I was tied up Thursday with my Sunday column for the Seattle Times. It was a good thing; otherwise, my head might have exploded. All the oxygen in the mediasphere was taken up by a "Democratic strategist" named Hilary Rosen, who said of Ann Romney on CNN, "Guess what, his wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and how do we — why do we worry about their future?" Vast condemnation ensued, ending with Rosen apologising. This wasn't just taking up space on Twitter or new-media sites, but the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, among others. A blogger for The Nation argued why Rosen was correct. I can't even imagine the wall-to-wall coverage on the boob tube.
As Evan McMorris-Santaro blogged at Talking Points Memo, "Welcome to the next seven months."
So if it wasn't already obvious, there are certain things that won't be discussed in Campaign 2012. The perhaps-failed launch of a proto-ICBM by nuclear-armed North Korea got short shrift Thursday. It may eventually be used as a cudgel against President Obama, but not today. Look over there — it's Hilary Rosen! Iran is pursuing both nuclear arms and long-range delivery systems, or not. Will we dig deep on this issue in the public square, including how Israel is driving American foreign policy not to our best interests? Don't count on it.
Sure, we'll hear much about the economy, most of it wrong-headed. Here's what won't be discussed: How average working stiffs are being left ever further behind and what could be done to fix it; the trade war we're already in with China and how our policies won't address it; why taxes need to go up, not down, and how government cutbacks are hurting the economy. Heaven forbid any candidate make investment in 21st century infrastructure a centerpiece; we'll be lucky to hear about fixing our "roads and bridges." And the trashing of the rule of law by the banksters? We'll be lucky to hear a few kooky gold-standard bleats by Ron Paul while wealthy Republican presidential nominee Willard Romney tries to persuade the electorate to go back to the policies that destroyed the economy so recently.
Endless wars? The only noise will be over how much and how fast, not whether we should be engaged at all, or spending more on defense than all other nations combined. We won't discuss the opportunity costs of these follies and how they will make us weaker in the future, no matter how many lethal toys we have. Iraq is a colossal failure and Afghanistan is close behind. Any thoughts? Anybody? Who will campaign against the ever-widening national-security state and the ability to jail American citizens indefinitely on murky or no charges?
The naive idealist would love to see a full vetting of the unprecedented control that big money exerts over our politics. What we need to do to correct this and especially overturn the Citizens United decision. And how re-electing Mr. Obama is not enough. There must be a wave of progressives elected to the Congress and statehouses nationwide. Let us welcome the hatred of the economic royalists and white-right nihilishs and loudly battle for the social compact. This idealist will be disappointed. There, there! It's Hilary Rosen! Isn't she a lesbian?!
And by no means let us focus on the two most important challenges of our time: Climate change and peak oil. No, we have better things to attract our attention. But they are hardly trivial: They entail the enterprise of destroying America and the world.
Postscript: Now we have a new bright shiny thing dangled before the public consciousness — Secret Service agents in trouble for engaging prostitutes in Columbia. Sex is the only way to get in trouble in today's America. Loot a bank? Send thousands of middle-class jobs overseas? Take the nation to war on lies? Torture and toss aside the rule of law? Waste billions on "the war on drugs"? No problem! Get in a sex scandal, and you're going down.