Malaise, Despair, and Spring Fever
If it weren't for the Clintons' mad insistence on staying in a race they can't possibly win but just might force their enemy to lose, the country would be enjoying a much-earned and devoutly wished-for respite from presidential politics right now. I see this everywhere in work and social settings: nobody wants to talk about the race anymore, and everyone is disgusted with everybody.
Yes, the ABC debate Wednesday night was a singular disgrace; the absurdity of 45 minutes devoted to insider-politics bullshit and manufactured pseudo-scandals actually raises the question of whether representative democracy can thrive or even survive when its media tribunes are so entirely devoted to minutiae and irrelevancies. The lame excuse of the moderators--that all the issues they raised had sprung up in the two months since the previous debate--looks even lamer when you think about what else has happened since then: the collapse of Bear Stearns and the roiling of financial markets, the deepening mortgage crisis, the Petreus/Crocker hearings on Iraq, new revelations that the highest officials of the Bush administration discussed the specifics of torture tactics, the administration's vacuous promises of steps toward thinking about the discussion of long-term potential action around climate change, and all manner of other things.
But the outrage also reflects despair and bafflement that the good and necessary contest we were looking at two months ago, Obama versus McCain, is obscured by the refusal of the First Narcissists to go away and the hijacking of an issues-based campaign in favor of, literally, complaining about complaining. Democrats have the additional frustration of seeing their prospects dim in a year when everything should be going their way.
I'm not immune to this either. In about an hour and a half, I'll be headed to the Philadelphia area for the Jewish holiday; my plan had been to go down earlier today and do some volunteering for the Obama campaign in my home town. But between personal and spousal fatigue, and my own utter exasperation with the campaign that won't end, here I sit on Saturday afternoon, waiting for it to be freakin' over already.
edit: okay, this and this are almost-sufficient reasons to be glad the campaign continues...