Sunday, July 06, 2008

What Frank Rich Said

I am becoming more and more convinced that the political cultures of both the U.S. and Canada are riding on a parallel track to a dead end. Frank Rich expresses what is going on in the U.S., in today's column:
Let oil soar above $140 a barrel. Let layoffs and foreclosures proliferate like California’s fires. Let someone else worry about the stock market’s steepest June drop since the Great Depression. In our political culture, only one question mattered: What was Wesley Clark saying about John McCain and how loudly would every politician and bloviator in the land react?
Just substitute "Alberta" for "California" and "Garth Turner" and "Albertans" for "Wesley Clark" and "John McCain", then Rich's statement would fit perfectly, the political dynamic here in Canada. Both politics have been reduced to the level of schoolyard psychodramas, where gossip is currency and "Who's in and who's out?" is the only question anyone cares about.

Update: Nik Nanos points a finger at the Internet. He has a point, but I think it is a chicken and egg situation. Is the blogosphere a reflection of the greater political culture or the other way round? Myself, I think we have been heading in this direction for a long time. Paddy Chayefsky predicted it in the 1970's. Neil Postman wrote about it in the 1980's. We are a culture of of amusement and our media, including our news media, caters to this culture. Gotcha politics does not exist because of the existence of the blogosphere, it exists because it is entertaining and easy to understand and convey. It exists because it sells and it sells because we buy it.

Update 2: If you watch nothing else, watch the 14 minutes or so of Paddy Chayefsky (the two Chayefsky related links above) on the Dinah Shore Show (the Dinah Shore Show!). It is an interesting artifact. I doubt, very much, that a discussion on the state of the culture would dominate 14 minutes of a talk show in 2008.
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  1. "Is the blogosphere a reflection of the greater political culture or the other way round?"

    Fester, do you realize how much you're starting to sound like Carrie Bradshaw?

  2. Fester--you're fabulous!