Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Death Is An Illusion

Observe American politics long enough, and not only will you get a series of brain-splintering migraines and endure several phases of depression and despair, you'll notice how little reality changes.

Now that Obama has the nomination all but locked up, and is drawing Springsteen-sized crowds where followers shriek and faint, liberal pundits and scribes are asking the age-old question: Is Conservatism Dead? One glance at John McCain and the answer seems obvious. But McCain's not really the problem -- not yet, anyway. At the moment, he's trying to wipe Bush's bloody shit from his face in an effort to appear "fresh," while reaching out to those skeptical reactionaries who believe that McCain's not quite crazy enough for them. We'll see how they feel come Fall.

The idea that the American rightwing is gasping for air is of course nothing new. We've been down this well-trodden road many times. Eyal Press in The Nation and George Packer in The New Yorker acknowledge this in their respective semi-obituaries; yet each flashes some hope that perhaps this time, reactionaries are finished for a generation, their ideas rejected by the masses worn down by Bush-era failures, the young embracing the Dems as the force of the future. It all sounds perfect, which is why many liberal bloggers are clicking their heels together in an effort to make it so. Why, we're in the middle of profound political change!, they type, confident that Obama will glide into the White House to usher in a New Progressive Era, assuming that the mean old Beltway media which hates Democrats doesn't destroy his coronation.

There are numerous adults, some of whom have advanced college degrees, who honestly believe this ahistorical crap. In a way, you can't blame them. The US they fantasize about is so far from their actual political grasp that daydreams and reveries are about all they have left. The people who own the country encourage this playtime, as it keeps the system itself free of radical scrutiny while keeping consumers focused on personalities, promise-givers, entertainers, and would-be saviors. The Obama Show is merely the latest version of this, and the elites lined up behind Barack have chosen wisely. The cat really caresses a tune. Compared to him, McCain is like a fading Milton Berle telling ancient stolen jokes on a later version of "Hollywood Squares." Still, Americans are just lunatic enough to elect this bad comic over the mellow singer their betters prefer, but those are the risks when you allow the public to ratify political decisions made above their heads. Either way, we're still fucked, which would be fine if it was at all pleasurable. Instead, we have to kill the pain through relentless masturbation, and stroking to Obama makes the process of getting reamed a little easier to take.

The American rightwing is not dead: it has temporarily lost its voice, and will return full-throated in due course. Pray to the souls of JFK and Bobby, rub your liberal lamps in the hopes that a progressive genie will emerge, buy tubs of lube for the Fall campaign. In the end, it really doesn't matter. Reactionaries are a permanent American feature, at least until America inevitably crumbles, and then the Real Fun will begin.