This is an essay by Jon Robin Baitz on why he "liked" the much-maligned Move-on.org ad about General Petraeus....but it's much, much more than that.........here's what I mean.
I rather liked the MoveOn ad from the Times. It was crass, but these are crass times. It was simplistic, but these are simplistic problems, basic ones -- after all -- the American people have been treated as foolish consumers of a product -- in this case a war -- by an administration that hovers in a bipolar helix between hapless fervor and rank cynicism.
Now let's face it. We're in Iraq for the next decade. We are in Iraq for the next decade. At least. No way out. This is how America crumbles; at the hands of the most misguided ideologues since the Crusades. Men who led America to catastrophe, who betrayed all the promise we had left -- and for what? The naive and arrogant expectation that a grateful culture would be democratized magically, instantly, and with no ambivalence.
In the Atlantic Monthly, one of the ex-speech writers for the administration turns on one of his own with the ferocity of a cartoon pirate turning on another pirate after the treasure is all gone. This is how it goes down, folks. They're not conservatives. They're not even Republicans. They are de-regulating cynics who pray that capitalism works like the glorious God-Powered Rube Goldberg machine it is. Just add self-reliance and a few days in Aspen. This crowd? They make one long for the intellectual rigor of a Nixon, and they don't deserve to even speak the name Goldwater. I liked the MoveOn ad, because it was probably true, in the Freudian sense, even if it is a little shrill.
I don'know much about Baitz, except from his biography which you can find here. Initially, at least, I had some trouble with his sentence and paragraph structure and even his punctuation, but now, seeing his credentials, I understand the style is avant-garde and I am the one who is out of touch. All that is beside-the-point anyway. The writing is dead-on and captures, I think, a lot of the absurdities of "the new normal" as my favorite (and now "ex") anchorman Aaron Brown termed the phrase after September 11,2001.
One final phrase caught my eye...and resonated....loudly with me as I am sure it will with many of you.
I want to paraphrase Auden and silence the clocks and the noise and pray in the silence to a a god I don't trust or even know how to believe in -- for a way to help my country -- and everyone in it -- find a way through the dark toxic cloud that was conjured up six years ago at the tip of Manhattan.
Don't we all?