When we talk politics at home, in a bar, or at a party—that is, wherever there are no bulbs flashing or cameras rolling—there’s at least a good chance we’ll speculate, “Will the Democrats/Republicans raise/lower taxes and the Congress vote in/out a jobs program?” But it’s disturbing that more and more the media in their coverage, and the casual commentary of citizens when mikes are thrust before them, tend to sound like the appreciative judgment of a courtier: “The prez doth cut a goodly figure today…”
It’s disturbing because there is more involved here than “merely” a vulgarization of the political process by electronic “journalism.” More important: this phenomenon joins (1) an essential feature of the American political system and (2) a pervasive mood of politics in this century in (3) a chilling configuration that should not allow one to dismiss as innocent inanity the media’s love of the politics of performance....
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