Ecstasy on the Mall

[He] delivered his speech, self-consciously Kennedyesque, full of words like sacrifice, challenges, bold, vision, summon, change, determination, resolve, renew, rebuild, revitalize, rededicate, and the trendy reinvent. … Though short, it was longwinded. [He] was careful to be brief. But in this case brevity wasn’t the soul of wit. He was straining for grand effects he didn’t know how to hit off, and he fell back on a vocabulary he deemed inspirational.

That sounds like it was written today, but it’s from a 1993 article by the great writer Joe Sobran on the occasion of Bill Clinton’s inaugural. Rereading it this weekend, and having transitioned from a twenty-something to a forty-something, I think I understand Sobran’s weariness a little better.

When it comes to pop culture phenomenons, the man on the street is often, as Robert Mitchum put it, “like a leaf that the wind blows from one gutter to another.” His interest is temporary because it’s based in “reality TV” amusement, not reflection. It’s about excitements and new things instead of sober thoughts and ancient things. And right now, Michelle and Barack are the new thing. I note in passing that MTV is running its own inaugural special. The theme: “Be the change.” Any questions?

Meanwhile, the mainstream media continues to engage in its reflexive worship of left-wing power. The state to them isn’t a punisher of evildoers, it’s god and church and daddy and mommy. Liberals like to fantasize about an inspired citizenry that joyfully unites behind a progressive leader, but this will never be the case because when you force people to fund stuff they wouldn’t voluntarily pay for, you create resentments and factions. Muggers can’t be leaders. At least they can’t be leaders of those being robbed. I doubt us rubes will ever learn to be cheerful givers when it comes to funding other people’s abortions, their banks, their welfare checks, their unions, or their government jobs. I, for one, don’t want pay for state-funded educations, retirement, or health care either, because none of those functions belong to the state.

Liberals prefer not to be reminded that they achieve their goals by the threat of force (namely, imprisonment), but that’s the fist behind any government action. There’s nothing pleasant about it, no matter how pretty it looks and sounds on TV. It’s just a “boot stamping on a human face– forever,” to use Orwell’s memorable phrase. In other words, it’s a raw exercise of power by the Frankensteins in Washington. Render unto Caesar– or else.

Anyway, read Sobran’s witty article. It’ll do you good and maybe repair some brain cells if you’ve spent any time witnessing the endless fawning on TV this weekend.

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