Dept. of “Duh” (Sunday Times edition)

This week, the Grey Lady treats us to the obvious in both its news and vapid op-ed pages. The New York Times is certainly not alone in this department (and I don’t mean that by picking on it, I am suggesting it is unique in its inanity) but it is my hometown paper and all, and supposedly a bastion of liberalness and certainly a bastion of arrogance,,, and well,,, you know!
We’ll start with a subject near and dear to my heart, at least my professional one I suppose, and talk about “the law.” We get this Adam Liptak piece on the Supreme Court telling us… wait for it… the Roberts Court is the most conservative in decades, In one sense, the United States Supreme Court is at least performing in the manner it was intended to function. It was arguably designed a a “check” on everyone else in government based on the fact that the sentiments of its members were formed years or decades earlier.. certainly, it’s worked this way historically, whether we got such gifts as the Dred Scott case, or decisions voiding much of the New Deal. The mid and late 20th century socially “activist” courts, like American non-upper class prosperity, were something of a historical one-off anomoly, and now we must face both of those unique historical trends “reverting to the norm” of the long-arc of American history (most people lived miserably, and the patrician Supreme Court helped make sure that particular brute fact didn’t change.) From a political standpoint, of course, the individual members, most notably the Court’s first cyborg Chief Justice John Roberts, replacing his one-time boss William Rehnquist, and smarmy little cuss uber-conservative-true-believer Scam Alito, himself intended to “Souter-proof” the Court from a possible stealth-nominee in the form of Harriet Miers (who let’s face it, didn’t go to Harvard or Yale Law School (or even any Ivy League school at all… and therefore simply wasn’t “qualified” to sit on the Supreme Court), have largely also performed as intended. So… what a shock! A Court whose members were largely appointed by our most conservative Presidents of both parties in decades… is our most conservative. Wow… I’m almost speechless,,,
And Frank Rich shows us in this piece, why for an op-ed writer, he’s a hell of a theater critic. He discusses a scene in the upcoming Mad Men season premier, in which the “long hot summers” of the 1960’s were discussed, and Mr. Rich suggests that the turbulent 1960’s might be portentous of… something. LIke a good theater critic, Mr. Rich certainly notices the details of the scenery and the apparent plot points, such as the “Tea Party” movement’s fairly obvious racism (the fact that it’s a subsidiary of the dependent-on-the-Deep-South’s- aging- White-people-Republican-Party should be the giveaway on that) or the recent Shirley Sherrod debacle, but alas, he misses the all-important… wait for it… subtext. That being… this ain’t the 60’s. “The Man” (at least the man in the White House) was born of a Kenyan father, and is still extremely popular among African Americans. While bourgeois liberal Whites (such as m’self) regard (my college classmate) Barack Obama as little more than another corporate sell-out in a long line of corporate sell-outs, others have a different opinion– notably, the putative rioters envisioned by Mr. Rich (White and Black alike, btw). And, of course, the overlay of our current era is not a mountain of pent-up opportunity as the greatest economic engine in the world was being revved up, including a lean and quite mean underclass demanding their share, but the after-effects of having revved that engine way too hard and way too long.. with an underclass no longer lean and mean, but morbidly obese and appropriately docile as a result of the most effective pharmaceutical project in the history of the world. Anyway, I’ll at least give Frank Rich credit for at least correctly observing the pieces on the board, if not.,, anything else.
Which takes us to the pinnacle of “Duh,” Maureen Duh Dowd, who takes us on this week’s hilarious romp as to “what’s wrong” in the Obama White House, to wit, wait for it… not enough Black people. Ms. Dowd, like Mr. Rich, looks at the Sherrod debacle quite superficially, and concludes that actual Black people in the White House (besides the President and his family and perhaps Valerie Jarrett) might help the President deal with “racial issues” better. I guess I have to go back to “reality 101” for Ms. Dowd: the President is only “half Black”. He could get elected President, rather than his far more intelligent and professionally accomplished wife, who suffers (irremediably in this country) from being (1) female, (2) entirely African American and (3) not raised in such a manner that she got to attend entirely private schools… unlike the President. What he is 100%, however, is “corporate whore.” Unlike me, who foolishly went right into law school out of Columbia College in 1983, the President spent a year or two working in “corporate intelligence” at something called the “Business International Corporation” (later acquired by The Economist, IIRC) and then a few years as a “community organizer,” before getting himself into Harvard Law School, and the presidency of its vaunted Law Review. Further, unlike me, who foolishly went to work after law school (first for the U.S. Dept, of Justice, and later, private law firms)… Barack got a lucrative book deal, a no-show “job” at the U. of Chicago’s law school not teaching Constitutional law, cultivated friends in the financial and insurance sectors, and managed to pretty much avoid real jobs (and no, senator, whether state or federal is not a real job) until he found himself President of the United States… a rather difficult “first real job…” but hey, he’s the second President in a row we’ve found in that position. Anyway, my point is that Ms. Dowd has completely missed what is going on here: our corporate President is running the White House like an American corporation: certain “controversies” are on a hair-trigger. Any hint of “racial controversy”… will not do. (This was fully beta-tested with last year’s “beer summit” fiasco; it did not sell,) And so, only when it became overwhelmingly clear that Ms. Sherrod was an innocent victim of uber-political-dirty-trickster Andrew Breitbart (who, with his periodic story plants, has once again taken full advantage of a “professional” media utterly incapable of “gathering news” on its own), and that in fact Ms. Sherrod was doing exactly the opposite of that for which she was accused, only then did the corporate machine switch into full reverse, and try to undo political damage that overshadowed what should have been “a good week” what with “financial reform,” the BP oil spill finally off the front-pages and the apparent death of meaningful climate or energy legislation. But the fault, my dear Maureen, lies not in our lack of key African American advisory personnel, but in our entire corporate mind-set: the actual first African American President doesn’t concern himself with the cadence of non-patrician Black people because they don’t pay for 30-second spots, $100,000 speeches, $1,000,000 book deals, or $10,000,000 hedge fund advisories, now do they? ,
This has been “Dept. of ‘Duh’ (Sunday Times edition).