Calhoun’s Cannons for June 3, 2011
Humans are the only animals who will follow unstable pack leaders
Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer
The political silly season – summer – started early. First we got the full-throated press pack baying after Donald Trump every time he popped his fox-red furry noggin up past the petunias. La Donald was flogging his TV show by pretending to run for the Republican presidential nomination. “ I’d be yOOOge, yuOOOge!” promised the Donald. But the only thing yOOOge was La Donald’s ego, his hairpiece and, as most people guessed, his 60-million dollar “Celebrity Apprentice” salary which trumped even fake political ambition.
This delightful romp was followed by the next distraction: the mystery of who hacked his Twitter account and publicly posted a photo of a crotch that may or may not be Congressman Anthony Weiner’s weenie. (Oh, Dear God, plueeeze don’t tell me we have another Pesky Political Penis running amok again. Are we going to have to only elect eunuchs in order to get anything done in Washington?) Well, the vital national security issue of Weiner’s Weenie will carry the 24/7 news cycle for a few days until it’s time for the Next Pointless Thing to distract and amuse an ADD nation.
And that rumble you hear comin’ over the hill, diesel fumes in the mornin,’ fumes that smell like . . . Victory, by golly!, well that would be the Queen of Silly, who has and will continue to top them all: Sarah Palin’s Yes I’m Not Running For President ‘12 tour is on the road in a ginormous bus with a huge “One Nation” and a flag painted on it, with the press pack, like Pavlov’s dogs, tongues running out, baying right behind it. And already La Palin’s faux complaining that the press is harassing her, that she and her family are on a little vacation, just like any other heartland family.
Oh, absolutely. You see those heartland “real” Americans all over the road during summer: Dad, who’s been out of work for a year and Mom, who is working two jobs to keep their underwater house afloat, regularly rent a huge, incredibly expensive bus and then have it hand-painted with a flag so they can then take the family on a meet-‘n-greet celebrity photo-op tour vacation to eat pizza with La Donald in New York and make little impromptu stump speeches at various historical American sites. Just like all hard-working real American families do when they go on vacation, you betcha!
All of which, in Palin’s case, is reminiscent of Marie Antoinette who costumed herself and her ladies-in-waiting to look like milkmaids so they could all troop off to a newly created faux farm on the grounds of Versailles to play at being peasants.
And so the Silly Season Summer dance begins, as structured as a pas de deux: Palin pops up, the media bays. They can’t help it. Their jobs depend on it. To their corporate masters, La Palin is pure ratings gold. And to La Palin, those ratings translate into real gold as well. Fake political campaigns, as La Donald and La Huckabee and La Gingrich and the other assorted well paid La Pols on Fox News have discovered, pays waaaayyyy better than public service.
As for the public, well, they demand their daily dose of celebrity as well. It now seems hard-wired into our popular-culture psyche and we are helpless in its grip since the human eye is programmed to scan for and focus on novelty – that unexpected movement in the shrubbery that demands attention.
You see the phenomenon at work every time a TV camera is doing an on-the-street interview, for example. Invariably, somebody will pop into view making a face or yelling something or holding a dumb sign. And try as you might, it’s impossible to ignore that action. La Palin has that pop-up strategy down to a fine art form. Nobody knows how to effectively surf the 24/7 news cycle schedule better than she and her handlers do. Masters at the game.
Is our country on the brink of financial ruin? Default only weeks away? Are the effects of climate change already upon us and because we have dithered, we are totally unprepared and will pay a fearsome price for our folly? Is a nuclear-armed Pakistan riding the Taliban tiger and now can’t get off? Is an Al Qaeda-infested Yemen now on the brink of chaos and civil war?
Well, pay no attention. It’s not important. What’s important is fake news, Dancing With The Stars, missing wieners and now the constant novelty of pop-up, Wack-a-Mole celebrity political theatre. That’s what Americans want, and what Americans want, they get.
Meanwhile, Democrats, comedians and pundits are praying – praying – for a Palin/Bachman GOP presidential ticket. It couldn’t possibly get any better than that: Politics as Farce.