We have so many daunting challenges facing us here in the Land of the Round Doorknobs. Who knew life would get so hard with the fall of the Evil Empire? Seriously. I grew up a Cold War kid who was taught to duck under his wooden desk in Mrs. Hilge's 3rd grade classroom on the top floor of St Peter's (sic) School in New Brunswick, NJ, and to turn my face away from the window (like that would help in the event of a nuclear attack). Of course, me and my classmates came of age in the Cuban Missile Crisis and if you want to read quaint, it would certainly qualify.
The world was so much easier when all we thought in was black and white. Now we're not only in color we're in high definition. But if we are, how come so much is so fuzzy so often? Last week's exercise in stupidity that has carried over into this week stopped being funny within seconds of getting started.
The video clip of former Governor, ongoing punchline, Sarah Palin not explaining Paul Revere has been everywhere and so have the battle lines that have been drawn about what all of it means. All Of It? WTFO? To be honest, card-carrying East Coast Elitist that I am, none of what I've seen or read changes my opinion on the 2008 Republican candidate for Vice President. If this isn't John Belushi's speech in Animal House about the German attack on Pearl Harbor, we have no sense of history or humor left. And, bottom line: so what?
I'm struck by how Orwellian this has all become with an army of Winstons repairing reference material to better assure the past reflects the present. You betcha! I cannot begrudge her, or anyone else in this era of instant misinformation, availing herself of the opportunity to explain away what cannot be explained away. You don't think John Kerry wishes he'd thought of this for those Swift Boat ads, or Mike Dukakis and that troublesome tank footage? Pop history quiz--without looking it up-who else ran for President in 1860 which resulted in the election of Abraham Lincoln. Surprised we didn't add a few more names.
I'd knew you'd cheat, but you're forgiven. Now go on a book tour after you finish rehab (Ellen, I guess, Oprah's over, right? Why do I keep looking under my driver's seat and what am I hoping to find?) and like LBJ, show us your appendix scar because we cannot have enough of this picking the scab off of stuff. It's as close to substance as we are ever again likely to get. And that would and should be sad but most of us under forty have never known a national political debate that had anything to do with actual politics, so it's just business as usual.
As often as we'd like to see ourselves as a still-young nation, looking at the tenor and tone of our political debate, I see absolutely no reason to believe we even get to be a country that ever sees 240 years at the same location. Check this out--from the dare to be stupid file. How can you not applaud? I.love.the.title. but even more the proposition that makes historical accuracy part of a litmus test on being an American.
We used to celebrate our ability to disagree and not be disagreeable, e pluribus unum; out of many, one. Those days are over. And the horse you rode in on. Now we're all about Shut the F-well, you know what you can shut and we have operators standing by to make you do it so don't you make us, okay? Not that long ago we had close to half the country referring to the President of the United States as a village idiot and more recently than that the other half insisting the President wasn't an American (like either of those positions were possible to disprove-the old 'is it true you've stopped beating your spouse?' question). And so it goes.
Every time I think we're too shrill or strident, I count to ten and we double down and turn it up to eleven again. Can you even imagine how totally screwed up our political discourse will be by the time we get to the general election in 2012? Not me. Talk about spooky-we'll be in downtown Creep City by then. Everyone will be supporting a candidate who sets a neighbor's teeth on edge, makes a family member's skin crawl and who elevates our own blood pressure so much we'll have folks croaking from Apoplexy Now (where's FFC when we really need him?). And if you thought I'd go this entire rant with out mentioning this week's other big Weiner, you lose (And I'm thinking very few of us will ever call him "Tony" again).
I'm afraid we're losing sight of how important we are especially to those who aren't us-but who have striven and streamed to arrive on our shores, by any means possible, in historic numbers since the Founding of the Republic. I hope we've only momentarily lost our way and not permanently lost our minds. If I could, I'd pray that more reasonable voices, from all sides of the political spectrum, can regain not only the middle ground but our middle ear so we might have a return to balance. We don't need to wave a million bloodied banners if we can follow the flag together.