How did we get here, where the "news" is couched and Commentary is the anthesis of Thought? Isn't the single requirement for giving someone like Bartlett airtime that he demonstrate some independence of mind? Kee-rist, he's not even a decent regurgitator of right-wing tripe. He's just a skid mark between partisan hackery and the cachet received from millions of half-informed viewers for Bein' on th' Teevee; the greater part of the dishonesty of the thing is simply that he's standing there. This is, after all, one of the three major networks which caved in to the Nixon/Safir(e) assault on The Press. I don't recall the other two, just offhand, but I remember Eric Sevareid's commentary suddenly being labelled "Commentary". It may be fortunate, then, that they try to pretend that what Bartlett is doing is "reporting"; what they'd have to label it probably violates FCC obscenity guidelines.
And this coming from Riley, who (I may have mentioned this once or twice) believes that Obama=Celebrity is in fact the most masterful stroke of a political season (though, to be fair, this is not exactly saying much) which may be said to be fairly subsumed by the juvenile implications of "stroke" and the actuarial odds of John McCain suffering one. Okay, so in fact the real credit goes to the Campaign That Never Gets Called, and to "Progressives" who, having publicly and unapologetically swooned over the man in January were utterly dumbfounded by the charges in May; both had to appeal to the Hilton family for help. These would be the same people who are busy pummeling PUMAs as Day Three of the Convention dawns in the Rockies. Now that I think of it, this may be the One Thing Bush actually Got Right: the nation has now had so much experience of its collective head spinning 'round that incidents of political whiplash have fallen to statistical insignificance.
And let us here pull up a special dentist's chair in Hell for Jacob Weisberg's "Racism is the only reason Obama might lose", in which, as Bob Somerby has already noted, a Slate columnist explains to us the moral superiority that is the Slate columnist. Finally Hell has come full Circle, and the horse race vacuities so beloved of the Press are now the standards by which we weigh the voting preferences of entire generations and find them repugnant. That older Americans--be they white, black, or better able than most Slate pundits to think beyond the stereotypical--might be less inclined to bandwagon jumping, less swayed by claims of Real Change, And This Time We Mean It!, more suspicious of the scanty resumé, is of no import. That they might be less charitable to a candidate who has accused them of miring America in a sort of mindless partisanship for its own sake, whose health-care proposal was inferior to Senator Clinton's, who uses "crisis" and "Social Security" in the same breath, matters not at all, since these are Issues, and thus to politics what Grandma is to sexual positions. (It's interesting, though, that PUMAs are fired on for being insufficiently determined by a single-issue.) We feel the necessity of enshrining a line, not an original thought of Weisberg's, but grimly pleasing, nonetheless, for appearing in the Voice of the Rational Anti-Rational Reverse Contrarian With A Half Twist:
Many have discoursed on what an Obama victory could mean for America. We would finally be able to see our legacy of slavery, segregation, and racism in the rearview mirror. Our kids would grow up thinking of prejudice as a nonfactor in their lives. The rest of the world would embrace a less fearful and more open post-post-9/11 America. But does it not follow that an Obama defeat would signify the opposite? If Obama loses, our children will grow up thinking of equal opportunity as a myth. His defeat would say that when handed a perfect opportunity to put the worst part of our history behind us, we chose not to. In this event, the world's judgment will be severe and inescapable: The United States had its day but, in the end, couldn't put its own self-interest ahead of its crazy irrationality over race.
Honest to God, I think he lifted that quote from Al Trautwig's Olympic gymnastic coverage. If the Deputy Assistant Campaign Chair for the Quad Cities had said it there'd be calls for Obama to denounce him. Okay, okay, so there are calls for Obama to denounce something every other afternoon, including his previous day's denunciation; this one would be justified. If Geraldine Ferraro had said something like that last April--that it would be "risky" to vote for Obama since his defeat would mean the crushing of every child's hope of a Brighter Tomorrow for the next two generations--she wouldn't have been denounced as a racist; she'd have been quietly committed to the Betty Ford Paint Huffing Ward.
Naturally, none of this even bothers with making the case that the next President should be chosen on the basis of melanin ("You may or may not agree with Obama's policy prescriptions." Thanks, Jake.), just as the last one was chosen on the basis of his perceived regular-guy bonhomie. Weisberg does note the negative qualification of McCain's computer illiteracy, as though our next Surfer in Chief will need every email alert at his disposal ("My fellow Americans, I stand before you to announce that the new Vista upgrade is teh suck!"). This, I remind you, comes from Yet Another Slate Columnist who rode proudly off to war behind a President who is occasionally flummoxed by the Bicycle. Figuratively rode to war, I mean.
How'd we get here, again? How'd the finally-exposed (and no thanks to Slate) mendaciousness and venality of the Republican party come to be replaced by the self-annointed moral arbiter with the atrocious international track record, and without the former even having the grace to disappear? I dunno, but I have to admit that I was a lot more comfortable back when I could blame it all on Republicans.