Tuesday, August 12, 2008

HYSTERICAL BLINDNESS. I go off the grid for a couple of days, and come back to find I've lost my bearings. Though I'd covered the spectacularly dumb "Celeb" McCain spot, I was totally unprepared for his latest goofy ad. It seems to me that as Russia invades Georgia, the market convulses, Kashmir heats up, Musharraf falls, and our President, after fucking off to the Olympics all weekend, makes obviously toothless grimaces over South Ossetia while much more effectively sabotaging the Endangered Species Act, that even the Republicans would find it hard to tell people that their greatest danger comes from a Presidential candidate whom people like too much.

Given the circumstances I think the McCain campaign is consumed by the political equivalent of a fit of nervous giggles. There's nowhere else for McCain to go but negative, but the normal Republican negative routine of dark, dystopian portrayals of Democratic rule -- Dukakis' filthy Charles River, Mondale's unattended Russian bear, etc. -- would just remind voters that we are on the verge of dystopia already. The only course left is evasion, not merely of current political realities, but of reality, period. So they fixate on the one about the Obamessiah, and ring endless variations on it, as if it were the Holy Grail of comic material, impervious to wear, tear, and overexposure.

No matter how simply and directly critics point this out, the second-line McCain operatives have a single ready answer: that the critics are just projecting -- which is a mildly intellectualized way of saying that they don't get the joke. But even if we concede that there were something to the joke -- and that's a big concession, given how overstrained the right-wing laugh factory has gotten -- a sensible person would have to acknowledge that we are getting past the point where even a good joke would do. Normally I would assume they had something stronger prepared for phase two, when we are all within sight of the day of decision and have to face facts, if for no other reason than self-preservation. But I have a feeling that there is no Plan B. I should be happier about that, considering how I'd like the election to go. But as the examples of tulipmania and the Great Awakenings show, mass delusions, even when contained, wind up playing out badly for everyone in the end.

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