Eddie Bernice Johnson and a Grandmother's Broken Heart.


Kids these days: Well, if that isn't just about the saddest thing ever. We're talking about U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, who has spent much of the past two weeks being raked over coals after The Dallas Morning News reported that she arranged for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to award $31,000 in scholarships to two of her grandchildren, two great-nephews and two children of an aide.

How disheartening to see Johnson try to explain that she didn't quite grasp the "ambiguous" anti-nepotism rules for the scholarships before finally admitting that she didn't consider two of her grandchildren to be part of her "immediate family." Just picture it: a grandmother living on a fixed government income—an income north of 200 grand a year, grant you, but still—facing the heat and paying back the money while the real culprits escaped blame.


Eddie Bernice Johnson

We're talking about those two grandchildren, of course.

Now, perhaps there are some young people reading this column—not likely, but possibly—who don't grasp Buzz's point. Well, youngsters, in our day, we had a thing called etiquette. Back when, if Grannie violated clearly written rules to send a chunk of change your way, she'd damn sure consider you part of her "immediate family," and you can bet that the rest of the family would make certain Grandma got a proper "thank you" for it.

Of course a grandma's liable to get confused by all those newfangled "rules." That's what grandkids are for: to mow Grandma's grass, program her TV remote, pick up her prescriptions and explain how to avoid violating basic ethical standards. All Buzz is suggesting is that a proper thank you note and a call might have jogged Johnson's obviously addled brain and spared her much embarrassment, assuming she's capable of being embarrassed. But today's youths are too busy with their Myface pages and sending each other cell-phone photos of their hoo-hahs to stop by the Hallmark store.

And Buzz isn't just talking through our hat etiquette-wise here. We checked with Wanda Sykes-Moore, owner of Royal Court School of Etiquette in The Colony, who assured us that a proper thank you is still de rigueur when Grandma loots a scholarship fund ("Loot" is Buzz's word, by the way, not Sykes-Moore's. We couldn't get her to say anything discourteous, naturally enough.) A call, at least, is required, a short letter or card to follow up is classy, and a hug and a kiss is best, Sykes-Moore said. But Buzz supposes hugs and kisses are too much for Johnson to expect, and that's the saddest thing in this whole situation.

OK...maybe the second saddest.


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