John Kass Credit: Rob Hart/Sun Times Media

When a potent new expression of derision comes along, it needs to be applied sparingly. Think of it as like a cutting-edge antibiotic. In a pinch, it’ll zap whatever lower life form needs zapping, but if it’s used repeatedly bad things happen. Bacteria develop resistance; objects of contempt stop reeling and begin to giggle.

I’m concerned that John Kass hasn’t been prudent in his dosages. “Chicago mayors want meat puppets,” he wrote in October 2014, “the kind that take direction and do tricks for biscuits.” He’d unleashed a devastating new weapon to employ against the mindlessly obeisant.

Meat puppet.

But Kass abused his discovery. If the mayor had meat puppets, then Michael Madigan must have them too. “They are his meat puppet Democratic legislators,” Kass wrote of the Illinois House speaker’s minions.

On to the Washington crowd, Democrats and Republicans alike. “Both sides are the meat puppets of Wall Street,” he wrote. As for the Clintons, Hillary supporters were now meat puppets, and her husband’s were too. 

Journalists he disapproved of became “media meat puppets.” Whining Cubs fans mourning last October’s four-game sweep by the Mets sounded to Kass “exactly like Hillary Clinton and her media meat puppets before a Benghazi hearing.”

And just the other day, he accused the “establishment” of sending out “American kids to fight endless wars” while sending “their media meat puppets to condemn any critics as dangerous ‘isolationists.'”

Gazing at herds that graze common grass, Kass has spared no one but his own readers. But like doctors who prescribe amoxicillin for a virus on grounds it won’t hurt and the patient will shut up, Kass began deploying his sneer without clear purpose. “All the rest is meat puppet mud wrestling,” he wrote in February, an incoherent zinger I’d compare to injecting hogs with antibiotics just to be on the safe side. 

And what about this?

Like anyone else whose jones runs wild, Kass has a constant need for more. Meat puppet fixes now show up in his space with harrowing frequency—on July 1, again July 8, July 19, and July 22, and, in last Sunday’s column. “What are the consequences of electing to the White House someone who endangered national security for her own personal whims?” Kass pondered. “And if she’s elected, what happens to the rule of law for all of us who don’t sit on the imperial Iron Throne?”

“Ideas have consequence, and so do elections,” Kass lectured. And then it came. “You can drown out the questions,” he let us know, “by playing the meat puppet and accusing me of rampant anti-Hillaryism.”

I couldn’t believe what I read. Chicago’s most two-fisted pundit was employing meat puppet to shame into silence anyone inclined to tell him to shut up! This unworthy act was truly like lacing the feed of healthy livestock with pharmaceuticals to keep them docile and harmless. Any veterinarian will tell you that’s a bad idea.

Plus, it didn’t work. Don Wycliff, former editor of the Tribune editorial page, read Kass’s column and posted his thoughts on Facebook.

“I am dumbfounded,” wrote Wycliff. “This is one of the most laughable, lightweight pieces of political commentary I have ever read. I am not passionate about Hillary, but I am frightened at the prospect of a Trump presidency. The man is dangerous. Kass depicts him as a slightly off-kilter fellow with Bozo the Clown looks. Has he been paying attention over the last year?”  

Clearly Kass has, in his own way. But can he see the forest for the meat puppets?