Friday, October 03, 2008

The Morning After
During the primaries I wrote some political posts. I took them down because, well, I wasn't impressed by them. Just more spouting off in a world long on opinions but painfully short on wisdom. I'll probably come to see this fresh rant in the same vein, and it may be gone before any of my three or four readers sees it. But ridiculously, right now, it is important to me....

Nothing that happened last night wasn't anticipated. His performance, her performance, the reaction ... it all fell easily under the heading Most Likely Scenario. And the net result is that our hope -- that Obama will win and we'll have a sane Democrat in the White House -- is just as viable now as it was before the debate began. And yet I find myself profoundly depressed. And here is why: Once more, the public and the press are carrying on as though the past seven years didn't happen, as though the election of a "plain-spoken" president who "connected with regular people," talked mostly about the need for lower taxes and "getting government out of the American people's way," all the while demonstrating little curiosity, depth of knowledge about issues or sense of how America's place in the world is changing didn't lead us to disaster.

I see everyone earnestly joining in on the debate after the debate, trying to determine whether Sarah Palin for 90 minutes pulled off looking sort of like someone who could (if we make sure to keep the answer period short, and don't ask follow-up questions) play the part of world leader. I'm aghast that none of the endless number of experts on the post-debate analysis shows -- CNN alone must have had a dozen -- climbed onto the desk in front of him and shouted, "Have we all lost our minds? Does anyone really think this woman truly has the depth of understanding to lead our country in a time of grave crisis? Does anyone really believe that John McCain showed good judgment in selecting her to be his vice president? The winks and nods, the scripted little zingers, the regular-gal shtick -- whether it was appealing to you or not -- how does it have ANYTHING to do with anything? Even now, at this juncture, are we STILL unable to behave seriously? Am I living in an alternate universe? Our country's future is not assured, OK? And we reporters and pundits, by playing the ridiculous games we play, are as responsible as Wall Street, Congress, Bush and the public for the state of the country. Do I have to say it again: We are in financial meltdown. We are fighting two hopeless wars. It's not simply that we're not addressing the social problems that for years have plagued us; no, we have gone so far and so quickly in reverse in the past seven years that simply staving off utter disaster appears to be the best we can hope for. And we all sit here and happily play the role of TV critic? This is reality, people, not a reality show." And with that, our hero falls to his knees and holds his head, his face the very picture of defeat, now dissolving into tears.

Am I done? Not quite.

What infinite power of pretending does it take for David Brooks in the New York Times, to write, "She was surprisingly forceful on the subject of Iran (pronouncing Ahmadinejad better than her running mate)." How is it that I even have to say, the question cannot be can she spout a few talking points and pronounce the name of a practically irrelevant Iranian politician. The question must be -- for our future depends upon it -- "Does this person have an impressive, nuanced read on the world that inspires confidence that the choices she will make will keep us and the world safe?" Right? Isn't that what we desperately need to know? Or are we going to go through the same stupid, devastating, deadly charade we've gone through since 2001? I guess we are. I guess we are.

F--- you, David Brooks. F--- you, all the punditocracy last night and this morning. You pontificate about Congress failing us, the president failing us. F--- you. You have demonstrated again your complete and utter lack of courage and sense of obligation. None of you deserves or has my respect.