Jay Carney condescendingly told us yesterday that now is not the time to talk about politics. It’s a predictable response from rulers who lack the will or imagination to solve genuine problems. It’s what a parent tells a child who is asking uncomfortable questions about sex. “Now is not the time, Johnny, I’m busy.”
And it works, because in the aftermath of a tragedy no one wants to appear rude. Etiquette demands that we join together and grieve. Don’t bring up dirty politics now. The implication is that there will be time later on for the grown-ups to get together and tackle these tough issues. But this presents a twofold problem. First, there aren’t any grown-ups running the show, or at least there are too few of them to make a difference. Are John Boehner, Mitch McConnell or Chuck Schumer capable of comprehending the nature of this problem, even in the dimmest, foggiest, most primitive sub-verbal way? Louis Gohmert, perhaps? The captain’s cabin is empty, my friends.
Secondly, there won’t be any time later on to address this issue. The dead will barely be in the ground when another shooting will happen. Then we’ll all be told, yet again, that now is not the time for politics. It’s the same thing officialdom says whenever they’re confronted with a problem they want to avoid. Disaster in Iraq? Now is not the time to point fingers or place blame. Politics stop at the water’s edge. Wall Street bankers destroy the economy? Now is not the time to point fingers or place blame. We can’t play politics with the economy. Another shooter kills a multitude of people? Now is not the time …
Guess what? It’s never the time in America.
Nobody knows how to stop this bullshit from happening. The problem is that our political leadership won’t even seriously try. The same stale clichés will we batted back-and-forth in the same stale venues with the same stale non-results. Their prayers will go out to the victims. Our prayers will go out to the victims. How can such a thing happen, we’ll all ask. We’ll praise the heroic first responders, and we’ll marvel at the weirdos who commit such acts, which will be alternately described as heinous or evil.
All the while, a very subtle message will be getting piped into our brains. It’s the same message that is sent to us about every problem we face, whether it is Wall Street fraud, rampant military adventurism, or cops blasting pepper spray in people’s faces, and that message is this: Nothing can be done. Sit down, be quiet, and get used to it. Political happy talk about Yes We Can and American exceptionalism notwithstanding, we are in fact being conditioned to be completely passive, and the only concrete response to the problem of mass shootings will be stepping up police presence and granting law enforcement more freedom to use force against us.
Then, one day, the country will go off and bomb Iran, and we’ll all feel good about being Americans again.