Saturday, November 1, 2008

Plumbing The Depths

Words come with difficulty. Bizarre. Unbelievable. Depressing. There are many more, but they seem to be piling up behind my right eye, building, plowing into it, hot, painful. Is this really an election? Can this truly be the centerpiece of a campaign as our economy collapses, deficits overwhelm all understanding, wars lumber on, oil runs out? Does John McCain mean what he says? Is this really an American hero, the role model of a senator and presidential candidate? He has a job for him in his administration? Famous for asking a single question, the guy later admitting he'd be better off in under Obama's tax plan. Now known for misrepresenting his situation, and for being under a lien over unpaid taxes!?!? Do the words "hero" and "role model" no longer have any meaning? In these times, are we that empty?

Nausea makes it hard to laugh, and crying does no good. The spectacle of John McCain elevating Joe (with his agent, his record contract, his offer from Laura Ingraham to mastermind a run for congress) to a national figure says a great deal about the current state of the Republican party: to whom they are trying to appeal and how little they think of those folks. And, of course, it says something pretty pathetic about the ones who cheer him on. It's not surprising that the party of Sarah Palin -- a singularly unprepared national figure -- would lionize a guy like ol' Joe. It's of a piece, I guess, with their criticisms of Barack Obama, a man of undeniable intelligence and depth, who's been thinking and learning and writing and talking about important issues for years. One can only conclude that dumb is their direction, that they've ceded the high ground, taken a pass on policy.

I'm sure Joe is a nice guy (actually, I'm not: he seems sort of nasty, and he is either really poorly informed or such a partisan that -- like the one who idolizes him -- he finds facts mere annoyances. Israel, he tells a crowd, is threatened with doom if Obama is elected. Marxism, he warns, taking up the latest deception.) I like plumbers. Plumbers have bailed me out, quite literally, more than once. I've even learned a little about their craft from watching them. I liked taking care of people with grease under their nails more than I did fancier professionals. But there's something surpassingly weird about this lionization and fawning by McPalin and their media sponsors. And it's not just that Republican policies over the years have been disproportionately disadvantageous to such blue collar folk.

In the near future I plan to write a little about the dumbing down of this country. It's undeniable. I blame Republicans: not all, just the most "base," as it were. The deniers of global warming. The rejecters of evolution, the young-earthers. The redacters of scientific facts. They're in the White House, they're in every state -- especially the South. They're in megachurches, sending money to their preachers who spend it on fancy homes and porn. Seriously. It's a curse on us all, because they can turn elections. They don't want hard; they don't want complex; they need enemies -- they cling to them, one might say, whether it's the devil, Muslims, or Democrats -- to keep themselves motivated and from facing reality. They think small, they think bumper-sticker thoughts. They love Joe the Plumber, but they really can't admit why. They would, however, happily vote for him. When the going gets tough, the weak get stupid.

A campaign, based on a myth. The ultimate rejection of seriousness. Vacuity as value. Anti-intellectualism as archetype.

It's funny.

But really, it's not.


  1. It does make me sad, too.

    I object when people use such epic words as "hero" or "terrorist" as wantonly as we've seen recently. The title of the video game Guitar Hero almost makes me retch.

    My verification word is "handle". I think the verification system may be on the verge of sentience.

  2. In the near future I plan to write a little about the dumbing down of this country.

    You should read Greetings From Idiot America by Charles P. Pierce, still as relevant today as it was in 2005.

  3. They're in megachurches, sending money to their preachers who spend it on fancy homes and porn

    You mean like Rev. Wright?

  4. Thanks for coming back Dr. Schwab! Everytime I see Joe the Plumber held up as the example of a middle-class worker who will be hurt by Obama's tax plan, I think "but isn't he the guy who HASN'T PAID his taxes?" Just when I think the Republican campaign can't get any weirder or dirtier, they bring Joe the Plumber on stage. I turned my ballot in today. I hope logic and intelligence prevail on Tuesday. Voting for Change in '08!

  5. B.A: four bedrooms? Are you kidding? That wouldn't hold Swaggert's porn collection. A million dollars? Gimme a break. Pat collects that in half an hour, wouldn't consider it adequate for a guest house, if that.

  6. Sid,Sid,Sid, still can't get over you're supporting a guy opposed to Homosexual Marriage, next thing you'll be voting for a pro-lifer. Its like that old joke about having sex with someone for $1,000,000, you're still a prostitue. Anyway, when your head explodes Tuesday night, remember, its Airway first!

  7. Frank, I'm a big picture guy.

    And I have a DNR, in the event McCain wins.

  8. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, we all know how those DNR's work, unless its Notarized and Laminated hanging from your neck, its not gonna do you any good, and even then all it'll do is annoy whoevers doing your emergency trach.


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