Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tragic Frivolity

My friend Eadler says, "There is no sign that any major candidate is willing to discuss this topic (decline of American hegemony). Ron Paul and Kucinich, who have little credibility with the public at large, are the only ones who approach discussing this topic, but in my opinion, they do not have the pragmatic approach required to fix our problems. They are far too ideological in their approach."

To which I reply: That's the biggest tragedy of all. If any of these products of the corporate-bankrolled, lobbyist-directed political system, from Huckabee on the right to Edwards on the left, has considered these kinds of problems, they've shown no indication of it.

A scholar like Parag Khanna, writing on this topic today in the New York Times magazine, can analyze America's position in the world and the pressures exerted on us by significant others and then make suggestions for action based on the analysis, but are any of the candidates capable of acting rationally and proportional to the changes of the last seven years? Are any of them even capable of understanding these things?

Sometimes it appears that our political candidates actually take the t.v. show they're starring in seriously. But unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing so momentous or profound that network executives can't trivialize it, turn it into a sitcom, and then use it as a platform for advertising.

If there was a nuclear exchange somewhere, it would immediately become a made-for-t.v. miniseries, with its own theme music and its own sponsor, on CNN. "'The End of the World,' brought to you by Depends Undergarments."

America's diminished postion in the world is not a t.v. show. It can't be trivialized or reduced to a sound byte. And how our political establishment deals with new realities, and even whether they are first of all willing to accept reality, will largely determine our future position in the world.

Assessing the quality of the candidates for leader of our country, Parag Khanna comments: Turn on the TV today, and you could be forgiven for thinking it’s 1999. Democrats and Republicans are bickering about where and how to intervene, whether to do it alone or with allies and what kind of world America should lead. Democrats believe they can hit a reset button, and Republicans believe muscular moralism is the way to go. It’s as if the first decade of the 21st century didn’t happen — and almost as if history itself doesn’t happen.

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