Monday, January 26, 2004

Hastily Composed Random Thoughts

* I've been pulling for Dean to rebound some in NH, mainly because I think he's been unfairly beaten up by the media (aka "so-called liberal media") and partially because I'd like to see him stay alive in this campaign. The biggest reason, though, is I'd hate to see his campaign derail on the basis of one speech that's been blown way out of proportion. How many times do we have to see that concession speech (which I found funny the first twelve times I saw it) before the talking heads can figure that THE MAN'S NOT ANGRY! The guy's just excited. Yeah, so he shouldn't have done it, but that doesn't make the guy fucking Gen. Jack D. Ripper.

* Dean = Worthy of respect. Deaniacs = Annoying as fuck. [Added! link to good Saletan article discussing the Deaniac echo chamber.] First, I have some good friends who are bl...Deaniacs. Seriously, most Dean supporters are probably perfectly reasonable. And they're right to be scornful of the media attacks on Dean, which has only added to Dean's "authentic" maverick appeal and their own alienation from the "Establishment." But a bunch of the more nutty variety have taken over political discourse in the middle-left blogosphere, exasperating the non-True Believers. As Eric Alterman notes, anybody who disses their godhead, however legitimately, is villified as a sell-out or "in league with Kerry, or a right-wing stooge. Included among this company are The New Republic, The Post editorial page, the terrific blogger Josh Marshall, etc. The way these guys go on, these wingnuts really deserve no more intellectual respect than "Freepers" on the right. And their unblinking cultish devotion to their Great Leader makes supporting Dean a tough proposition, even if he ends being the anti-Kerry. Hardcore Deaniacs: Case No. 102,883 demonstrating the boomerang effect of militant activism. Too bad, because there's much to admire about Dean, though I'd never support him because I'm an unapologetic pragmatist.

* Clinton astutely observed that Democrats want to fall in love [with their nominee] while the Republicans just fall in line. And it wouldn't work any other way, really, given how differently liberals and conservatives generally approach the world. But perhaps out of desperation (coupled with a disastrously-conceived compacted primary season that does a disservice to primary voters), Democrats are falling in line with the resolutely unlovable John Kerry, who's poised to take NH in a cakewalk. I still think a Clark/Edwards or Edwards/Clark ticket is preferable (electability-wise) to Al Gore redux, but seeing Bush's ever wobbly poll standing, it might be better to field the safest candidate available. John Kerry, the insurance salesman of presidential contenders, is the guy you fall in line with. And at the end of the day, if Kerry survives, why not? As much as it resembles sports, politics is about power, and power comes from winning. It's strange to me that so many are invested in certain candidates as if they're favorite sports teams. Seems to me being a fanboy is exactly the wrong approach to go about following politics and voting. What are your goals and who has the best chance of actualizing some of these goals, shouldn't that be the question?

* Is there a right-wing conspiracy to derail Wes Clark, presumably the candidate Bush fears most? Those ridiculous gotcha questions directed at him (while Kerry got softballs) during last week's debate *sponsored by the Fox News Channel* hints at something strangely nefarious. Clark can seem completely at ease talking domestic policy in certain settings (the town hall, radio call-in shows) while stammering his way through other forums, like last week's debate. It would've been nice if he boned up a little bit and learned to change the question as Edwards had done so smoothly. If he falters, he'd have to blame (1) the decision to not campaign in Iowa; (2) the uninspired debate performance. He's got a famously quick learning curve, but he hasn't found the right *tone* to strike as of yet.

* Admission that eliminates my viability as a bachelor: Yes, I'm a fucking geek. I watch about eight hours of TV a week now, and they're almost all pundit shows ("Hardball" especially), C-Span, or The World Series of Poker re-runs on ESPN. When you think about it, is there anything more pathetic than a poseur pundit?

* PLAYTIME (restored). As I suspected, I hadn't actually seen PLAYTIME. And you haven't actually seen Tati's satire of modern design culture gone amok unless you saw it in glorious 70 mm. A singular fusion of performance art, architecture, and interior design, PLAYTIME's clockwork setpieces and multi-eye-point compositions remain unparalleled in cinema. A knockout.