Friday, July 25, 2008

EVERYBODY'S GOT A DREAM. Jim Lileks, having recently given us what his fellow analists call a "fisking" to a Garrison Keillor column that was three times length of the column, does something similar with Obama's Berlin speech. Lileks informs us that "'World citizen' is used as a badge of empathy that carries no responsibilities... it dilutes actual national citizenship, which naturally takes second place to World Citizenship." Also, Obama said the 9/11 viictims were from all over the world, but "most weren’t from all over the world. Most were Americans. Which makes sense, since the attack was explicitly aimed at America, not The Globe." In the unedited version, Lileks tells us that the Hudson River isn't really a river but a tidal estuary, America is a republic rather than a democracy, and the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy nor Roman nor an Empire.

This is the sort of tendentious crap in which Lileks has become a specialist. Something about Obama really brings it out in him, though. When he gets to the global warming part he actually writes, "Obama may have heard of the Dust Bowl..." Heh, just maybe! I really expected him to reproduce some Dust Bowl matchbooks to demonstrate his superior authority.

It goes on like this forever, and the point, such as it is, is that Obama's appeal to idealism is laughable to hard-bitten cynics like Jim Lileks. Of course that's just me being tendentious, as Lileks and his comrades have their own Shining City of the Hill, but theirs is built on endless wars, tax breaks for the wealthy, and hatred of homosexuals: it's a vastly more butch kind of idealism, which they believe, with reason, makes it easier to sell.

So they compare Obama's speech to "We Are The World" as a pointed mockery, because that global event took place during the Age of Reagan, and takes them back to a happier time when the fruitier sort of idealism was a mere sideshow, an indulgence to distract feather-haired fools while the grown-ups shoveled money from the National Treasury to their friends in the private sector. They have another old guy running for office now, and if he doesn't sprinkle fairy dust as effectively as the original, this can be blamed on the media's refusal to cover him: voters must take on faith that McCain will restore the natural order of the 1980s. Outside the land of dreams, this doesn't look like such a hot idea, but as long as we stick to symbology, it might just work.

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