Tribal dysfunction described: We're spending the weekend thinking about the various forms of muddle which occur in, even dominate, our alleged national discourse.
We're thinking about Richard Panek's essay on gravity in the Washington Post Outlook section. We're thinking about Lauren Michele Jackson's recent lengthy essay in Slate, although we'll admit we can't quite define what Jackson was talking about.
We're thinking about the way Eric Levitz pictures the size of the achievement gaps in New York City's public schools. Also, of the way his picture follows the picture painted by Dana Goldstein quite a while ago.
We're thinking about the latest word from inside a bubble at Salem State. We're thinking about the way Eve Fairbanks hears the voice of John Wilkes Booth when she reads Nicholas Kristof—and we're thinking about the editor who would put such dreck into print.
Needless to say, this would all be comical, if not for the astonishing place to which our penchant for muddle has brought us. With respect to that point, we'll restrict ourselves to quoting one passage from Michelle Goldberg's latest column.
In her column, Goldberg ponders the possibility that the GOP is about to wither away, an event which always seem to be right around the corner. She quotes Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg describing one part of the public's reaction to the election of Trump:
GOLDBERG (9/6/19): In his polling and focus groups, [Greenberg is] seeing that the reaction to Trump is changing people. “The Trump presidency so invaded the public’s consciousness that it was hard to talk to previously disengaged and unregistered unmarried women, people of color and millennials without them going right to Trump,” he writes. A few months after the election, he realized he could no longer put Clinton and Trump voters in focus groups together because indignant Clinton voters, particularly women, so dominated the conversations. “This turned out to be an unintended test of the strength of their views and resolve to resist,” he wrote.If we might borrow from the Beatles: All the previously disengaged people, where did they all come from?
At any rate, once their sleepwalking gave us Trump, they became indignant, irate. When Greenberg tried to stage focus groups, they talked over everyone else!
So it went within the tents of our admittedly brilliant tribe, whose members sleepwalked through decades of the muddle-rich public nonsense which eventually gave us Trump.
For the record, Goldberg had played a part of that sleepwalking. On the bright side, it may have helped her land her job at the Times. But our tribe is deeply inept in various leadership sectors, and has been for many years.
Is it possible that the sleepwalking continues? In Goldberg's column, we get to dream about the inevitable defeat of Donald J. Trump, and perhaps of all the people who sound like John Wilkes Booth. But what might such a disordered person do in the face of onrushing defeat?
What might Donald Trump do next year? All over cable, as cable stars cluck, that question is being ignored.