“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Sunday, August 29, 2004


A friend of mine who is pretty far to the right sent me an email about Swift Boat Veterans about a month ago. I thought, at the time: you gotta be kidding me. Bush, with an incredibly bad military record, can’t afford to open this little can of worms up.

I was wrong. The Bush campaign correctly gauged Kerry’s weakness – a massive, senatorial vanity that makes Oedipus’ hubris look like the shrinking modesty of a closet virgin. Kerry’s response has been, throughout, a comic exercise in hauteur. It is as if Kerry feels that we will all feel his pain that he, John Kerry, a senator, a presidential candidate, is being unfairly attacked in a tv ad. Wow – a presidential candidate attacked in a slimy way! That he has made this into an issue of Bush condemning or not the ads shows …. well, a pretty bad instinct in Kerry. Hardball does not consist of insisting that your opponent dominate the game. Surely even in the incubator of egocentricity and bad but expensive hair that is D.C., surely someone around Kerry could have gently said: get over it. But no: this utterly boring and irrelevant issue is bearing beautiful fruit for the Bush campaign. Kerry’s partisans are all in a lather – all of them amplifying the vanity response, all of them insisting on the utterly godlike heroism of the young Kerry, deigning to become a grunt from his position of privilege in the Ivies – we all should be so honored! I'm weeping in my whiskey! All of them determined to stick with the story of Kerry the hero unworthily blemished to the very end.

If, instead, Kerry had accepted being attacked, and attacked back – if he hadn’t sanctimoniously “condemned” moveon’s quite mild ads on Bush – he’d be in much better shape. Liberals have a tendency to confuse their arrogance with decency – they love that word decency – when, in reality, their niceness is all context dependent. I say: bring on the dirty campaigning. If I had inherited a million bucks, I could afford to be decent too. Or indecent. The truth is, most of us don’t have any choice about it – that’s what a restricted income does for ya. So we plug up the interstices with a few moral acts, gorge on superstitions in response to our dim awareness that we are vulnerable to everything in this universe and are going to die without having eaten enough, fucked enough, thought enough, or enjoyed any one moment enough, and plug along from one besotted moment to another thinking about sex, if we are lucky and our libido hasn’t been broken by our exhaustion. I really believe that the Dem establishment doesn’t have a clue. Hence, a small town Babbitt like Rove can look like a genius just for acting like a redneck drunk, since this provokes the most maddening, and unintentionally hilarious, responses from Dems. Their noses immediately go in the air. They act sullied. They begin talking about honor, by which they mean – I, me, my ego, my preciousness, was actually INSULTED by that lout. Can you imagine? This righteous indignation plays out as a particularly nauseating blend of petulance. The mask comes down. The hoi polloi insult and are insulted all of the time. It is our art form. And if you can’t deal with that, how are you going to deal with things like, uh, war?

It has still not resonated with the Dems that they are no longer the default party. Incredible as that seems, they still respond to these things as though they were still number one. This happens. Many American manufacturers, faced with competition from the Japanese in the seventies, folded not because the Japanese could make stuff cheaper, but because the Americans were arthritic about service, produced crap, had an executive structure that was stuck in cement, crushed innovation, and had so constituted themselves around a Pavlovian routine – put out crap, get back money – that they were unable to understand the changed circumstances.

This would be extremely funny if we had some other opposition party we could go to. Alas, the Dems are it, and their screw ups are threatening to land Bush, once again, in an office he so richly does not deserve.

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