Thursday, September 25, 2008

Post No. 46: They Actually Faked Me Out - They Really Did

© 2008, The Institute for Applied Common Sense

There are significant problems associated with being an eternal optimist, and always hoping for the best. I’ve often been described as naïve and unsophisticated. I’ve generally responded that I’m usually aware of the dangers and the negative side of things, but that I do not like to occupy my time watching my back.

As a general proposition, I always assume that people will do the right thing at least 51% of the time, and that at least 51% of people are good.

There is another character trait which has been problematic on occasion, that being that I’ve never seen any real reason for conflict. In my view of the world, it’s just not frigging necessary. I mean, why spend your time that way?

For over a year now, I have been absolutely amazed at the vituperative and acrimonious nature of the debate about the various candidates, both during the primaries, and after their respective selections. I’ve watched both sides draw lines in the sand, denigrate one another, and accuse the other of the most heinous acts. That people think that this is acceptable is an issue for another day.

What has most fascinated me is the manner in which party loyalists have lined up to support their candidate’s or party’s position, to the point of being disingenuous. Intellectual honesty has largely been absent. On both sides.

I mean, come on, let’s face it. This disaster has been decades in the making. Anyone who suggests otherwise is just not being honest. It can not be traced to one event in 1999 when a Democratic president was in office, and it can not be traced to any one single event during the Bush administration. Both the Democrats and the Republicans have been complicit in running this country into the ground.

It’s been pretty obvious to common folk. It’s only the intellectuals, the upper middle class, and the talking heads who have managed to convince themselves otherwise, or that the other party was primarily responsible. It’s always been my understanding that the first step in addressing a problem is to take responsibility for having participated in its creation.

It’s just common sense to me.

And the other countries of the world watched this whole thing with amazement.

And while I understand the importance of not creating panic and thus avoiding the generation of emotionally charged negative economic momentum, to have so many in our society (and they’re all responsible) tell us only weeks or months ago that the American economy was strong, and for this meltdown to occur “virtually overnight,” left my head spinning.

Who are these people? Was this a movie that I just watched?

And so it was with some delight, and relief, that I watched the Senate Banking Committee hearing on Tuesday, as they grilled the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and the Treasury Secretary.

I first detected a hint of bipartisan outrage. I thought I observed and heard Senators from both sides of the aisle ask some tough, and not unreasonable, questions. I noted the absence of the speeches typically made before the speakers pose their questions which always telegraph their positions.

At the conclusion of the hearing, I said to myself, “We might actually get something done here.”

Not being quite sure as to whether my perceptions were shared by others, I then watched the news coverage throughout Tuesday evening. Much to my delight, they generally had the same impression as did I. Apart from the banter about the media’s access to vice-presidential candidate Palin during her U.N. visit, it appeared as though some civility had been established.

I managed to miss the political news all during the morning and early afternoon on Wednesday. At roughly 3:30 pm on Wednesday, I saw candidate McCain participating in a news conference indicating that he would suspend his campaign to focus his efforts on the economic situation. He further indicated that he had spoken with the Obama campaign, and that he had suggested that first debate be postponed.

I actually said out loud, “Finally, now we’re talking,” and a huge smile came on my face. Not only had the system worked, but we had finally come together as a country.

I did question why Senator Obama, who has painted himself as able to cross party lines, did not initiate this seemingly collaborative effort. And then reality set in, and the usual partisanship revealed its ugly head.

The Obama campaign had purportedly initiated the contact at 8:30 am, and had suggested a joint statement. The McCain campaign had not gotten back to them until 2:30 pm, and wanted something beyond a statement, and shortly thereafter, the news conference was held.

There were accusations on both sides. “Obama thinks the campaign is more important than the financial crisis.” “McCain is afraid to debate Obama, and is unprepared.” “Obama refuses to respond to McCain’s statesmanlike gesture.” “McCain tried to upstage Obama.”

A joint statement was issued, which was not actually joint. The party loyalists, once again, joined in lock step support of their particular candidate. The noise of the talk show hosts, and their talking heads, reached a fever pitch.

And the band played on….

And I realized that I had been had.

“They” had actually faked me out.

I felt like a fool for having had faith that they could have dealt with this thing collaboratively.

Perhaps I shouldn’t take it so personally. It’s not the first time that a member of the American public has been faked out.

My concern is whether I’ll be able to whip up my enthusiasm again, and again, and again….

© 2008, The Institute for Applied Common Sense

1 comment:

  1. Later today, Saturday, February 21, 2009, at 3 pm EST, C-Span2 Book TV will air a discussion centering on the book, "1960 LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign Which Forged Three Presidencies."


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