The Surreal Life, Campaign Edition

LipstickOnAPugI think the last 10 days has been my longest time off blogging since 2006, and I’m trying to figure out why I’ve had nothing to say for so long. It’s no coinicidence that my dry spell began with the selection of Sarah Palin as the Republican nominee for vice president. I was expecting another “Harriet Miers moment” for the conservative blogosphere–some effort by Republican intellectuals to insist that, no, the vice presidency (like a Supreme Court slot) was too important an office to hold hostage to contingent political considerations. Instead all I got was ever more sophistic efforts to justify the selection–and even assertions that Gov. Palin would be a better president than McCain, Obama, or Biden. (Credit where credit is due: Ponnuru, Koch, Frum, and Krauthammer have all raised doubts.)

We’ve been through a vertiginous week or so, with a kaleidoscope of commentators opining that Palin would sink, save, inspire, or incriminate Steve Schmidt and the merry band of Rove-epigones now running the McCain campaign. But today is an inflection point. The media-crafted uproar over Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” comment–brilliantly dissected by Glenn Greenwald here–will either generate a “backlash to the backlash” that returns us to seriousness, or will spur ever more frivolous navel-gazing by the press corps and its solipsistic pundit class. We’ll either confront the lies permeating our political public sphere, the endless parade of distractions or diversions, or succumb to them.

A few days ago, Thomas Friedman argued that a response of “drill, baby, drill” to the current energy crisis is about as struthious as arguing “typewriters, baby, typewriters” at the dawn of the PC. As income inequality skyrockets, one candidate wants the wealthiest to pay a fair share, while the other wants to give those making over $2.87 million per year an additional $269,364 annually. We’ll either face these facts head on, or we’ll make a nation ever less capable of collective action, ever less competitive on the international scene, ever more susceptible of being distracted and perhaps destroyed by the panem et circenses now substituting for democracy.

Photo Credit: droolcup.

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