Thursday, October 13, 2005

Politcal Rant Time

It could just be me (much like my recent dating life…”just me”…ba-zing! Thanks for coming out, please tip your bartenders), but the political landscape in America seems akin more to Professional Wrestling than actual seasoned discourse, debate and general public servantry. (Yes, militant grammarians, I know “servantry” isn’t exactly a word per se, but I invented it and it’s only a matter of time before the OED’s on my bandwagon. Meaning literally my band’s wagon, as we plan on touring with a full unabridged OED to settle any disputes that arise in our heated Scrabble tournaments—we party hard on the road).

At least in Pro Wrestling there’s a clear demarcation between the good guys and bad guys (or “Babyfaces” and “Heels” in the Wrestling lexicon—I’ve always been curious as to the etymological history of these phrases, though never enough to look them up, as I don’t think they’re literal. Hulk Hogan at no point—now as a near sexagenarian, or in his prime—had an actual babyface. And “Heel”’s just interesting because it seems like such an old-timey, throwback word for jerk.) In American politics in 2005, both sides think they’re good and the other’s bad.

Seriously, it is a distressing state of affairs. I remember growing up the 80s (note to younger readers: imagine present day—neon polo shirts and popped collars, music that sounds a lot like The Killers, Franz Ferdinand and The Bravery, but minus the internet and iPods…with bigger hair…and that’s the 80s) Reagan was president, the Moral Majority was pissing off those who didn’t want a theocracy, democrats were pissed, and the US occasionally took off on “police actions” (aka, “war, but without the expressed, voted and debated on, written consent of congress”)…in many ways like today, minus the iPods and freely available baseball stats. But, there were some key differences. Sure the two sides didn’t care for each other, but despite the potshots and hostility the two sides were as happy as Minnesota Vikings Players on a Fred Smoot-chartered yacht compared to today’s politicians.

On one end of the spectrum you’ve got folks like Sean Hannity and company who use the word “liberal” like a four-letter word (and most of them are the very, very devoutly religious types for whom four-letter words are still really harsh and meaningful…as opposed to those godless Hollywood fuckers like David Mamet who fill every fucking sentence with fucking swears). Liberals are the enemy, an evil cabal bent on either destroying American or simply turning it into a communist land, where every American is a hyphenated-American, where tax dollars can go to NEA grants funding Charles Manson’s painting, churches are taxed out of existence and homage is daily paid to the UN. With that kind of view, many republicans then go all out trying to destroy every democrat they can.

Not that the Dems are much better. Anti-Semites from Shakespeare’s time, who painted the Jews and covetous baby-killers, may take a step back at some of the insults hurled the Right’s way (though ironically it’s the Right that prefers slinging the baby-killer remarks at the Left…who have many Jewish folks in their ranks—go figure). To many on the Left, conservatives are backwoods hicks with IQs equal or below the dismal gas mileage their pickup trucks get, who all own guns (guns used to hunt endangered species whenever possible), who genuinely would prefer a United Churches of American to a United States, who believe that George W. is the Second Coming, who all have such a dismal view of the UN that they could be Birch Society members, and of course, they believe that not only are gay marriages a sign of Ragnarok, but gays in general spend hours plotting ways to turn their always innocent kids “queer.”

With such polarized views, it’s no surprise they get along about as well as James Dobson and Larry Flynt (in theory—though a scandal or odd photos could disprove this.)

The presidents aren’t exactly making things easier. Clinton, easily the greatest and most influential democratic president not named Kennedy or Roosevelt of the past 100 years, started things off when he realized that Republicans hating him didn’t really matter. Clinton’s team successfully changed America’s general perception of Democrats from the Loony Left that freed Willie Horton to a more centrist group. As P. J. O’Rourke said (paraphrasing here) “one of the most brilliant things Clinton did was make everyone feel like their own special interest group”.

And boy did the Republicans hate him. If Reagan was “Teflon” what non-stick coating was slicker to describe Clinton? The man had a sexless (or at least I hope so—the thought of Ken Starr in coitus is not an image anyone wants…I hope) special prosecutor who was appointed to look into the Whitewater land dealings and somehow got the president on trial for fellatio. That’s like if the O.J. trial had continued until they tried him for not paying Greens fees at the country club (or vice-versa if you’re the Puritanical, “oral sex is for whores and degenerates” type…who sometimes is kind of lax on the moral implications of sketchy land deals). They were dead set on flinging more and more shit on the wall until something finally stuck…and I’m sure the collective apoplexy when not only did the impeachment fail, but a large portion of Americans said “who cares, let’s watch Seinfeld” gave heart medication companies in D.C. a huge sales boost. That last part was key for Clinton—the public didn’t really care that much about his oral adventures, except for the hysterical “won’t somebody please think of the children” types and hell, they weren’t going to vote democrat anyway. And Clinton and company KNEW it, and that was key.

And now we have Dubya, who’s someone resembling more and more Clinton’s Evil (or Good depending on your political orientation) Twin. Look at the parallels:

  1. Pushed the perception of his party to a more central view, away from the fringe in his first presidential campaign.
  2. Seems to almost revel in pissing off the opposing party, knowing they can’t really do anything.
  3. Has had an investigation report released as a book (the 9/11 Report and Clinton’s sex trial were both best-sellers too. Makes me wonder if Knopf or Little, Brown and Co. or someone should just bid on “The Collected White House Press briefings” now and get it over with.)
  4. Both had allegedly “wild pasts” and both allegedly “experimented” with drugs, and neither saw combat in Vietnam.
  5. Both defeated challengers from the opposing party that could inspire only the most die-hard party loyalists (that’s right Sen. Kerry, I’m comparing you to Bob Dole…the only sad thing, after he lost, Bob Dole finally displayed some semblance of a sense of humor. Upside: we have yet to endure Kerry schilling for Viagra or some other tumescence-creating drug.)
  6. Finally, both in some ways “betrayed” or departed from the traditional ideals of their respective parties
And in the end we get sides so against each other that no matter how terrible “their guy” is, they’ll vote for him anyway, because if they don’t “the Other” would get control (and give it time, Derrida will show up in more and more political analyses.) It’s going to get worse before it gets better too folks: it’s not even an election year yet.

Enjoy the slobberknocker, I’ll be watching Seinfeld reruns.

1 comment:

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