The New Improved Cardiff Giant

In October, 1869, there came news that workmen digging a well at a farm in Cardiff, a town near Syracuse, New York, had uncovered a petrified 12-foot giant.

The owner of the farm erected a huge tent over the giant and was soon charging people a quarter to see the attraction. Soon, the price went to 50 cents, and still the crowds came. When a group of Syracuse businessmen offered the farmer the fantastic sum of $37,500 for the giant, he sold.

It turned out to be a good investment because once the giant was placed on display in a Syracuse store front, the local economy enjoyed a boom. Eventually there came a day when archaeologists examined the giant and announced it to be a fraud. At which point, a factory owner named George Hull admitted that he had commissioned the hoax in order to prove how gullible Americans were.

Americans may be gullible, but they know what they want to see, be it the Cardiff Giant or the Kardashians. And so the crowds of tourists continued to line up.

It was at this point that P.T. Barnum, who was seeking a major attraction because his American Museum in New York had recently burned down, offered to take the giant off their hands for $60,000. When his offer was rebuffed, the great showman decided to commission his own replica. When it was built, he advertised it as the real Cardiff Giant, insisting that the original was a fake. In response, it was one of the Syracuse businessmen, not Barnum, who observed that there’s a sucker born every minute.

Although he didn’t utter the famous line that is usually attributed to him, Barnum did say: “The American people love to be humbugged.”

And it was that bit of folk wisdom that L. Frank Baum, who had watched the hoax unfold, employed when he eventually wrote “The Wizard of Oz.” When Dorothy’s little dog Toto pulls aside the curtain to reveal that the great and powerful Oz is nothing but a little old man who created his terrifying illusions with wires, smoke and ventriloquism, he sadly confesses, “I am a humbug.”

The Scarecrow scolds the con man, telling him he should be ashamed of himself for deluding Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the citizens of the Emerald City. To which, the erstwhile wizard replies, “I am. I certainly am. But it was the only thing I could do. The people were eager to be deluded and were willing to do anything I wished them to do.”

I would suggest that Barack Obama is our own Cardiff Giant. The people — particularly white Americans — were eager to be deluded by a black man who promised to absolve them of their historical guilt. In vowing to be the first post-racial president, this man, half white/part Arab, gave the impression that a vote for him would automatically erase a shameful history that included two centuries of slavery and roughly one century of Jim Crow laws.

But just like those other two earlier frauds, he was nothing more than a humbug that had been cobbled together in a Chicago cellar by certain interested parties, including the likes of David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, Van Jones, William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright and George Soros.

And just as their ancestors had done, large numbers of gullible Americans lined up to hand over their quarters and half dollars, not to mention their votes, and gaze in wonder at the big phony.

In a related matter, I just heard that in his preparation for the presidential debates, Obama has decided to have John Kerry represent Mitt Romney. It is Kerry’s contention that being from Massachusetts, the state that Romney governed for four years, nobody is in a better position to know what he is likely to say. Offhand, I would have thought that Kerry was better suited to run in a stakes race than to stand in for Romney. After all, when it comes to politics, he is strictly a horse’s patootie, while, if you judged him solely by his looks, you would guess that he eats his meals out of a feed bag.

At this point, Romney hasn’t yet announced whom he will use as a stand-in for Obama. Judging by the stiff and stilted delivery that has become Obama’s signature over the past few years, as he’s attempted to combine gravitas with an imperiousness unseen since the salad days of Benito Mussolini, I would advise Romney to practice with something like the Audio-Animatronic Abe Lincoln that delivers platitudes hour after hour at Disneyland.

©2012 Burt Prelutsky. Send your comments to

Author Bio:

Burt Prelutsky, a very nice person once you get to know him, has been a humor columnist for the L.A. Times and a movie critic for Los Angeles magazine. As a freelancer, he has written for the New York Times, Washington Times, TV Guide, Modern Maturity, Emmy, Holiday, American Film, and Sports Illustrated. For television, he has written for Dragnet, McMillan & Wife, MASH, Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, Bob Newhart, Family Ties, Dr. Quinn and Diagnosis Murder. In addition, he has written a batch of terrific TV movies. View Burt’s IMDB profile. Talk about being well-rounded, he plays tennis and poker... and rarely cheats at either. He lives in the San Fernando Valley, where he takes his marching orders from a wife named Yvonne and a dog named Angel.
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  • BurtPrelutsky

    LtLive: You would think that everyone would realize how right you are, but well over 40% of Americans have no idea…and yet they get to vote.


  • Lt Live

    Our real problem is the depravity and stupidity of liberal socialism which is moraly bankrupt and leads to financial distruction.

  • BurtPrelutsky

    cmacrider: As usual, you, a Canadian, see America clearly, which is far more than most Americans do.

    As you say, there is still bigotry and racism in America, but the dirty little secret is that nearly all of it is to be found lurking in the hearts and minds of black Americans.


  • cmacrider

    Burt:  I think you have provided the most viable explanation as to why America went head over heels for Obama when you said ”
    In vowing to be the first post-racial president, this man, half white/part Arab, gave the impression that a vote for him would automatically erase a shameful history that included two centuries of slavery and roughly one century of Jim Crow laws.”

    I think most non-Americans (such as myself) understand America’s regret over slavery and the Jim Crow laws.  I personally recall Gov. Wallace’s proclamation “Segregation now … Segregation forever.”  However as foreign observers of American politics, we are infinitely more impressed by the fact that the American people identified an injustice and by virtue of good old fashioned American decency they chose to rectify that problem.  The wrong was not righted as a result of foreign pressure …. it was corrected internally by Americans themselves.  Many of us foreign observers think that its high time Americans focused on the fact that if they get something wrong there is no nation on earth that works harder to rectify that which is wrong.  

    None of the foregoing is intended to suggest that bigotry and racism has been eliminated in America …. but it is to suggest that your problems in that area are not unique as every country has their share of idiots.  Further, 4 years in purgatory is long enough for those that insist on doing the race guilt trip …. its time for America to get on with the show and if that means a new Administration so be it.

  • BurtPrelutsky

    Lonesome George:  (A tribute to Mr. Gobel?) I’m delighted that you enjoyed the piece.

    CCNV: You must have misunderstood me.  I said a stand-in for Barack Obama.


    • Lonesome George

      Of course!   On another note I have been wondering what your relationship was like with the stars of MASH, in particular Farrell & Alda

  • Lonesome George

    Thanks Burt for giving me another chuckle.  I appreciate you insight put in such a humorous way.

  • GlenFS

    I nominate Wil, I’m sure he’s not doing anything better and he’s got the inane leftist mantra committed to memory.  He will call him a racist, 1% slime, and worst of all…………… “mormon”

  • CCNV

    As for who should be a stand-in for obama, I suggest placing a ‘turd’ on the podium.

  • Bruce A.

    Burt, are you really saying President Obama was originally an unqualified, inept manufactured candidate drummed up  by a few people in Chicago along with the mainstream media? 

  • Jeffreydan

    “At this point, Romney hasn’t yet announced whom he will use as a stand-in for Obama.”
      First person that comes to mind is a spoiled, foot-stomping kindergartner, no matter the gender.