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Loss Creates Delirium in Post-Election Loss Creates Delirium in Post-Election
by N. L. Wilbur
2008-12-21 08:44:44
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We were once so high, not too many weeks ago. The campaign was in full swing, and even the apolitical could surprise us with a tidbit here and there about who said what according to whom, how the other party responded, its play in the media, the various levels of spin, effects on polls, campaign funding, crowd numbers at rallies.

We junkies, while impressed and gleefully willing to join any discourse about the election, of course already knew all of this. We read it, all of it, every column inch and every comment, at the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Huffington, Drudge, Politico.com; you name it, we could cite it.

Day and night we seethed over false campaign ads, wagered bets on states like Florida and North Carolina, analysed the analyses of each candidate's health care policy into the wee hours of the morning and barked orders at the television as Barack Obama calmly proved incapable of being broken down by the demagogue-style of attacks coming from John McCain and his bulldog in lipstick, Sarah Palin.

It was an agonising two years, especially for those who had made up their minds after the first few primaries, but the suffering brought a necessary comfort, an integral balance to the political junkie's masochistic lifestyle.

Despite the media blitz on every quote, quip and gesture, we still felt as though Google News was suffering a shortage of campaign coverage pieces. The craving burned for the latest insider take, the latest endorsement, finance reports, voter registration drives. The resources were vast, but we'd read them all by 9am each morning.

We counted the days like children wait for Christmas, praying - some of us for the first time - to gods we'd only recently discovered from random Internet searches for blogs or personal websites of anything under-reported in the mainstream media - we prayed that our fears of voter fraud and ballot tampering would prove to be mere figments of our Bush-Gore-induced paranoia; that the pollsters were being conservative in their lead projections rather than lazily presumptuous; and that our darling would make history as the first black president of the United States without any tide-changing catastrophes emerging late in the game.

Our hearts ached with that empty, my-dog-just-got-hit-by-a-car feeling when we missed the latest update in the Times or electoral map projection on RealClearPolitics.com. And eyes would spasm as we tried maintaining focus on the slew of words filling the response box after reading a scathing forwarded message, always from a blood relative, about Obama's Muslim heritage, his socialist leanings, his birth certificate.

We originally prayed to our newly discovered gods for Election Day to arrive. But then it did, and voting went so smoothly, completely devoid of the controversies for which we had so anxiously prepared. The polls closed, the GOP appeared to have turned off its ballot tampering machine, and the Republican nominee from the great state of "Dustbowl" finally gave us an honest, heartfelt speech: a concession to the victory of our angel, Barack Obama.

We woke up the next day with hoarse voices and a throbbing headache from the 12-hour celebration, a night during which we saw the sun rise with tearful speeches and tributes, thank yous and sharp-tongued farewells; it was November 5, and we survived. But just as we released that pent-up, GOP-fear-induced angst with a long-held sigh of relief, we choked on the next inhalation, shifting focus to the question we apparently failed to see coming, and everyone from here to Morocco seemed to be asking the same question: "What do we do now?"

We make coffee, run out to grab the paper and feverishly turn the pages looking for the latest campaign news. Beyond the expected coverage of the victory, everything we already witnessed on CNN, C-SPAN, ABC and FOX the night before, there is little worth our attention. The headlines read like Armageddon is on the horizon: "What now for GOP?" (LimaOhio.com); "What Now for Joe Lieberman?" (National Ledger); "What now for new voters?" (Medill Reports); "What's next for John McCain?" (Arizona Capitol Times); "What's Next For Sarah Palin?" (WMDT); and the truly desperate, "What now for cable news?" (Modesto Bee).

All of these headlines seem to avoid the real question: "What now for political junkie journalists?"

Three pots of coffee later we're still sitting at the computer, ignoring calls from work and impatiently refreshing the Google news page, every hour on the hour, if not earlier. Still defiant, even after the end, mumbling to ourselves "It's not over," then clicking away in search of some evidence to support our fantasy. We still have the Minnesota senatorial race, and for a while we had Alaska too, but now not even Missouri is too close to call anymore. We're left to latch on to whatever inspiration we can muster, and it comes suddenly and briefly from news that Nebraska gave one historical electoral vote to the Democrat.

We're forced to uncover our eyes and see that 21 months spent as an emotionally volatile political junkie creates the same monster as any other drug would; that excess spawns dependence; that eventually our sources are tapped and a fix is unattainable.

The fog has lifted and we're unable to look away from the naked truth of having it all stripped away in a single night, then teasingly replaced by the prospect of a stupid inauguration ceremony: loss creates delirium, and anticipation creates full-blown madness.

We plead as passionately now for the end of the Bush era as we did for the end of the sleazy campaign season. Our pleas have turned to loathing as reality sinks in and we're forced to accept that the once red-carpeted campaign trail has turned to gravel, and although the resurfacing process will begin again in two years, the World Series of politics, and journalism, will not return for another four. Four more years …

The sudden void is now screaming for its fix, and as before Election Day, it feels like ages until Obama is to be sworn in. We have the well-meaning Constitution to thank for that, as it provides us political junkies a three-month rehabilitation period to rediscover a normal sleeping pattern, regular diet and moderate level of adult beverage consumption.

The only semi-comforting part about this somehow unplanned-for state of shock is that we're not alone, we junkies. Not at all. Drained and deranged, trembling and salivating like a dog awaiting the release of that dangling bone from a teasing master, we finally arrive, all of us, but we arrive at the same dead-end location.

We're overwhelmed with a sense of uselessness. The streets are crawling with fedora-wearing newspaper men wandering around in a drunken state of hallucination, not in celebration but remorse, trying to exercise this shared demon but are capable only of assuaging the election-induced depression by moaning and puking and yelling at shadows from the streetlamps.

The daily newspaper journalists are the last to turn their backs on the campaign, to admit it is over and accept their inevitable and expected return to meeting quotas with press release regurgitations about the local Elks Lodge event this weekend, PTA meetings, flu shot season.

Media reports have turned purely speculative as the Obama presidency lays in wait and our lame duck president waddles around the White House in his last days, avoiding pretzels and contemplating how to rig the Texas governor election and unseat incumbent and actual Air Force captain Rick Perry in 2010.

Their laborious fruits come far short of quenching our thirsts as we refresh Google News and find a slew of stories only on the coulds and shoulds and mays and mights of the new administration: "Obama could signal a new brand of politics" (Oakland Tribune, Calif.); "Obama should back job-creating tax cuts" (Press-Register); Obama may reverse Bush policies on stem cells, drilling, abortion" (CNN); "Obama might tap former Bush antitrust staffer" (The Daily Deal).

We know the end has come, but the reporters still sniffing out the campaign trail are capable only of drawing private nods of sympathy, even pity, from the audience that just two months earlier had stayed up all night waiting for another instalment of the Campaign Trail blog. And then, one day, we see our journalistic heroes break down, their desperation at unfathomable lows: a Tampa Bay source informs us, "No dog yet for Obama family."

Humour columnists from LA to the suddenly great democratic state of North Carolina are far more flamboyant about their loss. They're either writing pieces about what little there is left to write about, or they're admittedly entering hibernation until 2012, when they pray for the second coming of the Palin Effect - or a senatorial run by Dubya.

The updates on the latest former vice presidential candidate pale-in comparison to the gaffes she provided on the trail; news about McCain's retirement plans are as engaging as his stump speeches were for the 1,500 people who attended months earlier; and as the Obama administration continues its search for cabinet members, the headlines are heavy in references to "vetting", the word choice surely a deliberate if last-minute poke at the Republican ticket.

Depression sinks in, the New York Times blog goes on the deactivation list, and I bow my head in shame at having to admit that I'm starting to miss Joe the Plumber.


   
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Sand2008-12-21 09:00:49
It is somewhat depressing to see the turn of an election as an exercise on a kind of political sport related to the World Series or the annual football frenzy instead of a look at vital issues which are central to the lives of all US citizens and the rest of the world.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-21 09:37:44
Cheer up all of you political junkees, the Minnesota senate seat counting goes on, Obama and Clinton's senate seat are still for grab and Sarah Pelin is still swinging her hockey stick and putting lip-stick on the pig. Scraps, you say, but what is garbage to one man is treasure to another.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-21 09:39:08
P.S. And then again, just take a look at the ad on top of this article.


Sand2008-12-21 09:50:06
Paparella's comment that what appears treasure to one man is garbage to another is a most cogent appraisal of his own output.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-21 16:31:58
Funny how people who have assessed other's output garbage, insist on rummuging through it in order to render a verdict on it; the pig with lipstick on or a bully with a pooper scooper? We can let the readers decide that one.


Sand2008-12-21 17:06:54
I didn't render any verdict, Paparella, you did and it seems to coincide with my view.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-21 19:03:41
I still don't understand why one would insist on rummaging through what one consider garbage. On the other hand I am beginning to understand why some put the ocean between themselves and those they have smeared and slandered, for after all there are legal remedies to that kind of undesirable proclivity, some states even consider it a criminal act. That is not to put under a cloud of suspicion all expatriates, but the spectable you have made of yourself in this forum leads one to wonder, for it certainly does not enhance their standing with those they have left behind.


Sand2008-12-21 19:16:01
Paparella, you were the one indicating indicating a person's output could be either considered treasure or garbage and when I indicated agreement you immediately took affront indicating you judged your work garbage. Was I supposed to disagree with you?


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-21 19:22:26
To the perceptive unbiased reader who may be wondering about the statement on garbage to one, treasure to another, consider this: as a freshman at Harvard College, physicist David Balamuth read C.P. Snow's famous Rede lecture, The Two Cultures, and was intrigued. . . . After reading about these concerns, the Harvard freshman class went to hear a distinguished poet and an equally distinguished biologist discuss them. Balamuth listened carefully and came away with the "dead sure certainty that C.P. Snow had it right." The poet and the scientist had spent the entire evening talking past each other. "I don't think either one heard a word the other said." The situation has improved somewhat since fifty years with the introduction of inter-disciplinary studies and an holistic approach to knowledge, but frankly, not that much. Things might have to get worse before they get better and recover the immense cultural patrimony we have lost.


Sand2008-12-21 19:51:26
Since Mr.Balamuth obviously chose to be a scientist rather than a poet it seems he somehow, nevertheless, reached a definitive decision.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-21 20:35:31
The modern philistine who misguidedly thinks of himself as “enlightened” and looks down his nose to anybody who disagrees with his mind-set, first peddles the dichotomy science/poetry, then the priority of science over and above the humanities, and then proceeds to declare all that has come before modernity and post-modernity anachronistic and passé, fit of a metaphorical, if not a physical, bonfire. The physical one took place only seventy years ago, never mind the barbarians of old. What is astonishing is that in Renaissance Italy a Da Vinci conceived no such dichotomy and therefore could be both a great scientist and a great painter and even a poet. The modern philistine thinks he has made progress in the last 500 years, in fact he conceives of progress as inevitable and determined. Some progress. Go and talk about progress to the 11 million innocent people who were incinerated in the Nazi lagers, those who were proud of their rationalism and their degrees, began with the burning of books and ended up burning people.


Sand2008-12-21 22:28:24
Right. Here we go back to the Holocaust and book burning when Paparella runs out of ideas to stick to the subject. Nothing like having standard hobby.


Sand2008-12-21 22:48:07
What you are claiming, Paparella, is that Leonardo was nothing extraordinary, merely a standard product of his time. A hard look at the era would produce loads of equivalent geniuses who were expert painters, scientists, poets etc. By some strange quirk of chance we never have heard of these multitudes of equal geniuses. Whereas today there are no scientists who paint or write poetry or even science fiction. Robert Forward or Fred Hoyle are disqualified because they don't paint pictures or dance naked in ballet.

This isn't even acceptable nonsense and Groucho Marx would be ashamed of you.


AP2008-12-22 00:22:17
Personally, I think that the old times were the real times, and the great ones, the unbeatable. Those were the days. One should not only bow/make a curtsy but, I would say, give up of the future, burn all those freaky progress ideas once and for all.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-22 00:36:25
Unfortunately, as it has been more than confirmed in the 20th century so proud of its technological prowess, not everything that arrives at the end is progress and the best, sometimes it is the worst and it is regress and one would have to be blind or a cultural philistine to deny it.


Sand2008-12-22 00:48:21
Well, Paparella, it's obvious that you are a prime example of that.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-22 00:54:16
There is one way to find out if a man is honest; ask him! If he says yes you know he's crooked.
--Groucho Marx


AP2008-12-22 03:50:25
... And as the present is not an utopian perfection of some kind, it would be nice to move backwards, to the times when progression was REALLY happening (though they ultimately resulted in times of regression...).

Every second of our lives, we make the future happen. That's quite a responsibility, but it is fascinating. You should know about the past, but if you just think in past terms, then the result is similar to Cattelan's donkey heaved up in the air by the weight of his cart.


Sand2008-12-22 06:55:42
Well, Art is Art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now you tell me what you know.
Groucho Marx


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-22 08:16:34
Years ago, I tried to top everybody, but I don't anymore. I realized it was killing conversation. When you're always trying for a topper you aren't really listening. It ruins communication.
--Groucho Marx


Sand2008-12-22 08:38:04
If only there was a true attempt at conversation instead of my attempt to penetrate a mind so petrified by dogma and unable to look unabashedly at reality that I must continually attempt to correct its frightful blind distortions. How sad.


Emanuel Paparella2008-12-22 08:54:36
You need Hercule's shield by which to know where the Medusa is. On the other hand don't get yourself a shield; as a narcisist you might yeld at the temptation to see your own face in it and die of fright and remain petrified for eternity...


Sand2008-12-22 09:11:19
Oui, Monsieur, I am familiar wiz ze leetle gray cells. But I have no shield. Merely zee mustache. Too sad. You seem to have no leetle gray cells.

Hercule


Jack2008-12-22 17:45:01
I don't know if the liberal mass media should not be in the gardening business... since they are digging for dirt and fertilizing with manure; in the hopes that something will grow out of it. In this position of both digging and fertilizing, they know not that their own knees are actually soiled from working in it. No better than the fertilizer or dirt that they themselves try to throw on others. No one throws manure without soiling one's own hands.

But I guess it gets ratings...and that is all that they really care about.


Sand2008-12-22 18:18:22
I see no clean hands in either the liberal or the reactionary(currently going under the name "conservative") media. Newspapers are in a bad way these days and fighting for their lives, no holds barred.


Jack2008-12-22 21:46:30
Sand, you have scored a bulls-eye I believe. Even the conservative press could be called so for it conserves the news only from the left and uses that from the right! And with publishers going under nationwide (and worldwide?), it would seem that it will only get worse. Who says that opposites attract?


Sand2008-12-23 06:03:24
It's an unfortunate fundamental characteristic of competitive public media that they will go to extremes to gain an audience and analysis in depth which used to be part of the exercise of responsible media in the days of Edward R. Murrow and his associates has been washed away by the bean counters that now seem to control the bulk of our civilization. The Madoff scandal and its criminal operations seems to be characteristic of our financial, political and industrial sectors and it signals something vitally wrong with our entire social structure. The Obama appointments to his cabinet of many of the original political players who caused the mess indicates hard times ahead.


Sand2008-12-23 06:14:24
One further comment, Jack. From our previous contacts it seems our views differ radically as to the nature of the universe and how to go about working out some desperately needed solutions to bring sanity and good will so that people can work together to pull civilization back from the brink of destruction. I'm glad to discover it's possible to have an honest conversation about fundamental matters without descending into sleazy unjustified accusations that have no relationship to the matters under discussion. I appreciate your comments and understanding. Like everybody else I am subject to misconceptions but they must be dismissed with deeper understanding and newer valid insights, not insults and dishonest distortions.


N. L. Wilbur2008-12-23 23:17:42
Yes. There's not even a Nazi or Catholic reference here. Things are looking up.


tom2009-02-04 02:52:09
Bla Bla Bla I hope the lunch tickets you write at your new job are more concise.I also hope that you have improved at "vetting" your political heros.


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