Happy-Time Fun Column

« September 2005 »

The fundamental problem with being a progressive - even an incredibly cynical one - is that you hope things will change for the better. That's the whole point and definition of being a progressive. You want things to change for the better. To be a progressive is, in many ways, to be eternally disappointed.

Example. There was a brief period, for about a day and a half, about two weeks ago, when I thought that maybe Something Was Happening. After the NO Flood, journalists staring corpses in the face remembered what their job was, and started challenging the people in power for answers that matched videotaped fact for a change.

It seemed that where 9/11 brought us a short-lived, fake "death of irony", that the New Orleans Flood was ushering in a real "death of bullshit". The cynical in my cynical progressivism said it wouldn't last, but the progressive dared to hope. And was, of course, disappointed.

Nothing's changed, you know. The incredibly transparent "finger pointing blame game" talking point did its job, and did it in an almost metatextual way. Nobody was actually arguing about whether fingers should be pointed or blame should be gamed. They did, however, argue about whether people should be SAYING things like "finger pointing" and "blame game". And the media jumped on that argument, because it fit the left vs. right template that they'd forgotten about for a while, and slipped into it like a warm, shit-filled sock.

Why, just this week, headlines were full of the phrase "take responsibility". Bush Takes Responsibility! Bush: "I Take Responsibility"! To read these headlines and opening paragraphs, you'd think that President Bush actually accepted responsibility for the mistakes the federal government made so blatantly and obviously during the early days of the flood. This is, however, just more of the bullshit that my foolish side thought we might not be letting people get away with. Never has the word "actual" been more important than in this ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!"

"To the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility." - President George W. Bush, Tuesday, September 13.

To the motherfucking extent. Didn't ostrich-raping fully do its enema-gulping job right. That is not taking responsibility. That is not admitting a mistake. That is as conditional, if not more so, than Clinton's famous definition of "is".

If the Republican-led joke of an investigative commission is struck by God's own lightning and manages to determine that any mistakes were made by someone other than their disgraced horse judge, AND those mistakes meant the government did less than a perfect job, THEN AND ONLY THEN will he take responsibility.

But the statement did its job, which is to SAFELY eliminate one of the left's talking points - that the president never takes responsibility. Never mind that he didn't really. Never mind that there are no CONSEQUENCES for his failure. It's now firmly established that by putting the word "take" next to the word "responsibility", regardless of context, that he's done something remarkable and new, and should be commended for it. Fuck that noise.

That is bullshit. And it is not dead, it is alive and dancing and much more vibrant than poor abused irony was two weeks after 9/11, I'll tell you that much. Apparently, it's going to take even more than a city drowning to wake people the fuck up and keep them awake through more than a few news cycles.