Greetings from Scranton

by: Stephen Corbett

Dear President Biden, Greetings from Scranton, Joey! You don’t mind if I call you Joey, do you? I turn 70 in June and have first cousins here who still call me Stevie. And we still call that lug of a Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. we’re stuck with “our Bobby.” 

Watch that guy. The day before Christmas I caught him skulking outside his house in our Hill Section neighborhood without a mask. 

Nobody calls my thick congressman Matt Cartwright “Matty,” though, because he married into one of Scranton’s political and legal royal families.

Not like us, pal. 

Our working-class blood lines run deep as the anthracite coal veins our families used to mine here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Ha-ha. I killed you on my radio show over your telling that particular lie about having coal miners in your family (your great-grandfather was a state senator, for Christ’s sake) but it helped elect you president because hard coal country voters bought your manly manure hook, line and stinker. 

My grandfather immigrated to Scranton from Ireland, mined coal underground for 45 years and died from black lung disease. Big Jim would stick a work boot up your blarney butt if he were still alive to hear that whopper. 

Anyway, the reason I’m writing is because your press office is giving me the high hat. Do you believe it, me, just another scrappy kid from Scranton, getting ignored by that pack of Washington yes-people who probably never set foot in Scranton? These bootlickers are not making it easy for me to embrace you as a hometown hero the way too many Scranton lickspittles do. 

Unless things change, how do you expect me to do my job as Scranton’s White House correspondent? You don’t need to congratulate me on the new position, by the way. Somebody’s got to do it. 

All I did was ask four simple questions: Were you baptized in Scranton? Where? When? And who are your godparents? You know as well as anybody how Scranton Catholics (particularly sentimental Irish Americans) are interested in sacred blather like that. 

But I think I put the nail in the box with this one: Do you still endorse the sexist Lackawanna County Friendly Sons of St. Patrick policy to bar women from the lads’ annual dinner? You remember that gala segregated event, Joey, the one you attended three times as featured speaker? Bet Kamila would kick your lily-white arse if she knew you frequented those white power meetings. She’s definitely no longer that little girl you tried to keep off the school bus. 

The lads held their 115 th annual dinner online this year. And they allowed Scranton’s first woman mayor to offer a video greeting, the first time a woman ever addressed these bigoted bog-trotters. But we’ll see if they let her or any other woman into the banquet hall next year when they’ll have to greet her in person as an equal. I can’t imagine how they’ll handle other gender identity issues. Can a banshee or leprechaun be trans? 

So what’s the deal, man? Casey and Cartwright also refuse to answer my questions about their sexist and racist support for the dinner’s white supremacy. I expect as much from these two wankers, but you, Joey? 

Being blackballed by democracy smothers the American Way. 

You might remember me, by the way. You called my radio show when you were in town back in 2008 trying to sell your memoir. You told me how you listened to my show at night when you got homesick in your lonely Senate office even though you never heard of me until my buddy McAndrew spotted you at the bookstore and talked you into calling me. 

So your staff sure surprised me when they barred me from a fundraiser at the Scranton Hilton the day you showed up with your hand out as vice president looking to raise cash for the Democratic Party. I explained to your assistant and director of communications Jay Carney (later to serve as President Obama’s press secretary) that only a dummy would bar a prominent Scranton radio talk show host in Biden’s hometown from a speech by “our Joey.” I soon strolled into the meeting of business stiffs and left within minutes due to an acute attack of mind-numbing boredom. 

We also met face-to-face when you showed up at Jimmy Pliska’s house in Duryea after the 2011 flood. Jimmy’s a great guy, a terrific mechanic who used to work on my old Jeep. Although you really should have known better, you humiliated this hard-working family man by arguing how he needed to rebuild after he made one of the most heart-wrenching decisions in his life to walk away from his family homestead. But you kept pushing by asking if his father and grandfather would “quit.” Jimmy had tears in his eyes. And when I stood at the back of a gutted room glaring at you for being such a goof, you looked at me and said, “You can smile, Dr. Death.” 

I left quietly before creating an international incident. 

Then last year I voted for you because Kamala offered hope and Trump danced naked with the devil. 

That’s why I’m withholding my support from the local push to name a second Scranton street in your honor. City officials already named one in your old Green Ridge neighborhood after you. For some reason they believe you need another. 

Come to think of it, the first street name missed the mark. Instead of a classy lace curtain avenue or boulevard, “Joe Biden Way” sounds like the name of a geriatric stool softener. Got gastro-intestinal distress? Joe Biden Way puts you on the road to relief. Help is on the way! 

I’m also thinking we might be cousins cut from the same cloth, you and me. Like I said, my tribe has loads of blood cousins and even more through marriage. People have been claiming family ties to you ever since you made Scranton the center of the political universe during the campaign, so I figured we could find some relationship lurking up there like a demented leprechaun in the gnarled branches of your twisted family tree. 

But unless we get this stonewalling straightened out, we’ll never do interviews together to tell people the truth about government corruption and social injustice. I’ll have to keep asking you hard questions, of course, even if we’re related. That’s what good news columnists do if they have the backbone to go to war with elites and the system, a trait Scranton mainstream columnists lack.   

No matter how this turns out, I’m still pulling for you, champ. There’s nothing better than equal opportunity, good government and an aggressive press, especially in your old hometown. 

That’s no malarkey, Joey.

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