Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ave, Mike!

Naked Villainy is always a good source for politiblogging, but my old friend Mike has outdone himself with his latest long essay, a cogent rant given the misleadingly simple title of "The Media." Mike's a diehard conservative, but in this very fair-minded piece he spreads his cheeks and dumps generously on Democrats and Republicans alike for participating, through their premature multimedia campaigns, in the ever-accelerating deterioration of the American mind, one symptom of which is our decreasing attention span.

Some choice quotes from Mike's wonderful piece:

In case you didn’t know, your Maximum Leader believes that campaigning more than 1 year before the election is unseemly. (Excursus: Although your Maximum Leader is not a big fan of such laws, he would support a law that prevents people from raising or spending money in pursuit of the office of President of the United States before the September/October the year before the general election. And while he is engaging in a little excursus, campaigning is — in general — pretty unseemly.) He is deliberately doing what he can to avoid paying attention to what the candidates are saying or doing at this point.

I haven't watched any of the debates, either, but not for lack of a desire to do so. I admit to more than a little morbid curiosity about the whole thing. Mike's paragraph is a chastening reminder that I need to pull my head out of my ass.

Regarding the flurry of debates in various media (e.g., TV, YouTube):

Your Maximum Leader thinks that these moronic testaments to mediocrity should be abandoned as rapidly as possible. They should be replaced by candidates debating a single thoughtful question. Here is your Maximum Leader’s plan… The candidates are paired off in a series of Lincoln-Douglas style debates. Each debate would have a single theme. Each candidate would be allowed a 30-minute explanation of their position and plan on the theme. Then each candidate would have a (30-minute) chance to rebut whatever the other candidate said. If a candidate didn’t want to participate in these debates they would have to drop out of the race and donate any money they raised to a charity (the name of which would be drawn from a hat).

I just about applauded that last sentence. And then there's this crushing follow-through:

Of course, no candidate would agree to this debate format. Do you know why? Because not a single candidate out there could actually string together a cogent 30-minute statement on a single topic. Can you imagine Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, or Rudy Giuliani speaking on their plan for Iraq for a full 30 minutes? Your Maximum Leader can’t. Well, that isn’t exactly true. He can imagine them speaking in platitudes and obfuscations for 20 minutes and rephrasing the sound bite of their position on Iraq for 10 minutes. He can’t imagine them starting off with their own assessment of the situation in Iraq, then moving to a point by point analysis of what they would do to “solve” Iraq if they were elected.

Do you know a second reason why no candidate would agree to this debate format? Because they know no one would broadcast it.

I'm sometimes awed by my friend's political cynicism. It occasionally strikes me as analogous to my own relationship with religion-- there's something, well, love/hate about it. Mike's a historian by vocation, and he admires many of the historical figures he has studied, but he also approaches history and politics with a pronounced skepticism and circumspection not always found among people who write about politics.

Anyway, I've saved the best for last by not quoting the main point of Mike's essay. I encourage you to visit Naked Villainy, read the piece for yourself, and offer your reactions to it. As I told Mike privately a few minutes ago, I found his piece satisfying on more than one level-- as a rant, it did my heart good, and as an example of the classical conservative engaging in cultural critique, it was impressive.


No comments: