Monday, October 5, 2009

American Radicals!

Occasionally, usually by accident, as a result of the seemingly endless and futile process of changing channels in search of something fresh, entertaining, and insightful, I happen to catch a few moments of some main stream media talk show whose purpose is to discuss "current events." My general impression of the caliber of thought on display in such shows is that, where the ideas are not trite and fatuous, they are idiotic. For example, last evening, for about two or three minutes, I suffered through the empty headed patter of a platinum blonde twenty something who offered that she didn't care for political radicals like....wait for it....Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olbermann.

The poor youngster further opined that characters such as the two aforementioned titans of radical politics were not good for the country. Somehow I got the distinct feeling that, given the choice, the bubble headed young woman would describe herself as a Republican. But that is neither here nor there, since, putting aside her presumption that she knows what is good for the country, and regardless of what party the young lady aligns herself with, she clearly hasn't the foggiest notion what constitutes political radicalism. Clearly, she was confusing the vitriolic style of Limbaugh and Olbermann (vitriol in the service of generally status quo political positions) with radical politics. In short, hers was a confusion of style over substance, which, when one thinks about it, is only fitting for the metier of television.

Perhaps the most dispiriting aspect of her politely rendered yet ridiculous assertions was that no one bothered to point out to the young airhead that neither Mr. Olbermann nor Mr. Limbaugh are, by any stretch of the imagination, political radicals. Maybe Joy Behar, the show's fifty something host, is as confused as her guest, and believes that Rush Limbaugh more closely resembles the aspect of a young Adolph Hitler, rather then erstwhile Republican power broker Tom Delay. Keith Olbermann would, in such a calculus, be the present day incarnation of, oh, say, Eugene Debs, as opposed to the doppleganger of that triangulating and ubiquitous master of middle of the road politics, Bill Clinton.

The truth is that, save for a few remote corners of the blogosphere, there is almost no radical political energy anywhere to be found in the entire United States. The tea baggers and town hall criers of this past summer were, and are, for the most part, fat, white, and scared old age pensioners, no more radical in spirit than the latest model of SUV being produced by General Motors. The aforesaid retirees were vitriolic as well, but with too few exceptions to mention, their ire was directed at those they felt were about to change the health care game in a way that would undercut their longstanding comfort and security. Fair enough. But that's not radicalism, not by a damn sight. Don't expect to see their like out again in public, unless someone threatens to take away some other entitlement they deem as non negotiable. In the meantime, if you want to hear some radical political ideas, don't bother with messieurs Limbaugh and Olbermann.

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