Charlie provides an invaluable reminder of the weirdest case of journalistic fixation I can think of. Welcome note of what a rodent William Saffire was, too. I though he might be the last of a dying McCarthyite breed, but nooooooo.
The broadest explanation I’ve run across is a regional/cultural disdain that grows ever more repulsive: who do these Arkansas lumps — her with the fumpy dresses, him with the fast-food and shades and saxophone — think they are trying to run a country that’s crowned by Manhattan? They’re too seedy to not be guilty of something. And we’ll find out what that is if it takes 50 years and we have to make it all up.
Farhad Manjoo said it best in the Times:
an overall attitude that brutish capitalism is the best that nonelite customers can expect from this fallen world
That is our current condition in America. The anti-materialist crusaders in my youth warned that this was all to possible. Back then, I thought the danger was real, but that awareness of it would be enough to prevent it happening. But then, I thought the lessons of Viet Nam would be learned and we would not stumble into our current state of endless war. It coarsens, and corrupts and gives strength to the pernicious idea that we live in a cursed world where there’s no agency, only fate. And that chaos is only a form of change.
As a child I heard a number of then-cryptic or opaque remarks from adults that stuck with me and seem more and more apt.
One came from an ancient ranch-hand who was a permanent resident in one of the rooms of my father’s hotel. He had been around in the late 19th century when there still was something of a Wild West and a Frontier. More than anyone I knew, he seemed diminished by having to spend his days in town and sleeping in a couple small rooms. But he couldn’t even walk down stairs any more. He spent a lot of time sipping cup after cup of weak coffee at the cafeteria counter.
During slack times when I was working behind that counter, the old dude would reminisce about the “Open Spaces” and his years helping herd cattle and sheep. He was especially fond of afternoons when he could be utterly alone — no sign of human activity as far as he could see. That was the real Open Spaces.
He knew that was less and less possible. One day he said something strange:
“When there’s no more Open Spaces, all that will be left is pounding on each other.”
I must have the flu (fever, runs, painful wracking coughs, overall sick feeling). I was smug, not an anti-vax zealot — most years I don’t even get a cold and can only remember serious flu a couple other times. But I enter the at-risk category this year, and yep, from now on, flu shot every fall.
Cannot do the least bit of serious work.
I wouldn’t say this dreadful sriracha-infused cheese is definitive proof the stuff has reached the ultimate level of bogosity, but has to be close.
I agree this is an incredibly important article and must be read. Makes sense of several key mysteries — including how Trump won without spending bupkiss on standard advertising. And indeed, the creepy icing on the freaky cake is that the article has not yet been officially translated from the original German.