“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

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Fluff and Circumstances

So the president followed his bliss last night. I missed it. I no longer have the stomach to watch Bush go the nine rounds with the English language. The English language has the odds, the weight, and the experience, while the President takes the body blows and collapses at the end. What was once funny is now the kind of thing that some society to prevent cruelty to the animals should surely look into. I imagine he was heavily applauded for making the usual adolescent tough remarks about the rest of the world. I imagine he did not refer to Pioneer Jack Abramoff as a close and important friend. Was it last year, or the year before that the axis of evil shifted to steroids being used by switch hitters? Well, I imagine the steroid references were dropped. At least this year he has laid off proposing doing away with other New Deal and Great Society programs. Although proposing doing away with his own pill company entitlement program would actually garner a blip in the polls.

Instead of watching fluff, I did my liberal duty and went out to see Good Night and Good Luck, finally. Nice film. LI shares Clooney’s nostalgia for a world that did its business in Manichean black and white, a world in which young men tried to look like middle aged men instead of the reverse. As I wrote to my friend, T., the barbering in this movie awed me. Clooney is a sport of political nature – our last remaining Rod Serling liberal. It is a liberalism born of a horror of sci fi totalitarianism, one that dreams Egyptian dreams of huge underground headquarters in which generals fondle the buttons that would send up the missiles. No casting department could have found a better face for the phobic ultima than was borne by McCarthy. The actual footage was pretty amazing – by the end, as we know, McCarthy was simply plastered most of the time, but to listen to the permanent sneer in his voice, and to know that, like the music Josephine sang to the Mouse folk, this sound entranced the millions – this is Twilight Zone America.

Of course, the horror now is Cheney’s face, McCarthy as an android CEO. McCarthy’s most fervid followers, and the ones who supported him financially, were the Texas oil millionaires. The Hunts, the Murchisons. The line between Lincoln and Bush, so often pushed by the Weekly Standard crowd, is faint and almost invisible, but the line between McCarthy and Bush is a living thing, a culture that grew around fear of nationalized oil fields abroad (Buckley’s dad, of course, suffered from the nationalization of his oil fields in Mexico), and the fear, at home, that the oil depletion tax would somehow be attacked provided almost all the money to make conservatism a political force in this country.

PS -- after writing the above, I looked at the NYT coverage of the speech. Surely the Times has never had a worse D.C. bureau. The funniest report was by David Sanger, which contains such ludicrous Timesman's gems as this, from the second graf:

"The Texan who swept onto the national political scene six years ago talking about drilling for new energy supplies and preserving the American way of life vowed on Tuesday night to wean the nation from its reliance on oil." Which, of course, is not at all true -- Bush made some inane remarks about lessening U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil, as if petroleum were not a fungible product. And of course Bush has made the hydrogen engine pledge before, and it has gone to that magic place where all the toothfairies deposit all the babyteeth.

Or this: "It was, in short, a speech rooted in some harsh global and political realities, and one unlikely to rank among Mr. Bush's most memorable. Instead of evoking the grand ambitions that have suffused his presidency since the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Bush emphasized the familiar and the modest."

I wonder how Sanger ranks the most memorable. No doubt they will be carved in stone on some stelae after Bush retires from office to a job he is actually qualified for: brush-cutting. The NYT decision that Bush will invariably be described as bold, or some synonym, creaks and moans with irreality. Meanwhile, we boldly never actually won the war we started out to win, as Osama bin Laden turns himself into an independent video producer. What a sad and shameful spectacle "swept in" six years ago, and what complete putzes report on it.

Just so you know how the D.C. correspondents work, Froomkin’s column is about how the Bush white house chews up the speech and spits it into each little journalistic maw, so it can be re-spit into the pages of the newspaper. I say, cut out the middleman and have the White House press secretary write those analyses of the speech in the NYT:

Journalists are not exactly transparent about how much advance knowledge they have of the president's speech before he gives it.

As usual, the press yesterday got the full text of the speech an hour before delivery. Bush himself hosted an off-the-record lunch for network anchors.
And some six-and-a-half-hours before delivery, White House counselor Dan Bartlett spoke to the press in great detail about the speech for almost an hour.


Matt said...

'tis well said.

winn said...

Given how often he injures himself while reportedly cutting brush I'm not sure he's qualified to do that, either.

roger said...

Winn, I can comment on this from experience -- having cut a lot of texas brush in my time.

The point, which seems to be lost on newsmen, in cutting brush is that it gets you away from the supervision of your wife, and you can light up a joint. Once you achieve a certain level of clarity, then you rev up your dangerous machinery and you are ready to rock. Injuries that ensue are actually part of the game of having faced the land.

(when, however, you really need land cleared, you hire cedar men, who are silent, big, and don't fool around.)