Running on Empty

How the hell does one possibly move yet another book on the Bush administration? I am thinking here of Robert Draper’s newly released Dead Certain (see the Washington Post write-up, Abramowitz, Michael, “Book Tells Of Dissent In Bush’s Inner Circle,” 3 September 2007, p. A1). What more is there possibly to reveal? That the administration is a dysfunctional cage match between a bunch of 800 pound gorillas, that the President is too immature and clueless to exercise any adult-like responsibility over the mess, that the interagency process has been completely trampled under their turf wars, that this or that decision was taken with almost no consideration, or in complete disregard for all of the consideration that had been shunted aside, that yet another swath of officials turns out to be half-wits placed for fealty to some right-wing mania, that yet another critical governmental function is being run into the ground, that the good of the nation has yet again taken a backseat to partisan gain? Sacrebleu! Say it ain’t so!

I suspect that as the archives are opened up and as the perspective of history comes to fruition, rather than the Bush Presidency being vindicated an entirely new level of tawdriness and tragedy will be revealed. But until that day comes, each new gloss on the subject seems to be subject to the diminishing returns of our depleted capacity for another round of outrage.

The metaphor here is so addled that it is hard to believe this is the guy who invented the internets, but as Al Gore said in a recent interview (Born, Kim, “Man on a Mission: Al Gore,” 02138 Magazine, September / October 2007, p. 84), he is feeling it too:

I have a lot of friends who share the following problem with me: Our sense of outrage is so saturated that when a new outrage occurs, we have to download some existing outrage into an external hard drive in order to make room for a new outrage.

On the one hand, it is incumbent upon the left to keep up a relentless focus on the dysfunction of this administration and its master ideology. This is what framing looks like and the moment that it flags, the right-wing revisionism will start in. But on the other hand, instead of another book or expose article, I just which they would hand out a rod to every American to bite-down on for the next year and a half.

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