GRUMPY OLD MEN KNOW BEST
This morning I awakened in my grumpy old man mood; consequently decided to do what we grumpy old men do best which is to criticize everything. We rarely offer any solutions to the world’s problems, other than to suggest we go back to the way things were in the “good old days.”
There are a few bright spots in my dark grumpy old man mood, not the least of which is that I did awaken this morning. In addition to that, my two grandsons who are about to graduate from college, will do so after receiving several honors which are more than sufficient to make even a grumpy old man pop his shirt buttons with pride for his progeny.
In spite of those bright spots, there is no dearth of issues for any grumpy old man to criticize, and that may also apply to those who are neither old nor grumpy. The first and most obvious thing which comes to mind is this election campaign which shows no sign of ending. If history is prologue we can expect it to start all over again as soon as this one is over.
You may recall from a previous blog that I am a co-dependent spouse of a CNN addict. As such I am accustomed to a continuous barrage of “breaking news” so named even if it is weeks old. After years of listening, I had become sufficiently desensitized to be largely able to ignore that noise that emanated from our kitchen TV. Now after months of listening to all that election campaign claptrap, I am ready to trade in my hearing aids for ear plugs.
There has been an endless parade of political experts who are standing in line to grace us with their expert opinions and prophecies. These are the same experts who assured us that Donald Trump was merely an oddity who would not survive for longer than a few weeks. Among them are journalists, campaign workers, officials of all stripes from the major parties, academics, politicians, and members of various “think tanks.” That last category has always fascinated me, and I have wondered what members of think tanks do other than think. To me, it always conjures up images of a bunch of naked people sitting around with their chin in their hands like a group of incarnate Rodin statues.There also appear to be a plethora of folks who are introduced as republican or democratic strategists. There must be a lot of “strategizing” going on, since there seems to be a bunch of them, which furthers my contention that politics is big business.
Regardless of the title given the participants in these interviews, the preferred format appears to be the use of the split screen with those of opposing loyalties each occupying their half of the screen. The content soon goes from each talking about what a wonderful person his/her candidate is to how terrible the opponent is. It seems to me the moderator is more interested in the interaction between the participants than policy matters. When they talk of the wondrous things their candidate will do, there appears to be no follow-up questions as to how those wondrous things will be accomplished.
Journalists and pseudo-journalists long ago learned that reporting of conflict gets people’s attention. The TV networks have sponsored many (too many for my taste) so called debates encouraging and reporting on the conflicts between participants while the issues get short shrift. It appears that the TV celebs (sorry but I find it hard to call them journalists) would like nothing better than one of those debates to degenerate into a massive food fight so that they might have some “breaking news” to report.
Enter Mr. Donald Trump the unrepentant narcissist and showman who had spent a lifetime seeking attention. It turned out that those years of practice served him well, for he has certainly received attention from the media, so much so that he has not found it necessary to spend any money on advertising. In addition to personally insulting and denigrating everyone who did not pay homage, he was able to be totally outrageous in the process. His overly simplistic statements about domestic and foreign policies were hailed as proof that he was an outsider and not a double talking politician. He pointed out that his talents as a business man could be useful in solving the country’s economic woes. He portrayed himself as a Manhattan version of Horatio Alger, and true enough we know that he started his career with a paltry one million dollars given to him by his father, later inherited a few million more and parlayed that into over a billion while filing only four bankruptcies in the process. He also inherited a few more million along the way, but insists that he is a self-made man.
Well, enough about the prince of the rednecks. I started out with the goal of bitching about the news media. Their coverage of the campaign has alerted me to the magnitude of the business side of politics. As I mentioned previously, there appears to be an endless supply of people selling their opinions. I assume that all of these people are employed somewhere since they all well dressed, and do not appear to be poverty stricken. There certainly are hundreds and maybe even thousands of such people employed in the politics industry. If we were to add all those salaries and book sales to the one billion dollars estimated to be spent by the candidates in this campaign, you might say we are talking real money. It might even be enough to fix some pot-holes, and if any were left we could waste it by feeding some of those kids who go to bed hungry each night.
In the midst of writing this rant, I just took a coffee break, and on my way to the kitchen was fortunate enough to see CNN was announcing more “breaking news”. The big news of the day is that North Carolina is suing the Feds over the bill about who can go to which bathroom. Undoubtedly, this is the most pressing issue of our time. No matter their faults one must give a lot of credit to CNN for securing this scoop. While some people are worried about such trivia as planetary destruction leading to the extinction of the human race, or our apparent penchant for warfare, these guys maintain a laser like focus on the really important news.
As I sipped my coffee, I was surprised to see Carl Bernstein (the reporter of Watergate fame) for whom I have a great deal of respect, appear to for an interview. He appears to me to be the type of journalist who seems more interested in the news than in his own celebrity. I was a little disappointed when I found that his primary reason for being there was to sell his latest book, but my mood improved dramatically when he began to talk about the news media in general. It soon became apparent that he was a grumpy old man also, and a kindred spirit when he complained that both broadcast and print media were very superficial in their coverage of the election campaign.
It seems that the combination of Carl and the coffee have conspired to make me much less grumpy, so now I think I will go watch some TV news and see if I can learn more about the Donald’s hairdo.