The last couple of days, I was feeling like I was watching the wheels come off the world or something. The school hostages and a subway terror attack in Russia. More of the same in Israel. Nepalis slaughtered in Iraq and rioting against Muslims in Kathmandu. Meantime, our ruling party is celebrating the fact it’s put the terrorists to flight and is proclaiming its readiness to keep going for four more years. I don’t think they’re talking much about the cost, human or financial.
Then this evening, we were getting our dose of doctored reality from “The Daily Show.” I had failed my civic duty by neglecting to watch the Republican celebration of their Remaking of America — my neighbor Piero watched the speech, and at one point during the delivery went out on his front porch and just screamed — but I knew it would come up in a form I could swallow on “Daily.” And sure enough, they had a clever little parody of a Bush convention documentary, spiced up with lots of examples of mis-speakings and contradictions and outright untruths. At one point, there was a clip of Bush saying (pretty close to verbatim), “You can’t distinguish between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida when it comes to terrorism.”
That provoked my son Tom to get up angrily and leave the room, commenting, “I’m really sick of this country.” Boy, did I recognize that moment. I remember watching a Nixon speech when I was about his age and getting so mad that I spit on the television. Tom came back after a few minutes to explain why he was upset. Partly it’s the sense — fed by us to some extent, I’m sure, and also from some of his more thoughtful friends — that people are letting the whole Bush gang get away with a huge lie. Partly it’s frustration that he sees so many of his peers, even here in Berkeley, unwilling to pay attention, much less vote. And partly it’s the realization that what he’s seeing will affect his future, has already affected it.
I had nothing to say, really. It’s a hell of a world we’re leaving him.