It happened today. I was already on edge after the whole well-timed Orange Alert thing. A Homeland Security lady was talking on NPR about how even though the information was years old the danger was still real, and I waited for the followup question about the _timing_ of the alert, in that case, but the question never came. Then I absorbed more campaign speechmaking than I cared to — Kerry pounding hard on the economy because he lost the right to pound hard on what he _should_ be talking about — the Iraq war — when he voted to authorize Bush’s use of force. And Bush’s speech was an irritating marvel of patriotic pablum thrown like a smokescreen over his failures. But it was the general lack of substance in either speech that irked me most, like it does every campaign season, and the troubling implications: that the nation’s campaign wizards put on this dog and pony show of style-without-substance every couple of years because they think that that’s what will most effectively sway the populace, and worse, that they may be right. As the final nail in the coffin, I caught a snippet about skyrocketing punitive tariffs on U.S. goods put up by the EU because Confress has yet to amend illegal trade laws from five years ago. Surprise surprise, the bill to set it right is currently wallowing because it’s weighed down with pork.
That’s when it happened. The weight of it all caused something inside me to snap, and I became, once again, terminally cynical about American politics. It’s happened before, and I’ll get over it, but from now until the election at least, I’m going to have to steer clear of campaign coverage, political commentary, and anything big media, lest my head explode with frustration. The political-junkie me who watches it all with ironic detachment will now take a back seat to the “nutbar conspiracy theorist”:http://www.cafeshops.com/nielsenhayden.10557224 me.
To weather this bout of terminal cynicism, I’ll be turning to “him”:http://www.comedycentral.com/tv_shows/thedailyshowwithjonstewart/, “her”:http://www.wonkette.com/, and of course “them”:http://fafblog.blogspot.com/. All good for smiles, but I’m crying on the inside.