Friday, November 28, 2008

Longing For The Bad Old Days

A number of my friends have contacted me in recent days wondering why I haven't posted anything on my blog for more than three weeks now. After all, before the election it was all I could do to keep my musings down to three or four a week and people were worried that something terrible had happened to me.

The truth is that since the election it's just been hard to come up with interesting things to say. After a couple of years of constant passion and issues of legitimate contention, we had gotten terribly spoiled. Back then, all a person had to do was sit down at the keyboard and the thoughts came pouring out.

Since that fateful day, it's been tough because there seem to be very few issues about which reasonable people can disagree.

The only people who are carrying on the fight are the professionally angry bloviators of the far Right Wing like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh who didn't get the message that they have been fired as self-appointed spokespersons for conservatism and the Republican Party. They aren't conservative--they're just angry and what remains of their "base" has shrunk to the point where it is no longer statistically significant.

But pretty much everyone else has been on the same page for weeks now. It's hard to find anyone on the Left, Right, or in between who's not reassured by the way President-elect Obama has been handling himself. He has been intelligent, careful, and smart in his appointments (except for selecting Hillary Clinton to be secretary of state, but that's a conversation for another day). It's ironic that the man who Republicans had painted as a socialist and an ultra-liberal has only been criticized by the far Left for being too centrist in his appointments.

It has been so long since we had a president who thinks things through and makes appointments based on competence and ability that we had forgotten how reassuring it feels when it actually happens.

The other emotion that has united us has been fear. The horrible news from Mumbai over Thanksgiving has been shocking and probably hasn't really sunk in yet, but the truth of the matter is that most Americans have been scared to death for months over the financial crisis that we have now exported to the entire world.

Much has been said about the greed of the various villains in this play. But let's be honest--we have all known for years that people in business are greedy. We tend to idolize and reward financial accomplishments. The term "successful" is generally used to describe someone who has made a lot of money. What is shocking is just how stupid and short-sighted our government and financial leaders turned out to be.

As the stock market and every other asset class has collapsed over the last two months, there has been plenty of anger, outrage, and finger-pointing. But most people are past that now. Now we're just afraid--not just because we're in a huge mess but because no one really believes that it will end quickly or painlessly.

It's sort of like the feeling one might get after drinking a whole bottle of scotch and starting to feel sick (by the way--I'm speaking hypothetically--I would never do such a thing). You would do anything to come up with a way to feel better immediately but you also know that it ain't going to happen. The only way to keep from spending the night in a state of total misery is not to have drunk so much in the first place.

So here we are. United in fear. Hoping for better times and praying that the very smart man we have picked to be president can get us back on track.

It's not the end of the world and things will eventually get better. We all pretty much believe that. But in the meantime I fear it's going to be hard to come up with provocative and interesting things to disagree about.

Maybe that's not so bad. After two years of constant passion and contention it's sort of nice to all be on the same page for at least a little while. Nice--and a little boring.

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