Friday, October 6, 2006

The Last Refuge of Scoundrels

The last refuge of scoundrels used to be politics, but modern politics is so full of miscreants that they need yet another refuge within their refuge and they've found it:  The Betty Ford Clinic.  Imagine behavior so beyond the pale that it even gives alcoholics a bad name.  Well you don't have to imagine it--it's on the front page.  Whether it's Mark Foley or Mel Gibson, blaming demon rum has to be the exact opposite of the acceptance of personal responsibility that conservatives value.  But remember, there are conservatives, and there are Republicans--and they are NOT one and the same. 

Demoncrats.  Repuglicans.  Political discourse in this country has never been so depraved and indifferent to the well-being of society.  The atavistic thirst for power and control by both political parties has set in motion a pathological rhetoric that sets neighbor against neighbor, husband against wife, son against father. 

While I believe that it was Lee Atwater who ushered in this crass, cheap, and populist form of negative colloquy, and Karl Rove who raised it to an art-form, arguably both the Right and Left Wings of the political spectrum in America must agree to truce.

The problem is, it works: for them.  The people are held hostage by this faux colloquy which exists by and for politicians.  When I was young there were simple rules of good manners: you didn't discuss politics or religion.  You also didn't discuss how much money you had, or how much something cost.  We've lost something of the innocence of those times, as well as their civility, and I grieve it.

When I read the papers, especially the op-ed pages (to which I am addicted--as they fill me with fear and loathing and this fulfills the addict's crisis mentality) I am struck by the level of vitriol by someone like an Ann Coulter.  She responded to the Foley debacle by calling him a Democrat (as everyone knows--he is a Republican).  This is skirts hate speech.  She said that when republicans get emboiled in a scandal they step down and have the good grace to show their shame.  Yes, Foley did say that he accepted responsibility for what he'd done--but they were merely words.  He hasn't suffered the consequences of anything just yet.  Furthermore, he followed that statement with excuses that weren't excuses:  too much drink--prior molestations in his own past--framing himself in the role of victim.

None of this has any substance whatsoever.  This is grandstanding.  When are we going to really start talking about what really matters?  Healthcare.  Pollution.  Poverty.  Reckless, out of control, corporate hegemony?  Dismay is high.

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