Tuesday, April 19, 2011

what america needs: more cheap theatrics

if you didn't think politics in the US could get any worse, donald trump is beginning to be treated as a serious candidate for the presidency in the national press. granted, it's the murdoch media, but the WSJ is the highest-circulation daily in the country, so when you have their beneficium, it's worth something -- even to a shameless, preposterous hack like the donald.

"Donald's as serious as a heart attack" about running, the journal quotes Tony Fabrizio, a top GOP pollster, as saying.

trump, for his part, is eating up the attention like a hog rooting out truffles. as befits a megalomaniac, the donald stands in awe of his own magnificence: on NBC's today show, he declared, "I think I am presidential."

we all know, of course, that to the megalomaniac, thinking makes it so -- especially if one has the money and is a reality TV star. trump seems to relish the attention, as well as the opportunity to express his own admiration of himself. from the journal piece:
In an interview, Mr. Trump said people are finally realizing he's serious. "Originally they said, 'Oh, Trump is just having a good time'," he said. "Then they were saying, 'Well, this is getting interesting.' Then as of today they are really taking it seriously...I'm not playing games. I am totally serious."
and that, i submit, is what makes the trump phenomenon so frightening, in a way. not that the man has the remotest chance of winning the presidency. no matter how far the state of political discourse has fallen, and how monstrous and contrived the contemporary political campaign has become, the oligarchs will anoint  candidates who function as feckless drones who pitch the corporate line without a hint of irony. 

while trump is too colorful and flamboyant to actually be a major-party candidate, he shows how the marketplace for "candidates" has morphed since 2008. from the embrace of hapless sarah palin by those unwashed masses yearning to be led by someone as ordinary as themselves, popular taste has leaped to the preposterous TV huckster who's both amusing and depraved when he declares, "you're fired!" to some unlucky schmuck.

the US is an empire rotting at the core, and at it's heart the malfunction that's killing the republic is the triumph of spectacle over substance. politics has become theater, a form of outrageous entertainment. elections are becoming more akin to talent shows, or a youtube video that goes viral, and popularity -- having replaced seriousness -- is measured by clicks instead of the ballot (which is a different business altogether -- and nothing but business).

we've cheapened and coarsened the discourse, until now this is what passes for political analysis: "'There's just something about him that is intriguing people, and I think it's that he's saying things that other people just think,' said Robert Haus, an Iowa GOP campaign operative."

correction: it's not what people think at all. it has nothing to do with thinking. and that's the whole point.

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