Thursday, February 02, 2006

The State of the Union: A Citizen's Rebuttal

February 1, 2006 Guest Columnist The State of the Union: A Citizen's Rebuttal By SARAH VOWELL The state of our union is stunned. We democracy spreaders remain shocked, shocked, at the Hamas sweep in the recent Palestinian parliamentary election, never, ever, ever before having experienced a deficit of wisdom on the part of American voters. And that is not only a sarcastic shout-out to the loss of electoral innocence brought on by that time "Dances With Wolves" beat out "Goodfellas" for best picture at the Oscars. No, it is merely a weary barb borne of the ongoing grind that is the current presidency. For there are American citizens who used to think that there could be no greater blow for representative democracy than a president worming his way into the White House thanks to one Supreme Court vote. That is, until the day said president was actually elected to a second term by an electorate that overlooked the previous four years of galling, irrevocable policies with upbeat, intelligence-insulting slogans — "Clear Skies," anyone? — to say nothing of entering into an ugly war based on lies that has made the world a more dangerous place when it wasn't exactly all Davenport, Iowa, to begin with. Thus the election unleashed four more years in which even a goody-goody nice girl, who was raised to believe that "shut up" is a curse, cusses at her morning newspaper with the foul mouth of a gangsta rapper who has stubbed his toe. Except for that one creepy, silent breakfast when it hit her that her psychologist friend Kate, who counsels torture victims at the Bellevue/N.Y.U. Program for Survivors of Torture, might someday have patients damaged by operatives of the United States. In fact, it has been said that God is currently angry with America. But according to God's publicist, the Supreme Being would like to clarify that He's not angry, but that "He would like His name taken off the credits." The state of our union? Screaming for reform. Lately there have been justifiable calls to reform the influence of Congressional lobbyists, the structure of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the publishing industry regarding the veracity of memoirs. But let us also call for the reform of the takeout industry. Let's say, hypothetically, that a citizen of New York is awoken after midnight by a noise in her apartment at the precise moment she is dreaming that her stalker is threatening her at knife point, "Don't move." So, half-asleep and unable to discern reality from dream, she lies still, quietly hyperventilating until, after a half-hour has passed, she bolts for the phone and has the comforting 911 operator stay on the line as she searches for intruders in every room and closet and, this is embarrassing, the microwave (that's how spooked she is), until finally she looks down at the floor in the foyer to see that the scraping noise she heard was the nine thousandth Chinese delivery menu of the year being slipped under her door. So, Mr. Speaker, how's about a moratorium on menu break-ins after 10 p.m.? But let us conclude by looking on the bright side. Some Americans used to waste their free time writing to the White House or phoning their Congressmen to inform government officials of their opinions. Now a concerned citizen may get her point across to Washington about the Iran situation by simply complaining via cellphone to her friend Brent, who called to brag that he met Ambassador Joe Wilson at a party at Sundance. A pessimist might complain that thanks to N.S.A. wiretapping, American civil liberties are woefully at risk; an optimist might point out that sure, things are bad, but they are so bad that even the crabby conservative strategist Grover Norquist has been driven to sweetly rooting for his political enemies, telling The San Francisco Chronicle last week, "For 40 years we always assumed the left would take care of our civil liberties." He added, "If there were problems, the Democrats were the ones who would push back. But now with a Republican Congress and a Republican in the White House, the A.C.L.U. can't get their calls returned." The state of our union? United — at least on one small thing. Despite our differences about the war, the economy, the environment, health care, education and Gulf Coast relief, let us come together to celebrate the sole issue we, as a nation, agree on: Anderson Cooper sure has swell hair. Sarah Vowell, a contributor to public radio's "This American Life," is the author, most recently, of "Assassination Vacation."She will be a guest columnist during February.


At 2/03/2006 05:34:00 PM, Blogger reptilemediawatch said...

Actually, I don't like Anderson Cooper's hair. But I do like your entry.


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