Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Today's good political news is that Guiliani dropped his 9/11-fetishizing ass out of the presidential race, so we won't have to worry about America turning into that particular police state. The bad news is that John Edwards also dropped out of the race, if you were even aware that he was running in the first place. The early-stage primary wasn't about finding the best presidential candidate but about who the media could cling to like a barnacle during the few moments they weren't too busy to cover steroids in baseball or Cloverfield or other important news. I'm completely clueless about how the media functions, which stories become big stories, who comes up with that thoroughly uninformative graph on the USA Today, why Natalie Holloway's disappearance is newsworthy but Chioma Gray's disappearance hasn't gotten a single back-page below-the-fold headline. (I'm sure the fact that Holloway was a white, blonde, ex-cheerleader has nothing to do with the media interest.) Edwards, with his "Two Americas" thesis, seemed to be the only candidate with some cognizance of the distinction between the American lifestyle afforded by wealth and the one afforded by ━ not poverty ━ but the lack of wealth and the lack of political power and social autonomy that accompanies it.

The media's election narrative, written way back in 2004, didn't have a guest role for Edwards since he's not black or female, as Senator Obama pointed out in one of the zillion previous debates. The nation, at least in the eyes of the media, either influenced by or influencing the vox populi, is looking for change from the Thirty-Percent President, but we're so vapid that we're satisfied with someone who looks different. Edwards was the only candidate among the thousand or so in the race advocating genuine policy changes. He pushed for universal health care, renewable energy, ending the genocide in Darfur. And when was the last time a politician called for an end to poverty? But what was most important about Edwards' candidacy was that he actually spoke out with untested ideas, rather than re-packaging the stale but comfortable hegemony that's politics' stock in trade. The media, as stagnant and complacent as any other corporate bureaucracy, in neglecting Edwards, was also stifling the unfortunately un-American message that things could be better, for real.

Fortunately, some of the Edwards platform, like the Gore platform, has leeched into the rather banal campaigns of Hillary and Obama. Hillary, I hate, but not in a right-wing conspiracy sort of way. I just hate her for being the Republicans' object of scorn, and because her very existence probably cost Gore those two-hundred Florida votes back in 2000. Also, she cried, and what the hell was up with that? I'm sticking with Obama, even though I don't like his message about rising above partisanship in Washington. "I'm a uniter, not a divider," makes you either one of two things: a liar or a pussy. He's supposed to have beliefs and if he's going to compromise them, I'd like it to be in service of something other than crazy Senator Inhofe's pigheadedness.