My theme song, “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” playing in the background, I was just sitting here on deadline feeling obsolete.
They say if you want to make a living as a blowhard these days, you'd best be up and hollering about what's happening right now, right this minute. If you have to wait an hour before piping up, or a day, or a week as I'm obliged to do in this venue, then you're beat in the blocks. When you finally do get your throat cleared, people won't even remember what in tarnation it is that you're talking about. It's like the scores in the morning paper from ball games played two and sometimes three days ago. Half of those players already on other teams.
When I last reported in, for another example, the topic du jour was John McCain's inability to say how many houses he owned. Remember that? It was only last week but there's been such a nervous breakdown in the fourth dimension that it might as well have been last year or as long ago as when the Dead Sea first got sick, as we used to say in the Eighth Grade.
At the time, just last week, the McCain housing plethora seemed a matter pregnant with consequence, or anyhow it seemed prime column fodder, and I got myself sufficiently worked up to treat it, but before I could summon Microsoft Word and spit on my hands, so much bigger hotter fresher other stuff had happened that my keyboard actually fossilized.
Olympic records, a war in Georgia, home run after home run at the political conventions, Yukon Sally takes time from dropping Mongols and gutting caribou to answer grampa's mating call, Katrina with a sex-change taunts ol' Brownie and them. It strengthens, it weakens. Oil prices wax and wane. How could anyone possibly keep up with it all? In fact, no one tried. The entire punditry, the entire electorate, the entire citizenry, the whole shebang, lock, stock and barrel of it, scrambled to archive their inchoate thoughts on the stale topic of McCain's houses and thence to mount anew and ride off in all directions.
I mulled this giant absquatulation, this mother of all skedaddles, with some astonishment. As the nominee domiciles shrank one by one back into the great dark surrounding our small circle of foolish firelight, I knew absolutely that they'd not be recalled and pursuit of this “issue” would never be resumed.. If some Winston Smith someday chanced upon a scrap of it out there in the void, the reference would doubtless be zapped and the foofaraw awarded the tranquilizing status of never having existed. That's just how it's going to be.
Coincidentally, something like that is already happening, if you didn't know, with Nixon. Still in the middle stages, with a lot of redacting left to do. Much footage yet to scissor, troublesome old objects called books to sanitize. Not altogether a bad thing, in my opinion. Those who want their history “warts and all” are bigger fans of warts than I am. I think our national history would be measurably improved if Nixon were exorcised out of it. Say that somebody named Zelig, later lost track of, was Ike's veep and let it go at that. Who wouldn't be relieved? Who wouldn't be made a little prouder of country and race?
And what harm would it do to the history? History isn't a tapestry; it's a kite's-tail of bits and pieces capriciously strung together. You cull some stories, overblow others. You recalibrate and reconfigure, you cut and paste in order to make it prove what you want it to prove. Be a much pleasanter tale Dickless. Like having “Macbeth” without having to have Macbeth.
Then with the Nixon stains removed, we could take the scrapers to the crusted ordure of ol' 138 Days Left and Counting. In fact, posterity might thank us for it — yes, yes it would thank us for it, no doubt about it — if we chopped out this entire sorry first twelfth of Century 21. A clean page following the Clinton prosperity, a discreet intermission before picking up the thread in 2009.
(Yeah, OK, the Clinton chapter could stand a little going over with the artgum, too — for sure the parts featuring Willard Peyronie as the stunt double.)
Just messin' with you, as Mr. Crabbs would say.
Not bitter, either; just a little tired.
A headline in the New York Times some time back said, “Lepers in India Combat Feelings of Uselessness.” This feeling of occupational obsolescence must be similar to those feelings, tempting an old boy into these rather dismal idle fantasies of rewriting history, or rather repairing it, or prettifying it. In there somewhere too is a growing sense of the pointlessness of it all. How vigorously and how long are you expected to quibble with doofi who just hate sense — who think the world is barely older than Thomas Jefferson, for instance, or propose a fuller set of constitutional rights and privileges for zygotes than for the full-grown female persons in whom they chance to lodge?
I think they've won it, the zealots and morons, because they're better at just keeping on keeping on than sane people are The only discourse now is instantaneous, and the loons always arrive at the moment fustest with the mostest. Never flagging, never a flutter of self-doubt. Resistance is futile. The assimilation well along.