jeudi, novembre 16, 2006

Let's hear it for Unity!

We live in an age in which political reportage is almost invariably tinged with the reflective veneer of irony. Many citizens my age and younger get the news, if they get it at all, from the comic trio of Maher, Stewart, and Colbert. In a world in which we are able to access information on events almost as they occur, it often seems as though the commentary precedes the event that is its subject. Is the teasing irony of the Comedy Channel a low form of humor? Are we infected with a desire for the wry zinger and the arch one-liner? Who cares? The comic approach to much of what passes for news is what helps us survive it. Take American politicians (and give us Italians, you say?) If we didn't laugh at the antics of our two large political parties we'd be out on the street in sackcloth and ashes, or fomenting another revolution. For example-the Democrats were swept back into positions of authority in part because they came down so hard on Republicans for a "culture of corruption." The ink wasn't dried on the ballots before Congressman John Murtha demonstrated an apparent contempt for ethical reform-remarks that are consistent with his previous behavior. Isn't it nice to see that, lacking a huge conversion experience, some things don't change? Speaker Pelosi's second in command, Steny Hoyer, also has a history of getting into bed with special interests. And let's not talk about Republicans like Trent Lott (he's already said way too much) and Mitch McConnell. But the question is not how predictable it was that Democrats, after brandishing the scimitar of reform, would put ethically challenged representatives in charge of "ethics reform." That was probably a given. Who were they going to ask? One of the freshmen with a relatively clean record and no pull? They aren't part of the "system" yet. Not that working for the government should excuse long time employees in Washington's culture of legislative decadence. Instead, we voters should be asking ourselves-what would it take to change an organization as huge and complex as the US Congress? What kind of systemic purging would have to happen to get our elected officials to care more about public interest and less about special ones? But then, we also have to ask ourselves-do we really care enough to lobby (grin) for that kind of revolution? Are we more disgusted than jaded, more active than ironic? Aux armes, citoyens?

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