Succumbing to Immediacy

News this past few wks has been nothing short of remarkable, and with each passing day it has seemed that our political theater couldn’t possibly get any more dramatic. And yet as the crisis we’re in has unfolded, each episode peeling back yet another layer of this bad onion, we have borne witness with watering eyeballs glazed and stuck to the screens over which headlines flash and burn.

This crisis has indeed been televised, and by yesterday the stock market was again a live tracking poll on the political mayhem and congressional theatrics playing out up on the Hill. And the hill was heaping up a Dow of Pooh. Mudslinging by members of both parties has produced Paulson’s worst nightmare — an economic crisis become a political crisis. The walls are now sh*tstained by the cranked-up blades of the proverbial fan. Perhaps they should have held the debate in Vegas. They say what happens there stays there.

Mudslinging may be nothing new to the political process, but in this day and age it comes faster and harder, and from more directions, than ever before. And the sheer volume and velocity of it all threatens to bury us in a deluge of undifferentiated slag. We may have more news, from more sources than ever before, but when it all arrives at once thought and reflection and critical distance collapse under the sheer weight of immediacy. It’s as if we’re suffocating in the vacuum of our own echo chamber, trapped in a relentless Now, able to talk but always against the mind-numbing cacophony and din of endless sound bites.

Perhaps this is simply how it goes in a panic. But we need considered action, and lately our actors have succumbed to reaction, adrift in the immediacy of it all.

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