Friday, May 28, 2010

Disaster. Louisiana. Bush. Obama. Go!

Why do I feel like journalism has become a Second City improv game?

Okay, there's a disaster in Louisana and everyone's looking to the President for comfort and action. Your props are the American wetlands, the Gulf of Mexico, and 456,000 barrels of oil. Go!

If this were a comedy revue, would you aim for some subversive Bill Hicks rant about greedy oil companies? Or do you go for the cheap Katrina bitch-slap?

I suppose the comparison was inevitable on account of ... you know ... water being involved. So let's ask it one more time: Is the BP oil rig disaster Obama’s Katrina?

What a fascinating motherfucking question. It brings to mind several others ...

Is an oil rig explosion a recurring natural phenomenon that happens with seasonal regularity?

Did a private corporation cause Katrina in an unregulated rush to tap its wind-power?

Did Obama appoint an unqualified crony to run the response effort?

No, no, and no.

Katrina sank Bush because hurricanes are predicable, common, and natural. The shiny new Homeland Security apparatus was supposed to help us with that kind of threat. It didn’t.

People who think BP’s disaster will sink Obama are more than mistaken or cynical; they are engaging in a grand projection of guilt. We expect all levels of government to mitigate natural disasters and we feel betrayed when they don’t. A devout Reaganite like Peggy Noonan should feel betrayed by the colossal failure of a private corporation like BP. But no, that injury must be strenuously repressed and then superimposed onto Obama. Daddy's only a bad man when he drinks, Peggy. And what makes Daddy drink? Government regulation.

If people are looking for a parallel catastrophe to process the present one, they needn’t look any further than last month’s Goldman Sachs hearings. Then, as now, profit was privatized while responsibility was socialized. The same angry voices that want government to stay out of private business now expect government to promptly wipe the ass of private business when such a business can’t control itself.

Like most liberals, I've been having a grand time watching the Tea Party twist and contort itself to explain their sudden concern for deficit spending. Or their beef with the Civil Rights Act. Or their Medicare-funded, Social Security subsidized crusade against ... federal entitlements. It's been a pleasure, seriously. But I think the bank bailouts were easier to rationalize or repress because Wall Street remains a dark abstraction to most of us. Argue all you want about public-v-private securities and the Community Reinvestment Act and the repayment of Citigroup's loan in T-bills. Nothing about the financial catastrophe has the lingering, viscous stench and stain of an oil spill. Yet they both sprout from the same source.

Pundits have been trying to chart the Tea Party's growth and locus on the political landscape, but I think it's rather obvious, isn't it?

Say you belong to the Republican Party. It's the year 2000 and things are looking great for you. You've got a war on. You've got an unimpeachable Cause blessed by the undeniable horror of 9/11. You've got a faithful conservative President who talks to god, hates private regulation, and believes he can do no wrong. And then wrong things start happening anyway. The war begets more war. No one knows how to memorialize Ground Zero. The market vomits on itself in the absence of regulation. God sends a hurricane to murder more people than 9/11 did and yet god saw fit to spare the sinful French Quarter at the same time. You lose Congress to Nancy Pelosi. Then you lose the White House to an urban, intellectual liberal.

Man, that's an embarrassing story.

I totally understand why you would want to put on a costume and pretend to be someone else for a while.

Your scene's coming up. Got your props?

No comments: