I don't like to talk politics with friends. We either sit there in an orgy of intellectual negative masturbation (accomplishes nothing, doesn't feel good) or I realize that they are complete fucking idiots. However, I'll talk culture and social science until the cows are butchered by Pig's guard duck and Sarah Palin because she got all the moose. Case in point, one of my buddies and I went out for lunch yesterday, stumbling on a barbecue place that appears to be a small SOCAL chain called Johnny Reb's. (Strongly recommend it, by the way. Get the brisket and the hotlinks combo plate, paying extra for some sweet potato fries, and have it with collard greens. If you want the pinto beans, make certain you get the cornbread and crumble it into the beans. They're great, but it has more of a soupy texture. The cornbread will add some consistency. I'm going to fast for my next visit, especially since they have something called a Hereshie's Chocolate Cobbler on the desert menu, which sounds scarey...) Anyway, in the space of our conversation which revolved around what's happening to my former employer GINORMOUS, he admitted to watching O'Reilly and expecting him to tear into Sarah Palin. I said something along the lines of "What the fuck you talkin' about, Willis?" Somehow, he thought O'Reilly was kind of moderate conservative. This is a smart guy, and a good friend. But, Brother, I know what you're getting for Christmas...a copy of The Federalist Papers and the Constitution.
While that kind of floored me, we agreed on the substance...the country is in serious trouble, and while it's nice that our various stock accounts, retirement accounts and so on are all doing so well after the late unpleasantness, it's all imaginary. There's no reason to think the markets are based on anything other than the itching hemorrhoids of the traders. He asked me to explain derivatives, which indicates that there is some hope. We're both pissed off at Obama for lack of testicular fortitude -- imagine the fun that JFK, RFK, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan or my favorite, Franklin Roosevelt, would have had right there at the podium with ole Congressman Joe Wilson. Obama looked offended and stared hard...I watched Ted Kennedy gut the Republicans in 1970 by ignoring them and pumping up a candidate from the Left Fringe (which in 1970 Massachusetts could be pretty fringey) and turning the race into something between Liberals and Loonies...the Republicans got their 35% of the vote, and Teddy got the rest. The fall after Chappaquiddick. Obama needs to find his inner rat or hire a better guard duck.
And, on Sarah "dangit, I'm special" we agreed. There's no there there, and we don't get it. Well, Matt Taibbi does and I bow to the master . He sees it in a larger context, but she really is more representative of where 30% of the country reside. It doesn't matter that there's no there there...to a large extent, that's really what it's all about.
It doesn’t matter what the argument is about. What’s important is that once the argument starts, the two sides will automatically coalesce around the various instant-cocoa talking points and scream at each other until they’re blue in the face, or until the next argument starts...And while some of us are old enough to remember that once upon a time, these arguments always had at least some sort of ideological flavor to them, i.e. the throwdowns were at least rooted in some sort of real political issue (war, taxes, immigration, etc.) we’ve now got a whole generation that is accustomed to screaming at cultural enemies as an end in itself, for the sheer dismal fun of it. Start fighting first, figure out the reasons later.
What amazes the AXE is that he's nailed it. Politics was once about ideas...policy...direction...doing things. Now it's about a short news cycle and who can scream the loudest. And, most people don't relate to ideas, policy, direction, doing things. They want to sit there, shoving cheetoes into their pie hole and bitching about the assholes. Who're the assholes...everybody.
Complaining about the assholes we interact with on a daily basis is the #1 eternal pastime of the human race. We all do it, and we get to do it every day, because the world is full of assholes. Me personally, I waste an enormous amount of time seething over people who get onto crowded subway cars with big backpacks on and/or talk in the Amtrak quiet car and/or drive 57 mph in the fast lane or, my personal favorite, walking with glacial slowness in a horizontal row four overweight tourists across on a New York City sidewalk. We all get into furious arguments at work that make us want to explode in self-righteous fury (in my office dramas I always realize I was actually the asshole a day or so later) and when we get home from work, this is usually what our loved ones hear about for at least the first hour or so.
Not health care, not financial regulatory reform, not Iraq or Afghanistan, but — assholes.
What can I say...he nailed it. I expect the 2012 campaign to be about whether or not we should all drink Gatorade because it has electolytes, and the 2016 to be decided by a Monster Truck contest.