Sunday, December 09, 2012

One Tiresome Story


There is plenty happening these days around the world.  Just in the Middle East, which is a particular obsession of mine, you can find enough legitimately fascinating stories involving the Syrians, Egyptians, Israelis and Palestinians to fill up cable news shows for weeks.  But we all know that Americans tend to be a tad insular, and our cable news coverage reflects that – in fact, it helps to cement it.  So, instead of focusing in depth on some riveting overseas developments,  the mavens of cable news are giving us the big domestic news story night after night after night ….   That’s right, boys and girls: it’s all “fiscal cliff” talk, all the time.

Is it just me, or is this story about as interesting as watching paint dry?   

It’s not that I don’t care if we go off the friggen “cliff.”  It would be great, in my opinion, if the folks at Congress put together a serious package that would address our growing national debt issue.   I would love to see the wealthy taxed at a more equitable rate (meaning MORE, not less), the elimination of numerous tax deductions, cuts to the bloated defense budget, and a serious attempt to control Medicare costs and other types of profligate non-defense spending.  But that still doesn’t mean I want to sit around, night after night, listening to the talking heads interview Senators and Congresspeople about jumping off the cliff.  I’d rather watch them interview Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis about what it was like to film the cliff scene in Thelma and Louise.  

First of all, watching any story about our national Congress is like reading an action book where there is no action and no heroes.  I’m not criticizing all 535 members, some of whom are excellent public servants, but when you look at this institution as a whole, how can anyone possibly take it seriously these days?  One day they are authorizing us to invade a country without any legitimate justification.  The next day they are back to their favorite pastime of stuffing themselves on pork.  Then, they are threatening to destroy the country’s credit rating.  And all the while, the Republicans and Democrats on the Hill act like they are allergic to each other.  

Do you really want to watch a show in which these guys are the stars?

Secondly, the fiscal cliff issue involves a December 31st deadline.  Maybe.  You know and I know that they can easily buy some more time by putting off that deadline.  So why has this story been the obsession du jour almost as soon as the early-November election ended?  Can’t we just tell them “Sorry, talk to the hand, not to the face.  If you want air time, show up on December 28th and let us know if you need more time or are ready to say something.  In the meantime, we’ll be interviewing Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis.”

Thirdly, even when the Congress is finally ready to reach an agreement, does anyone seriously think that it will be one we can be proud of?  Neither party has distinguished itself for political courage, and it will surely take some guts to stand up to the special interests who have been dominating our tax system and much of our domestic spending.  So why we should be invigorated by a story in which the ultimate ending is going to be such a letdown?

There you have it.  The media is trying to interest us in a nightly drama to take the place of the election coverage.  But whereas a Presidential election can truly be a captivating story, this “cliff” mishegas is tiresome as hell.  It involves a bunch of people who haven’t impressed us in a LONG time, bloviating about a decision that they have to make well into the future, and ultimately letting us down.

Wake me up when we jump, OK?

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