I tuned in last night just in time to see John McCain kick Barack Obama's ass. Something about how he "didn't care about a washed-up terrorist" but the connection "needed to be explained". Which, seeing as how the "connection" had already been explained about a thousand times, and seeing as how he was the one actually bringing the washed-up terrorist to the festivities, at least had the reassuring effect of demonstrating that Senator McCain has perfectly adapted to life on the other side of the Looking Glass.
Then I opened up the Usual Suspects this morning to find WaPo and Slate discussing whether McCain's "aggressive" and "hard-hitting" performance had been enough to turn his campaign around.
Please. The fact that the question was generally answered in the negative is merely evidence that these people are not so far gone as to require immediate transfer to a hospice. The fact that the question is being asked at all is the measure of how deep our real problems run.
And no, I'm not talking about anybody being in the tank for McCain; I'm not even talking, for now, about the fact that after eight years of The Emperor's Ever-Unchanging Wardrobe we can't call out a sorry, doddering pander or his aggressively ignorant running mate.
Instead, look at the script: 1) Last Showdown; 2) McCain hits Obama aggressively; 3) but Will It Be Enough?
To which we'd like to point out 1) the campaign's been going on for two years now. That's half a President's term of office. That's half a fucking ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It's, what? three or four new iPhones. We can't possibly expect people in this country to pay attention to anything that long, and since we can't, maybe it's time to eliminate Presidential "debates" altogether, and with it the notion that our elections ought to be decided in the same fashion--and by the same people--who judge Super Bowl commercials around the water cooler the following morning. If someone out there was actually waiting for the Third and Final Showdown to decide this race--of all fucking races--for him, he doesn't need encouragement from the Fourth Estate; he needs to have his voting privilege revoked. 2) McCain "hit" Obama on what, exactly? On Bill Fucking Ayers? On abortion? Forget the fact that he looked like your half-informed uncle after four beers doing so. In what alternative universe are these even presidential issues, and in it, as in this one, aren't they six months past their expiration date, or else a hopeless, and now impotent, reminder of the rabble-rousing that brought us Republican disaster after Republican disaster? John McCain's been in the Congress for twenty-five of the thirty-five years of single-issue reproductive fascism, and what's he ever done about it? Other than change his stance so he could pander to the Brownshirts whose "aggression" he now gives voice to? 3) Th' fuck is will it be enough? supposed to be? What sort of self-respecting journalist (sorry, I couldn't resist) would talk like that if he thought the mikes were off? McCain's toast. He's been toast for weeks, and Bad Economic News at the Worst Time is just the latest and most convenient excuse. Consider the ease with which our Free Press was convinced that Sarah Palin represented some entity known as The Real America. Compare with what The Real America tells pollsters it thinks about her qualifications for the job.
And consider, Good Reader, if you will, that the present autumnal coloration of our slow-motion national disaster (aka the "Reagan Revolution") began when idiotic Nader supporters declared that the impending doom which would be ushered in by placing in the Oval Office the only man in history to have actually induced Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in himself was what was required to make America sit up and take notice. Of course these people don't know the Real America any better than The Press or Councilwoman Palin do. The Hyperreal America, on the other hand--the one they do know, the one they frequently are--has responded to the Second Massive Financial Swindling of the Real America in a Generation by looking for new and more effective ways to keep the game afloat, and the mark's eye on the wrong hand.
Here's Slate's own Emily Yoffe, with apologies in advance for bottom trawling:
McCain scored some shots tonight. He made a strong point about Obama's wanting to "spread the wealth around" from Joe the Plumber, and I was surprised Obama didn't seem prepared for that. (And Rosa and Juliet, Joe said the business "makes" about $250,000 a year—we don't know if that's gross or net income, so we have no idea what his personal income would be. But in any case, I'm with Rachael in believing Joe's entitled keep most of it.) McCain was much better on the need to support the free-trade agreement with Colombia, which has been a strong U.S. ally. Obama's answer was weak and weasely. But none of this really makes any difference, because when you watch McCain for an extended period, there is something off about him. His angry facial tics, his strange shorthand, inside-Washington way of talking. Half the time, unless you already knew what he was talking about, you'd have no idea what he was talking about. There's a guy at my gym who's always muttering curses under his breath as he does his circuit, and I think of him as "Seething Man." McCain was Seething Man tonight, and Obama was "Reassuring Man," and people want reassurance now more than ever.
WHICH brings me back to yesterday, when, following Scott, I started in on Jonah Goldberg's latest pathetic cry for help, not that it hadn't been done already, WO'C style. The dedicated social archaeologist can always find another layer of inhabitation in Jonah's mind, though typically none yields anything but coprolites. There was studded among this piece , however, several chards of the cracked pottery from my particular area of interest, the Young Jonah Gets Drilled in U.S. History With Birch Society Flash Cards by his Sleezy Dam era, and I was working somewhat distractedly on it (sample:
DPL, 2008: "...the attempt to paint Goldwater as a hate-monger was idiotic and dishonorable."
BMG, 1964: "Every wife and mother, yes, every woman and girl, knows what I mean, knows what I'm talking about."
when I happened to open the WaPo for some reason, and found "How Palin Can Save The Mainstream Media" by Kathleen F. Parker, who as recently as, I think, right then was on Colbert running her "I'm an email bomb victim because I dared criticize Sarah Palin" routine into its second week. My brain simply shut down at that point as a self-preservation response.
Why, oh why, are these people given prime pieces of our public forum? We went through the bullshit Librul Media business in the Nixon administration--the fact that it was attached to the Nixon administration being enough reason for a society whose citizenry believes, in the main, that it is either one lucky two-digit number away from winning the wealth of Croesus, or about to be swept into the sky, naked, to some sort of Valhalla for people who love Jesus and keep their lawns nice, to have thereafter avoided it like the Plague--culminating in the "balance" which gave us George Eff Will commenting of Reagan's debate "victories" without revealing his, George Eff Will's, campaign position as a paid co-felon. "Conservative" commentators went from "outsiders" to insiders without an appreciable change in their affirmative action status, while people like Farmer Sam Donaldson and Texas Dan Rather were supposed to be speaking for the opposition. We are now exiting a generation-long cycle during which these "outsiders" not only became the "insiders", but did their goddamedest to defend remaining there by any sleezy, corrupt, anti-democratic, and criminal means at their disposal, and a few invented just for the purpose. In the meantime, what should not have come as a surprise to anyone paying even a slightly honest bit of attention, the whole thing turned to shit and left that Real America they used to claim to speak for holding the flaming bag. Why are they still here? Of what possible use are the scraping sounds produced as Kathleen Parker rearranges the two pieces of furniture that constitute her mental décor? And we're not even gonna bothering asking about Jonah. I'm not talking about stifling debate; it's just that for the people there now a stretch in Comment Jail is too lenient. And since they've already proven that the "conservative" position can be "articulated" by anyone you pick up off the street, assuming sufficient cupidity, let's do that.