Two days ago I tried to write a blog entry about how the response to Sarah Palin has been extraordinary. A woman remarkably similar to say, Hilary Clinton, is received by her supporters as an Obama-like Messiah figure and her opponents as a Bush-in-drag idiot. The talking heads of the American “left” (a beast as mythical as the unicorn) are spouting about a return to the culture wars and seemingly unaware that they are engaging in just that same battle with just the same vitriolic tactics.
The point I was trying to make and failing was that contemporary America is incapable of politics.
So instead I stuck up some R.E.M. videos.
But good old David Williamson, a guy I think of as my friend although I have never met him, paid homage to one of my favourite writers, David Foster Wallace who tragically commited suicide on Friday after a long battle with depression. The quote he gave from Wallace sums up perfectly how I as, a left-wing liberal, feel about the extraordinarily tabloid caustic bickering that passes for politics:
Everybody’s p—-d off and exasperated and impervious to argument from any other side. Opposing viewpoints are not just incorrect but contemptible, corrupt, evil. Conservative thinkers are balder about this kind of attitude: Limbaugh, Hannity, that horrific O’Reilly person. Coulter, Kristol, etc. But the Left’s been infected, too. Have you read this new Al Franken book? Parts of it are funny, but it’s totally venomous (like, what possible response can rightist pundits have to Franken’s broadsides but further rage and return-venom?). Or see also e.g. Lapham’s latest Harper’s columns, or most of the stuff in the Nation, or even Rolling Stone. It’s all become like Zinn and Chomsky but without the immense bodies of hard data these older guys use to back up their screeds. There’s no more complex, messy, community-wide argument (or “dialogue”); political discourse is now a formulaic matter of preaching to one’s own choir and demonizing the opposition. Everything’s relentlessly black-and-whitened. Since the truth is way, way more gray and complicated than any one ideology can capture, the whole thing seems to me not just stupid but stupefying.
Your Correspondent, He’s overwhelmed, on repeat, emptied out and incomplete