Dog Dies and Is Thrown in a Garbage Truck,” and “Cleaning Bronzes In My Dad’s Basement”: Those three are sort of classic Dickens-like stories and unique in the sense that I don’t think many other people have experienced those elements in their life.
Newsmax: Do you feel that each of the stories has a moral connected with it, or a teaching component?
Savage: Not really. It’s not that preachy. In fact, it’s interesting you should ask that because I originally had an agent who sold this book to a major New York publisher for a very large advance, and we were about to contract and the publisher kept saying to me, “I want you to take every story and make a political point at the end of it, tie it to politics.” I said, “That’s ludicrous.” That would be like asking Mark Twain to talk about Tom Sawyer and then conclude by saying Tom Sawyer would have voted for (John) McCain. You can’t do that. It’s arbitrary. So there may be morals to some stories, but most don’t have any preachy tagline to them. They’re written as story stories. So if I talk about “Dead Man’s Pants,” for example, we were poor, dad was a secondhand dealer, some antiques. He’d buy estates, and part of the estate sale would include the dead man’s clothing. You know, what widow wants her husband’s pants or clothing, right?
Savage: So he’d go in, he’d get the entire lot, which included clothes. And as he was unpacking them, as I helped him unpack in his market, I dreaded the moment that always came when he would say, “Look at this suit. Look at the material in this suit. It’s a Hart, Shaffner and Marx,” I knew what was coming because, within a few days, the pants came back cut off at the knee with a cuff on them, and they were my pants. And what kid wants to wear a dead man’s pants that basically were not tailored, just shortened.
Newsmax: I’ve got to ask you about one title, because I don’t recall hearing it on the air — “Talking To A Bum About God.” I really like that title; it intrigues me.
Savage: It’s in the book, and it is about a man named Morris. But he wasn’t a kind of disheveled, homeless type. He was what you might call in the older days, what did they call them? A vagabond. He was more like a vagabond than a bum. In other words, he was clean, with a long hair-type of thing. He was an old hippie, in other words, who was clean. But he was very old, and he had a back sack, and we talked. And he had shining, deep blue eyes, and I don’t know why but I said to him, “Do you believe in God?” He looked at me stunned and amused, and he peered into me and he said, “Why? Did you create yourself?” And in that moment I had a complete understanding of what it was all about. I mean, it almost cut through everything I’ve ever read theologically. It doesn’t answer the atheists, I understand that.
Newsmax: There is a wisdom in that terse, short, direct answer.
Savage: Yes. “Why? Did you create yourself?” And immediately I understood what he was getting at, which is, my God, he’s right. How can we sit and presuppose we know more than the Creator or creation, so to speak?
Newsmax: It does seem like it takes a little bit of arrogance to be a true atheist.
Savage: Well, as I say to some of the listeners, when they say that they don’t believe in anything, I say, “Ah ha, so you believe in something.” And they say, “What do you mean?” I say, “Well, you believe in nothing; that’s believing in something.”
Newsmax: Now this is a perfect segue from religion to politics. Your book also contains political commentaries.
Savage: Yes, “What if John McCain’s Middle Name Was Jesus” is the best one.
Newsmax: Tell me about it.
Savage: Well, remember Barack Hussein Obama, the controversy when people started quoting his second name, his middle name, Hussein?
Newsmax: Yes, I do.
Savage: And I said, “Wait a minute. Why can’t we ask that question?” It’s a Muslim name. We just deposed Saddam Hussein. We’d like to know why his [Obama’s] middle name was the same and he claims he’s not a Muslim. Why is that off base when if John McCain’s middle name was Jesus; what if it was John Jesus McCain. Don’t you think that the midstream media would be saying, “Wait a minute, his middle name is Jesus. Is he a Jesus freak?”
Newsmax: About your political commentary on man-induced global warming; I’m sure you have a special Savage approach to dealing with the Al Gore view of the future.
Savage: Well, so many scientists have finally come out, and they have said we’re staking our career on the fact that we’re going into global cooling. In fact, there was an article last week from a major scientist who said that this phase is over and we’re actually going through a slight global cooling. But you and I both know that we’re in an interglacial phase, that the norm on the Earth has been ice ages, and that interspersed between ice ages are warming stages during which civilization has expanded because in the heat, plants grow – more food, more people, more animal life.
And it’s only through global warming that we’ve actually had a blossoming of civilization when Gore, the idiot, doesn’t realize that, if we actually induce global cooling, which I don’t think we can do, plants would start to die off, masses of people would starve, and civilizations would collapse.
Newsmax: One of your commentaries is titled “Republicans Should Treat Voters Like Restaurant Customers.” I’ve heard you talk about this, but what do you mean?
Savage: Well, that’s the problem with Republicans, isn’t it? I mean it’s psychological nudity. What I’m doing here is saying look, if I go in a favorite restaurant and they start to ignore me but they kiss the behind of the guy who walks in off the street, I get pissed off. Why are they spending so much time on a guy off the street instead of on me, a regular customer? It’s the same with Republicans. If they start to take you for granted, you get mad at them. They’ve got to cultivate the base, not take the base for granted. And I think that’s the problem with the Republicans. They’ve assumed you’ve got nowhere else to go, when in this election that is true up to a point. Most conservatives will never vote for Obama, but they’re still not 100 percent sure they should vote for McCain, who’s a middle-of-the-road guy. (Sarah) Palin certainly changed the quotient in that she’s a real, true, you know, Annie Oakley western lady, but of course she’s not going to set policy. Nevertheless, McCain on the face is a middle-of-the-road guy.
Anyway, my point is broader, which is that they are avoiding the core base like the plague, and they are treating the core base in a derogatory manner.
Newsmax: As you pointed out, you called Sarah Palin an Annie Oakley. Palin has fired up the core base, and she is now touring and campaigning with McCain. And a lot of conservatives take great comfort in the fact that John McCain chose her.
Savage: Well, who chose her for him is the real question.
Newsmax: What’s your take on Sarah Palin besides the Annie Oakley comment? What do you think of her?
Savage: I don’t know anything about her other than what I have seen over the last two weeks. I mean, how can you not support her position? We do. But to turn her into the Virgin Mary virtually overnight I thought was ludicrous, and I even said so on the show. And I got a lot of flack for it from the true believers. I said, “Wait a minute, slow down.” She may be a fine person and conservative and all that, but this is reminding me of Guatemalans who after a rainstorm gather around the puddle and say, “My God, there’s the Virgin Mary in the puddle.”
Newsmax: What do you think about the way the media have treated Sarah Palin?
Savage: Utter hypocrisy and embarrassing. Terrible. For years we’ve heard from the feminists that a woman can do it all – women fly, women this, women shoot, women can be cops, women can do it all – and now that there’s a real woman doing it all, meaning mother and career, she can’t do it? It seems to me, what? Only Democrat women can do it all, but Republican women can’t? Ludicrous. And it’s turned a lot of women against the Democrats, by the way. Well, you know that. I know Democrat women who were so pissed off at the hypocrisy of the media that they’re not going to vote for Obama; they’re going to vote for McCain. It’s definitely tilted the scale in McCain’s favor.
Newsmax: She seems to be very tough.
Savage: She’s a firebrand. She just might be the right stuff, and I think she certainly is a good choice for John McCain because the polls show that tons of women have moved in her direction.
Newsmax: Do you think she’s affected Barack Obama’s psyche?
Savage: Yes, absolutely, in one major way. He was the center of attention; he’s a narcissist and he’s used to being adored. The minute she came along and she became the center of attention, the narcissist in him started to flail out and make mistakes, such as the pig and the lipstick comment, which I spent the whole show on, analyzing him, claiming he has an Oedipal complex and he has a woman problem. But that’s a little off topic here. Absolutely, she is upsetting him because she is now the center of attention, not him. And like a petulant adolescent, he’s starting to look very, very, very boyish and he’s also starting to say things that are not very presidential.
Newsmax: You’re giving him a little psychoanalysis.
Savage: Oh yeah, I spent all day on this yesterday, on the Oedipal complex, and what it means from a Freudian perspective, and why he has a woman problem. It’s a fact that his mother was flighty and often abandoned him to pursue other men, to pursue men and her studies, and left him with the grandparents. He’s always been sort of like an abandoned boy.
Newsmax: What’s your prediction for the election?
Savage: Oh, God. I can make an easy prediction and I can easily be wrong. My prediction is McCain wins by a fairly large number. The latest polling shows that seven or eight out of 10 people still consider terrorism the number one issue. I just saw that today. And given that we have a clear choice here between a fallen Navy pilot whose loyalty and credentials on national security are as good as they get, and then we have an unknown man. And as I put it on the show in succinct terms, we have a choice here between a man who fired rockets from an airplane against our enemies and a man who shot staples into telephone poles in Chicago. It sounds simplistic, but it’s true. In an age of terrorism, would you rather have a community organizer who shot staples into telephone poles or a former Navy pilot who was shot down and spent five years in a prisoner of war camp? You know, you’ve got to admire this old geezer.
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