The Guilfoile-Warner Papers

Oct 22

Speaking of irony, did you know that Johnny Ramone was a republican? Also, while still speaking of irony, did you know that people who love the "real America" spend better than 150K in a month at places like Saks Fifth Avenue and Nieman Marcus, all on the taxpayers' dimes? (In a real-world application of trickle-down economics, the McCain/Palin campaign now says they always planned to donate the clothes to charity after the convention.) Now that Governor Palin has outed herself as a lover of the finer things in life, let me suggest she peruse a new ultra-luxury catalog from Serfitt & Cloye. While we're on the subject of irony, the list of conservative celebrities cited above also includes Shannen Doherty, the irony being that she's still considered a celebrity. At least, unlike Johnny Ramone and Charlton Heston (also listed), she's still alive. I think. Bah-dum-bah! That last gag was more like the cynicism you speak of, irony codified into snark. Irony, effectively employed, has the ability to illuminate the hidden truth, but snark dismisses the idea of truth as something kind of silly, impossible to figure out, and therefore not worth knowing. Since the idea that there is no such thing as truth gets pretty scary right down to our existential cores, we fall back on a joke that codifies the previously shared impression, an impression as shallow as Sarah Palin's intellect. Rim shot! Like you said, you and I can't help ourselves, it's like being trapped in an eternal Leno monologue. Bush=dumb. Obama=airy fairy, McCain=old, Biden=windbag with hair plugs. Palin=sexy moose hunter. Since we can't figure out anything beyond the surface truth, let's just settle on something simple and easy to understand and drive that fucker into the ground. Here I was going to launch into a long-winded discourse about how this attitude has taken over our news media with Borg-like efficiency and thoroughness, but because I'm too cynical to give an earnest argument, let me just point out that when actual journalism breaks out, like the Katie Couric interviews, or Campbell Brown challenging republican talking points, it becomes news in and of itself, the mighty fourth estate stirring from its slumber. MSNBC has decided the way out of the woods is Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow, which is nothing if not a full embrace of cynicism. I like watching those shows as much as the next liberal, but it's for the same reason I used to fire up the Mike Ditka Show before every Bears game. That's my team, those are my players, and I want a period of time to feel good about things. Don't get me wrong, I agree with what Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow have to say. In fact, I don't just agree with them, but I think they're right, that they're identifying and explaining truths, but let's not kid ourselves, the ultimate effect of discussing the news in this way is simply the inverse of Fox News. I'm glad to have my own team at last, but I don't see us winning any new fans. When you and I have talked about irony in the past we've also wondered if there isn't a new irony, a kind of super irony where irony is the new sincerity, or more accurately, the old irony. It's become an awful cliche to praise The Daily Show for their ability to illuminate certain truths about our political process, but one of their recent field reports from Wasilla, Alaska does more in just under five minutes to shed light on Palin's background than a week's worth of Wolf Blitzer's greatest political team on television. Like you, I've always been a little embarrassed about my support for Obama, not because I don't support his policies and message, but because of the intensity and emotion I bring to that support. It's actually uncomfortable to hope like this. I remember feeling the first stirrings of it when viewing Obama's address at the 2004 Democratic Convention, and then quickly dismissing it figuring even this charismatic young guy would get chewed up by the process. But it's easy to see how corrosive that attitude is. Maureen Dowd, the high priestess of snark, still refers to him as "Obambi" in her column, something that demonstrates neither wit nor insight, but carries the Pulitzer seal of approval. Professional douchebag Tucker Carlson (that's not snark, but truth) said yesterday, " . . . do you believe the Obama campaign could still somehow, in the final moments, find a way to blow it and lose this election? If you answered yes, you're a Democrat." Carlson may be a tool, but he isn't wrong. Last night while we were in bed, I told my wife that I was 95% sure Obama was going to win. She made me leap up, and spin around three times while crossing my heart and knocking on wood in response. I really believe that we're on the cusp of a really amazing event in American history. I'd even admit it publicly if I didn't think it'd make me look like a sentimental wussy.

TMN contributing writer John Warner’s first novel, The Funny Man was recently published by Soho Press. He teaches at the College of Charleston and is co-color commentator for The Morning News Tournament of Books. More by John Warner

blog comments powered by Disqus