Saturday, January 01, 2005

Musing on America 2005

Jan. 1, 2005

The President announced today that American flags should be lowered to half-staff. I'm glad we have a decisive leader. One whose staff seems to be following the daily news and then scrambling to play catch-up. Sort of. Throughout Europe, New Year's eve celebrations were cancelled or curtailed. The world is hurting. My guess is that by the time all the news filters in, something approaching a quarter million people will have died in the tsunami that struck Indonesia and Sri Lanka and India and Somalia and Thailand. That great leveler that also left shattered families in Sweden and Italy, Denmark and Norway, Germany and Belgium. And yes, even a few in the US of A. So W. has been playing catch-up. First he promised $15 million. (Hey, it's half of what the inauguration will cost, not chicken feed considering W. and the boys from Texas believe in the power of big parties.) When the world squawked, W. stuck to his guns. Talking to the press in Crawford, he raised the ante to $35 million. Yesterday that number jumped tenfold to $350 million. W. is getting it. Slowly, mind you. But the man is compassionate. He will confirm that. And he will tell you that America is the most generous nation on Earth. ("We create our own reality," one GOP operative told The New York Times magazine sometime before the election. And for now, anyway, America is buying it.) Maybe, too, someone has let W. know that Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world. Aren't those the guys we want to win over to our side?

Please excuse my cynicism. Today is Jan. 1, the start of a New Year and, soon, a new administration, merely a more Neocon model of the old, will take over. Last night at Boston's First Night, I saw some Democrats running around with a sandwich board demanding a recount in Ohio. But beyond the quixotic, this election is long over. Which means that 2005 will be the year that America ....... Um. Beats me. My Tarot card reader has moved Arizona. But this blog will comment on the year as it evolves, nonetheless. It'll range from thoughts on the guy on my street who wouldn't share his snowblower with an aging neighbor shoveling his walk to thoughts on the politicians and media circus leading and commenting on leadership in Washington. As a perennial hypochondriac, I may occasionally throw in thoughts about corns or the endless battle of the aging against nose hair, so please forgive me in advance.

It seems a good year to get back to writing regularly (if only for myself). Call it the year of the 5s. I'm 55 myself, a Long Island boy who has wandered through at least 45 states, although I confess my image of some doesn't go too far beyond pumping gas. I've worked as a bell hop and desk clerk in the Rockies, lived a few years in Colorado, taught in small town central New York. To be honest, however, I'm one of those left and right coast guys -- seven years as an editor in California, 11 in and near New York City as a reporter and then professor, another seven in Boston, where I now teach journalism at Emerson College. If that doesn't add up to 55, well, just call me a slow starter. Back to the five thing. It is the fifth year of the 21st century, the 25th anniversary of my father's death and the fifth of my mother's. Which all means exactly nothing other than that everyone likes to scratch a message in the sand sometimes.

This blog will be my scratching. Just as I struggle to lose weight again by exercising my decaying muscles at the gym, I'm going to try to exercise my mental writing muscles here. So if you stumble in, drop by from time to time. Send me a post. And let me know what you think.


Blogger Steve Hackbarth said...

This is a familiar script: Bush acts absurdly, every op-ed page in the country chastises him, so he, mostly out of embarrassment, changes his stripes. And then he spins it as positively as possible.

This is practicable American democracy. It's not ideal, but I don't expect it to be ideal. I don't expect all the players involved to act with what motivation Steve Hackbarth thinks is ideal. If I had my way, everyone would be falling over themselves to help the South Asians. Everyone would also be biking to work and playing ultimate frisbee.

People disappoint me: they embrace the bottom line, they try to sell their newspapers, they cover their asses, they play flag football.

Miraculously, the system still works, and we manage to limp along in a manner that isn't fully satisfying to anyone. This is just as well: full satisfaction strikes me as a terrifying concept, considering the outrageous ends that most of my friends, on both sides of the aisle, routinely demand for their satisfaction.

January 2, 2005 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Jerry Lanson said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Steve. One of the beauties of this new technology is that someone other than the credentialed press can comment on the shuffle that too often passes for governance and coverage.


January 3, 2005 at 1:08 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home