Sick and Crazy

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.

4 Replies to “Sick and Crazy”

  1. Good comments Dan. I saw the Daily Show segment, too, and also wanted to spit on my TV. Worse, I thought, was that Dan Bartlett (WH Communications Director) appeared on the show immediately after the parody, yet was never asked about any of Bush’s “words”. Some agreement, perhaps, not to discuss? Or, just reality that Jon Stewart’s show has nothing to do with journalism. (Well duh.)
    If anyone cares, the video is available on the Daily Show website, featured on the right, here:
    George W. Bush, Words Speak Louder Than Action
    http://www.comedycentral.com/tv_shows/thedailyshowwithjonstewart/

  2. Yeah, it was a little strange that he didn’t try to engage the Bush guy more. I’ve seen Stewart with other conservatives, and he generally takes a polite, please-try-to-explain-this tone; compared to the denizens of “Crossfire,” “Hardball,” and what have you, he’s incredibly well-mannered. I also think “The Daily Show” is interesting vis a vis journalism. In a way, they’re taking the approach that the only way of expressing the “truth” is by pointing out the absurdity of some of the behavior and rhetoric we’re all being asked to swallow. It would have been good to engage the Bush guy on the stuff pointed out in the mockumentary, but it probably wouldn’t have done much more to make the point.

  3. Dan: I looked at the John Stewart parody of Bush. It was really very funny and allowed me to look at a good synopsis of Dubya’s watch without arousing the impulse to spew. I remember the “spitting” moment. Ah well, we’re older and more responsible now. Right?

  4. I’d love to say that I watch the news, but these days I pretty much get my news from the local paper and The Daily Show. I’m a pretty smart guy, or so I’ve been told but I seem to have a pretty low tolerance for what passes for news these days. At least the Daily Show is honest about their fakery. The ZELL ON EARTH segment made me lose it with laughter big time. The only time I felt let down was when John was way too easy on Michael Moore when earlier he ripped on the previous day’s guest (rightly so) for trying to sell a purposely slanted book about the “War On Terror.”
    Great Show. Funny though as it is actually becoming more real than the “real” stuff.
    Whoops, the timer says my time is up…

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