Monday, July 4, 2011

I’m Not Excited

Oh goody, another celebrity pol is wriggling out of the intestines of the Tea Party movement:

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Nikki Haley, at 39 the nation’s youngest governor, loves her iPod.

When she signed a long-fought bill to bring more transparency to legislative voting, the Black Eyed Peas blasted through the Capitol rotunda here.

Joan Jett, a personal hero because of her fight to prove that women can rock, provided inspiration when it seemed impossible that a relatively inexperienced, deeply conservative woman with Indian immigrant roots could win a bid to govern the state where the Civil War began.

But Ms. Haley’s most enduring theme song, as it was when she campaigned on Tea Party politics and a nod from Sarah Palin, might be Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”

I don’t know much about this person’s politics. I don’t have to or want to, because at the end of the day her politics are merely incidental — a means of achieving stardom. So she adopts a few Tea Party sound bites about tax cuts and limited government, and proceeds to focus on what really matters:
Of the nation’s 29 freshman governors, her national profile is among the highest, an advantage she hopes to enhance with a memoir — “Can’t Is Not an Option” — scheduled for release by the Penguin Group in January. Telegenic and direct, she is popular with producers of national news shows. Her digital-savvy young staff issues YouTube-ready videos that show everything from her cabinet meetings to the crowning of collard greens as the official state vegetable.
Her slogan is “Get excited,” but I’m not. I’m bored and disconsolate. Yet another right-wing dilettante is busting on to the scene, just in time to fill the void created by the fading Sarah Palin. Are we really supposed to be impressed because she has tech-savvy marketers producing YouTube videos about her? Am I supposed to be overawed by the emergence of one more voracious publicity hound with an instinct for effective propaganda? Sorry, it just sounds dull and dangerous to me.

When excess skin cells accumulate on the human body, the result is psoriasis; when they accumulate on the American body politic, the results are … as you see. The real business of government is run by powerful interests behind the scenes, while “telegenic and direct” politicans prance through the legislatures slashing budgets and calling for tax cuts. Meanwhile, an adoring media gushes about the contents of their iPods. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out whose interests are served by this state of affairs.

It’s too easy quote Orwell on these matters, but I will anyway. As usual, he was spot on: “A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial. That is when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud.”

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