Sunday, January 29, 2006

Gore Vidal on Fear

Gore Vidal has been there, done that. I like what he has put together from his many many years of observation and critical thinking. His development of the "Closing of the American Mind" speaks volumes about the cumulative effect of fear -- and just as significantly, despair -- in the service of power. 

Vidal's work is done with what appears to me to be a relentless hope grounded in an honest memory (thus the correct reading of Tiberius' history.) I understand hope to be the opposite of despair and thus the divining of history and current events offered by those without hope is a much more cynical hermenutic. 

Cynicism as it projects despair is popular because it takes little or no courage at all, requiring only the strength to fend off altruism while one is allowed to put on the guise of tough realism. Think of Rove's latest criticism of some democrats he claims are reading the world through “pre-9-11 eyes.” He only sounds tough. But his realism is not tough or realistic at all! It is cynicism with all the incumbent misinterpretations of history, all the false rhetoric, all the fear-mongering, and all the abuse of power to maintain power of an apocalyptist without hope. 

Cynicism is the canary in the coal mine of any generation's "closing." But behind it there is a deep despair. Whatelse allows a 20 year old Georgian to support Sen. Frist's threat of nuclear option as the "best option" allowed by the politicization of "advice and consent?" Does the Constitution encourage us to understand as rubber stamp what is really the high authority of "advice and consent?" Frist et al would have it portrayed as a duty at best to "give the president's nominees the up or down vote they deserve." No high callings around. How audacious of the Kennedys and Kerrys to presume otherwise! 

I understand consent in general as the action of a parent or board of elders like the Senate. Who were originally unlimited in the number of terms they could serve and elected on a slower cycle than the other offices of national import and thus privileged to an honest memory. Remember term limits? or perhaps more pointedly said "will the real originalists please stand up!" Later on I'll get my rant about term limits and the need we have to repeal that freakish legislation. We forget the role it has played in accelerating change, in making elections more easily purchased than contested and in concentrating power toward the top of both parties and away from the grass roots. But like I said, that's later. 

For now read Vidal. 

Published on Saturday, January 28, 2006 by TruthDig

President Jonah

by Gore Vidal


While contemplating the ill-starred presidency of G.W. Bush, I looked about for some sort of divine analogy. As usual, when in need of enlightenment, I fell upon the Holy Bible, authorized King James version of 1611; turning by chance to the Book of Jonah, Read more

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