No, that wasn't a glorious three-day weekend you just witnessed. I fought with a long post on Peggy Noonan's Thursday column well into Saturday morning before it pinned me, and any thoughts of reviving it died in the garage, which is where I've been for the last three days, ostensibly getting a jump on spring cleaning.
[Note to Peggers, since I'm congenitally incapable of letting this kind of thing pass: Orson Welles' "canny respect for the audience" resulted in an entire career of box office flops, the single, middling exception being The Stranger, which he did for Sam Spiegel, and on which he submitted to a strict shooting and editing schedule. He called it "my worst film".]
Instead it was the usual for me, which is to say I attacked the disorderliness that had crept over things like kudzu and replaced it with a far greater mess, but one which has a grand organizing principle at its core. This used to work for me, when I was young and strong, but that was twenty years ago, and here I am. I will say, "Okay, this needs to move over here, and that needs to go somewhere else to free up that wall space to do this, and that will go to the shed so the other thing can come in and hang there, which will put all objects of class x together." Then I'll get to the part where everything that needs to be moved meets in the middle of the floor, and then it's time for a nap.
It's not like this didn't need to be done; I skipped the garage last spring, and the equipment/ tool/ effluvia ratio has to be readjusted every so often or you're just piling overcoats on top of windbreakers on an infinite coat rack. And I did accomplish some things. There's more stuff hung on the walls now, which I admit approaches a fetish for me, and I now have a fold-up work bench of sorts, instead of having to put a board on sawhorses as I've been doing for the last decade. And there's a lot of newly emptied space on the shelves in the back, although something tells me they're going to wind up holding all the stuff that's now standing in the middle of the floor.
Noonan wrote about--what else?--George Clooney (she's against him), and I noted that not only had the issue pretty much been covered by the million-and-a-half words written before Jonah Goldberg took up the cause two days earlier, but that "conservatives" had become increasingly difficult to tell apart even when they aren't all repeating the same spin-shot or responding to the blatant provocation of an actor saying something at on awards show. I'm beginning to suspect there's something more at work here than the confounding effect of wearing your tiniest peeve in the same place you hang your most cherished beliefs. Those got confused years ago. The ability of most public Republicans to conduct a reasoned argument against a real opponent, as opposed to, say, their idea of what George Clooney probably thinks about something, atrophied to nothing around the same time. And now they're faced with fighting each other, It was instructive to watch Bruce Bartlett plugging away on the Daily Show last Thursday, trying to make the "argument" that George W. Bush's spending insanity was of a different order altogether from Ronald Reagan's, because Reagan said something once or twice about not liking it. (If my memory is correct it was once, and at that time he was blaming Jimmy Carter. But then, when wasn't he?)
The Republican punditocracy seems increasingly to be meeting the sudden discovery that all is not well with frantic pounding on the chest of the purple-faced corpse on the bathroom floor, shouting, "C'mon Elvis, breathe!" while simultaneously wondering if somebody's hiding all the pill bottles, what route the funeral should take, and whether Colonel Tom is getting the tee shirt deal finalized. As if Bruce Bartlett hasn't taken his turn removing the silver dome from the platter of cheeseburgers and gravy, or mixing up chocolate-and-Dilaudid milkshakes over the past five years.
Last evening, when I was wondering if I'd ever be able to straighten my back again, I briefly considered taking the Republican approach to that mess in my garage. I could start out blaming my wife, then HGTV; and if all else fails I could just stand outside the open door and say, "Where did all this shit come from?"