Saturday, February 03, 2007

I don't quite get it

The Chris Matthews Show--I got up early this Saturday morning, 0630, zero dark thirty, to watch the Chris Matthews show; I've been watching Chris perform since I arrived at Holy Cross in the fall of 1964, finding him a year ahead of me and holding forth daily in raucous and impassioned discussions in what we called "the caf." The 1967 Purple Patcher tells me that--

"Caf" is an abbreviation for

a) a place to sit and watch other people sitting and watching,

b) a room where you can hear lunch-room theologians, boasting casanovas, budding leftists, and "Caf rats" discuss the importance of Polynesian Frog Worship,

c) an enameled chamber designed by the architect of Madison Square Garden's washrooms,

d) all or none or some or any of these

Most don't know that Chris owes much of his style to dead Jesuits. But, I've digressed. But, what the heck, it's Saturday. Anyway, what struck me as I listened to this week's gathered pundits extrapolate political data in order to game the primaries in February of 2008, a full year away, was that we were focusing on something that's a mere whistle stop on the way to the main event in November of 2008, and that's a very long time to be talking about these same aspirants, and a long time for them to be playing to the audience of potential voters. Can't we talk about something else for a while, like what is do-able and achievable here and now, and not after somebody gets elected in 2008 and into office in 2009?

The other, more pernicious aspect of these campaign-horse-race shows is that the candidates, whom we've not yet elected and may never elect, have more ability to form the public dialogue and to sway public opinion than the people we've elected already. Are we being fair to ourselves to take ourselves out of the present and focus on a hypothetical future? Let's get some work done for a change, and stop talking about what might happen, if only somebody gets a chance to implement their ideas, and if only they work out as advertised. Let the aspirants be known by their deeds, not by their promises. Let them be known by their works.

Which begs the question: Does any real work ever get done by people in the political arenas, or do we all just talk about it, as we slide into an abyss we refuse to talk about?

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