Saturday, January 12, 2008

Charlie Pierce brings welcome clarity

Since Eric Alterman migrated his blog from MSNBC to Media Matters I blush to admit that I sometimes forget to read his Friday columns, which is where the inimitable Charlie Pierce checks in.
    Well, two days in New Hampshire, and I know less about this election than I knew a week ago. On Monday night last, I saw McCain, two busloads of alleged reporters in tow, give an utterly astonishing speech on the steps of the town hall in Exeter. Ten years ago, I spent a month with him for an Esquire profile, so I know the depths of the charm. But this was the most bloodthirsty campaign speech I ever heard. We are surrounded by enemies. John himself is personally going to get medieval on those Iranian speedboats. He's personally going to make that sad bastard who burned his passport "regret his decision." He's going to follow Osama bin Laden personally "through the gates of hell" if necessary. Send him an earmark, and he's personally going to "make you famous." At this point, McCain seemed to be running for sheriff of Nottingham. This was 10 or 15 minutes of unbridled public paranoia. It screamed for coverage. It got none. Rather, the inevitable election night fluffing ensued. I like the man a great deal, and there's nothing low and sneaky about this campaigning. It's just a bit, well, nutzoid.

    And, not for nothing, all you cats 'n kittens on all the buses, but this week's most important story concerning the 2008 election took place in Washington, and not in Nashua. The Supreme Court of these United States seems poised to find some narrow bureaucratic reason to give constitutional imprimatur to official Republican voter-suppression efforts in Indiana and elsewhere. As near as I could determine, this case never came up at any point during the weekend, but it could work to obviate in part everything else that happened. (Black voters in Georgia, for example, are going to be delighted.) Written in response to a "problem" that its own defenders admit doesn't exist, the law is almost farcical in its intellectual corruption, which means it likely will find a ready audience among the cowardly piddlers who represent the most lasting legacy of the Avignon Presidency. And I don't want to give the Obamaphiles any more reason to throw rocks, but I would point out that Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito -- To say nothing of Tony (99-0) Scalia -- both represent the triumph of Broderian bipartisanship. (The Great Compromise, remember? In which the Democratic senators reached across the aisle to maintain their right to filibuster by agreeing never to do so.) Is this the kind of healing we need? Is this the kind of bipartisan good faith through which we once again become a great nation?

    Yes, we can.

    But sometimes, we damn well shouldn't.
Bless you, Charles. That's the voice I've been needing to hear. (Though I'm not sure I read Obama's idea of bipartisanship the same way you do.)

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