Turn on MSNBC at dawn. Invite Babel into your home at six a.m. It's hallucinatory. It might be Pat Buchanan in his last act, to offer a shrill diorama of white rage. It might be Joe Scarborough, a good boy, honest injun', trying for reason, trying for something contemporary, something "now" something hip -- but still, aswirl in the miasma of tit-for-tat politics most of the time.
It might be someone marvelous, like the elegant Jonathan Capehart, or someone totally wiggy and weirdly watchable as John Ridley. Scarborough is oddly sympathetic, posing as buffoon in a fleece sweater thing, but really smart. His honor peeks through in the weirdest way. But it diminishes to keep the very stupidest stories alive. I can't get enough of that show. It's America itself; arguing, bitching, brothers and sisters going at it, always coming back the next day -- leaving their grudges behind. It might be Ms. Brezinski, smarter than anyone in the room, but still endlessly playing tape of the good Reverend Wright. They talk and they talk and they talk and they captivate and guide the national conversation, along with Anderson, and Wolf, et al, but they all remind me of the thing I don't like about Hillary Clinton -- there is a patina of condescension in every last bit of discourse, in every last analysis and in every last precis sentence they offer up for "debate".
And they are stoked, fueled, enlivened by the theatrics of the surrogates for both candidates. Oh the surrogates. Carville as Sancho Panza, Reverend Wright as some sort of Farrakhan manque as it is written. (I've heard the same things he said at the most diverse dinner parties on both coasts, except the speaker wasn't black and wasn't yelling.)
As the day goes on, you start to feel insane, if you keep MSNBC on. Bill Clinton implied or didn't imply that Obama was not a patriot. Discuss. Discuss some more. ( I think "who is getting paid for this debate?") Because the same stuff is rehashed in a sisyphusian cacophony from dawn to midnight, with some breaks for shows about prisoners and their tattoos. On MSNBC I think the vice president of the United States just shrugged again about the dead children of America. You can see the blood slowing and thickening in his arteries, occluding and blocking all the impulses that are responsible for decency.
Everybody has something to say. All of us. Me. You. We yell and fight and roar and score points.
Okay. There are two candidates for the Democratic nomination. They have to talk about the millions of uninsured, the children of this country who have been bypassed by life itself, by opportunity and by hope. They have to talk about the economy and the war and our absurd financial indiscipline -- but all they can do is take defensive positions on the endless babel spewed out by their surrogates.
By eleven, one is exhausted, and feels poisoned. The commercials alone -- atop the presidential panoply -- make one feel like it's a bad smog day in L.A. No matter where you are.
It's seven p.m. There's Hardball with Chris Matthews, who seems also like the last honorable schoolboy, but somewhat....compromised by the sheer concretizing effort of putting on that show day after day. Everybody wears a tie and has a haircut. The women, passionate and committed, go out and sell it. Whatever it is. Katrina Vanden Huevel is on as I write, promoting Richardson as VP for Obama (of course), while Ron Brownstien (author of a perfect book about Hollywood's intersection with Washington) shrugs and plays cool. Buchanan is back with his inability to ever, ever see the shade of gray.
Chris bemoans the soap opera of the Democratic war, while never mentioning that he's one of the guys stoking it on and on and on.
THERE ARE FOUR THOUSAND SOLDIERS DEAD TODAY. It is used as the anchor for a "discussion of the surge".
Some shit has gone down in Detroit with the mayor and perjury over sex. The distractions are like bubble gum to bad breath; a temporary relief at best. Now it's Olbermann, the bastard love child of Howard Beale and Hamlet, and I watch him tell us about bedbugs(!!!) at Fox-news - I watch, feeling a bit like Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo, when the lens does something unknowable, stretching, elongating, bending...
And yet there is real life. It remains ever present. We can not avoid it. Journalism is insufficient to the task, and art seems to have lost a certain metaphoric elegance -- it doesn't draw people in.
I send money every month to the Children's Defense Fund. I think about the things I can do.
It is no secret that I am madly in love with Obama and everything he stands for. I talk to my shrink about an America that does not elect him. I think it will be the end of some hope, some dream for the realization of everything that Martin Luther King stood for.
If it doesn't happen, I will retreat. Into the small and the quiet. My friends, my family, my work. No public hope. I worry that my anger at Hillary Clinton is muddy, but then I think about the impression of falsity and the condescension she exudes. To me. I know she doesn't hit everybody the same way. I think about my friends who keep asking me not to slam her anymore.
MSNBC in the background. Iraq. In the background? How do we get out? Matthews is speaking to Richardson about Carville and the Clintionian sense of entitlement (only within their staff -- I disagree).
I know I will do anything I can for her if she is the nominee, but my dreams for this country will have died. I wish Senator Clinton and Senator Obama could silence the gutter-sniping and solely talk to the issues of what it means to be an American circa 2008.
I am terribly angry over the Clinton's praise for John McCain; so craven, so vicious, so cynical and so wrong. In the background, Richardson is passionately extolling the virtues of his guy
and the night goes on, the talk goes on, unabated and I watch, I judge, I scribble, my passions agitated. What next?