I’m not going to link to anything as I’m too bored to bother, but I just wanted to highlight the absurdity of the Beltway wisdom. This time, their belief that John McCain’s continued support of the Iraq war and his new policy of escalation are somehow bold and dangerous for the guy’s presidential bid in 2008. Because for how much they talk about the boldness of the whole thing, they all seem to be in total agreement about how great he is for doing it. They’ll say it’s unpopular and not poll-driven, but solely as a means of honoring him with praise; praise that was as predictable as the setting sun.
And isn’t that the whole point? Or shouldn’t we at least have suspicions that a person acting in a way that gets them lauded publicly as being brave and strong might be acting that way so as to be lauded publicly as being brave and strong? Sure, maybe that wouldn’t be the first thing that’d pop into the Beltway brains. But you’d think that at some point they’d finally sit back and realize how entirely calculated his maneuver really was. Not as a way of saving things in Iraq, but of saving McCain’s butt here in America.
And the truth is that it was the only position he could take. He can’t flipflop by being against the war (especially as it would alienate the “toughguy” conservatives he’s banking on in ’08), yet “stay the course” was clearly no longer an option. So he was stuck with the fantasyland escalation plan. Reality left him with no other choice. In fact, his only real miscalculation was to not realize that Bush wasn’t left with any other option either; with the only difference being that McCain thought he was speaking hypothetically, and Bush not knowing that it only works that way. But I guess that’s the problem with everything Bush does. I mean, it’s easy to advocate quickie solutions, just as long as you’re not in a position to do something about it. And unfortunately for everyone, Bush is stuck in such a position.
Back to the Pundits
But back to the pundits. They universally praise McCain as taking a dangerous position, which completely undermines the whole dangerousness of it. It’s as if they don’t see themselves as being part of the crowd that McCain is trying to impress. And really, I suspect that this is because they continue to see themselves as being “above” the story. They’re not participants in the drama being played out before them; they’re the audience. The people the drama is being played for. Objective observers far removed the hot-headed events the rest of us are caught-up in. News stories are written by them, not about them. And don’t even think about looking at them directly; they’ll know it for the impudence it is.
And that really does sort of make sense, in their crazy-ass fashion. Because they really don’t see these things as being real. It’s a drama. It’s something interesting to talk about at parties. The new gossip. Like watching the movies, but without THX. Because they really don’t care about this shit and don’t see it as real. They’ve got satisfied, uncompelling lives with nothing much to strive for and no real interests, so they’re left desperately searching for interest anywhere they can find it. Rock stars end up with drugs and sex. If only our pundits could be so lucky.
Sure, they’re fully aware of the influence they play, and they relish it. But they don’t do so as “players”. In fact, the best way to see them is as Greek Gods. They have a relatively strong influence on the actions of the mortals they watch, but they certainly don’t see themselves as being a part of it. They’re above it all. Looking down. Mocking. Always the cool head. Always ready to disengage. They’ll toy with us, but they’re not really interested. And it just never occurs to them that they haven’t nearly the powers they think they have, or that they’re being used and abused just as egregiously as the people they think they’re watching. McCain has long ago learned to play these people as suckers, and yet they continue to see themselves as being above the fray. In fact, it is their belief in their own superiority that allows them to be abused so horribly.
At this point, imagine I had some great ending for finishing this up. I’ve got one in mind, but can’t quite word it properly and it’s late and I’ve got to wake the kids up early tomorrow. And frankly, I’m starting to like these Monty Pythonish non-endings. I’ll probably milk this a few more times before I get too ashamed and start making real finales. But until then, this is it.