Two Good Reads at TWS

Filed under:Not Cool,Politics,Priorities,Sad — posted by Anwyn on January 27, 2008 @ 7:15 pm

If you want to know how Jena’s nooses and its six-on-one beating came to be related in the public mind even though they weren’t, how it’s plausible that the nooses were never intended as a racial statement at all, how the ringleader of the six is a repeat thug, and who put together the “greater narrative” that the media and the race-baiters swallowed hook, line, and sinker, here it all is in cool, collected detail. (H/t Sarah.)

And if you need comforting over Thompson’s withdrawal from the race: rest glumly assured that it’s because he was every bit as normal as we thought him and not a pandering, lying ignoramus. My favorite passage:

It’s telling that his most notable moments were negative–marked by his refusal to follow some custom of the modern campaign. (From another debate: “Should government step in and help Chrysler and the other auto makers?” Thompson: “No.”) Asked about education reform, he said: “It would be easy enough for someone running for president to say: I have a several-point plan to fix our education problem. It’s not going to happen. And it shouldn’t happen from the Oval Office.” When journalists and candidates, with their typically childlike enthusiasm, suddenly began gumming the word “change” after the Iowa caucuses, Thompson pointed out the obvious: “Change has been part of every election since the dawn of elections, if you weren’t an incumbent.” He noted how easy it was “to demagogue” the issue of federal spending by dwelling on relatively insignificant earmarks: “All these programs that we talk about in the news every day are a thimbleful in the ocean compared to the entitlement tsunami that’s coming to hit us.”

Views like these might have earned another candidate a reputation for “straight talk”–maybe even the title of “maverick.” But Thompson was more subversive than that; he was an existential maverick, and his campaign was an implicit rebuke to the system in its entirety. He was a man out of his time. With its reduced metabolism and procedural modesty, his campaign still might have served as an illustration of what politics once was like and–if we have the audacity to hope–might be again. After all, by the standards of a century ago, Thompson was a whirligig.

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