Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Monday, March 07, 2005

Welcome to the Age of "Meh"

Nobody gives a s*** about Jeff Gannon. Nobody. Well, nobody who isn't a blogger or a blog-reader, which means practically nobody. Nobody gives a s*** that a hooker (nevermind that distracting 'gay' crap--except for the fact that he's a shill for an administration that not-so-secretly thinks that Matthew Shepherd "got what was coming to him") with no journalistic credentials to speak of got within spitting (or in this case, fellating) distance of the President so as to ask him profoundly--ridiculously--biased questions, which it seems are the only kinds the guy can answer.

As I see it, there are two ways to read this, one positive, one negative: A. The Karl Rove propaganda machine that has been running with the efficiency of a perpetual-motion device is finally corroded with complacency and beginning to break down, or B.--and this is the one I ruefully believe--these folks have realized that there is no bottom--that they can't stoop so low that their partisans and an indifferent press-corps won't excuse/ignore it.

Because it's gotta be the latter, doesn't it? I mean, nobody in the media cares enough to report on the fact that the powers that be think so little of them that they knowingly let an internet hooker into their ranks--think about the message that sends to the other White House correspondents! But CBS and ABC reported on this not at all. At all. And the rest of the media outlets seem content to let the 'full investigation' we've been promised by the administration do the heavy lifting on this one. (Hey, while we're at it, why don't we give the cops and the D.A.s a break and let the criminals investigate their crimes? I mean, they're the ones 'on the inside.') Simply put, they don't care about Gannon. Just another day. And you don't want to make waves in the White House--you might have to get your lies from the Press Secretary from the live feed instead of being in the same room when the feces is flung in your faces. (My favorite comment on the brouhaha comes from, of course, Ann Coulter: "Press passes can't be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the president." Oh my God, you've got to love that woman. Racism, age-ism and outright vicious idiocy contained in a single pithy sentence. Somewhere out there Lyndon LaRouche and Pat Buchanan are shaking their heads and saying, "Wow, that woman is just nuts.") Is that it? Fear of being shut out of the loop? But if the loop is all lies--if the loop contains people like the treasonous Robert Novak ("Don't impugn my integrity just because I compromised national security and a woman's life because her husband criticized Bush!") and Gannon, then why would you want to be a member of that club? I'm sure once Woodward and Bernstein started sniffing around, they got shut out a bit--didn't stop them from pulling off the journalistic coup (literally!) of the century.

But the press don't care. They don't care because, well, first of all, most of them are blow-dried idiots who got the job because of their ability to have good hair and deliver lines with sententious gravitas. But second of all, it's the times, isn't it? Aren't we in the Age of Indifference? The Age of "Whatever"? The Age of "Meh"? "I'm p-paralyzed with happiness," says Daisy Buchanan, as she remains supine on the couch rather than rising to greet the arrival of her cousin. We, too, are in an era of paralysis, aren't we? An age in which stuff either comes too easily to us (why get up, go outside, drive--or god forbid, walk to the bookstore, where they might not even have the book you want--then have to come all the way back, when you can just go online to Amazon?), or way, way too hard--a fact that robs us of the ability to arouse our nobler instincts when the rotten log of government is accidentally kicked over.

On that note, am I the only one increasingly creeped out by these 'town hall' meetings Bush keeps holding, where they only let in people guaranteed to fawn--isn't the whole point of a 'town hall' meeting to hear the concerns of the common people? But then, even if they voiced those concerns, he wouldn't really hear them. During one recent meeting, a woman tried to explain why Social Security was important to her because she's had to work three jobs just to keep her head about water, a revelation he described as "fantastic" and "uniquely American"--a moment of Chauncey Gardiner-ly inadvertant honesty. Yes, Mr. President, it is "fantastic" as in "unbe-f***ing-lievable" and "uniquely American" in the sense that the minimum wage you are determined to keep as viciously low as possible and the health care system you're determined to keep as cruelly inadequate/expensive as possible are forcing your citizenry into life-killing choices like working three jobs--none of which, I'm betting, are full time or give any kind of benefits. You just know she works at Wal-Mart, don'tcha? Oh, and as a follow-up, he asked if she "got any sleep," and laughed--laughed--when she replied, with unhappy honesty, "Not really." This man is an intellectually abortive monster. And we don't care.

We don't care. We don't care about Cheney and Halliburton--old news, man. We don't care about the government paying talking heads six-figure incomes to tout its policies as their own opinions. We don't care that reporters for the New York Times sell the war as a good thing because 'it's what's going to happen anyway and might as well get on the winning team.' We don't care about the Attorney General's memos titled "Torture--It's FANNNNN-tastic!" We don't care that failures like Rice get promoted--that Scalia will be Chief Justice. We don't care. We don't care because--why? Because caring risks disappointment? Perhaps. Yet Cubs fans persist--and Red Sox fans finally lived to see their caring pay off. And, who knows, maybe Episode III won't suck. (Yes, it will, but still.) There are small reminders around us that hope is not a loser's game. And yet about the big things--the integrity of our leaders and the choices they make for our lives, the media that was once the fourth branch of the government and now exists solely as a wing of the Executive branch, the fact that Not Killing Minors won by the slimmest majority possible among the Nine Worthies--and that when Rehnquist retires Roe V. Wade will be on the chopping block toute de suite--we don't care. We shrug, we say "Meh," we go back to watching re-enactments of the Michael Jackson trial. We don't care. And the people who are supposed to get us to care--they don't care either. I'd like to think that right before his retirement, Rather will snap and pull a Howard Beale on live television and scream about the "bulls**t" and how he's mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore (and frankly, if anyone's high-strung enough to do it, Rather is), but so what if he did? We'd just enjoy it as this year's equivalent of Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, and go back to not caring. Remember: "Meh." Forever "Meh."

People, we're five years into the decade, and as yet no one has bothered to slap a numerical moniker on it. Not surprising really. After all: "Meh."


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