Dumbed down

Right about now, I oughta be writing something wistfully nostalgic about the World Series or some memorable Halloween party tale, but I simply cannot suck it up and actually do it. To do so feels somewhat forced, as if you were to continue blow-drying your hair with one arm while your other arm gushes blood after being sliced off by a chainsaw. We’ll get back to the hairdo soon, I’m sure, but first, let’s stop the damn bleeding.

So here comes the election at a time when America is hemorrhaging at a pretty alarming rate. Don’t think so? Must be nice to be in full ostrich mode. Most of the hemorrhaging, of course, centers around Iraq. You know. Duh. Here are some comments from ace Newsweek columnist Fareed Zakaria, who was actually in support of “Operation Steponowndick” for a couple of years. “There is really no functioning government south of Kurdistan … it’s time to recognize that the Iraqi government has failed … Iraq is now in a civil war. … It is also time to face the terrible reality that America’s mission in Iraq has substantially failed.”

Meanwhile, there is much talk that the shenanigans of gay blade Mr. Foley could cost the Republicans the Congress, or at least one of its houses. A reasonable person would say, “Fine. Whatever it takes to send these fiends packing.” Still, a reasonable person might also say, with absolute astonishment at the American People, “You mean one Republican congressman sending horny e-mails to teenage boys could sway your vote in this election, but this gigantic, gaping, ongoing wound in Iraq couldn’t ?!?!” Just how far down have we dumbed in this country?

Speaking of Foley, (1) The guy is getting excoriated for basically heavy breathing via the Internet. He never actually touched a congressional page or a minor. It’s something that needs to be said that this new King of Pervs attained this dubious status while sitting at a computer with his pants around his ankles. (2) Foley’s crimes or problems or fetishes, whatever they might be, tell us one thing: Foley gets off on flirting via e-mail. That’s it. His deeds tell us nothing about Republicans in general, just like the Bill and Monica Show told us nothing about Democrats in general. And yet, you have people and pundits speculating on how this seamy episode will hurt the Republicans in the election (probably will), and how the Democrats have engineered a nasty little October surprise (yeah, right) and blah blah blah and so on and so forth. Such talk does tell us this: As a culture, we insist on indulging in this incredibly sloppy mode of thinking that says that sex scandals give us the green light to go ahead and make blatant, inaccurate and ridiculous generalizations about groups of people. Of course, they don’t.

That said, this whole Foley caper couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of quasi-fascists. It’s about time Hastert got a chance to flop sweat on the national stage.