Part 4—Professor Gates' question, then ours: In China, they're finishing up their current "year of the rooster."
Over Here, we're just beginning our latest "year of the species." In this new year, our pseudo-discourse will almost surely unfold in thrall to the several unhelpful instincts our species' flesh is heir to.
It isn't completely our fault. It's largely the way we're wired!
Within our own culture, flesh tends to be heir to the joys of entertainment. Just today, on Morning Joe, the AP's Julie Pace explained the latest way this pattern is unfolding:
BARNICLE (1/5/18): Julie, we've been talking obviously for 48 hours about Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, Michael Wolff, the book, the Mercers, Bob Mueller, obstruction of justice, the Trump administration in disarray.For the full exchange, click here, move to the five-minute mark.
But while all of this is happening, I'm wondering, do you pick up any vibes, comments, feelings from people on both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat, about all the little things, and they're not little, slipping under the threshold, like the front page story in the New York Times today about basically giving away both coastal waterways, Atlantic and Pacific, to the gas and oil companies for drilling. Things like that...
Do you pick up any vibes on that?
PACE: Yes, actually, in the last 48 hours, we've had some really major policy news that has gone under the radar. We had the drilling announcement yesterday...
On the Democratic side, though, what you hear is a belief that some of this is strategic, that the president wants to create this chaos, or at least is happy to let the chaos reign, so that some of these more unpopular decisions don't end up being what we're all talking about, and what the American people are hearing about.
Pace referred to "the drilling announcement" in which Donald J. Trump sold off the nation's coastlines. And sure enough:
If you were watching cable last night, that very much didn't "end up being what we're all talking about." That news did go "under the radar," as Pace (and Barnicle) said.
We didn't hear about that last night. Instead, we heard about the exciting "true crime" chase after Donald J. Trump. We heard about that, and about little else. We heard about that again and again. It was exciting, entertaining, dramatic, tribally pleasing and fun.
In our experience, Pace was one of the past year's best journalists. She doesn't wander outside her lane. She doesn't get over her skis.
In this instance, Pace was noting an obvious fact: cable news is indulging itself in the excitement of the latest "true crime" drama, the chase after Donald J. Trump. The auctioning of the American coastlines is simply too dull to discuss.
Almost surely, that's the way it's going to go in our upcoming "year of the species." On cable, the stars will feed us drama, and that's where the feeding will end.
That's how it will be in the upcoming year. Looking back on the year just ended, we make a dramatic announcement:
Today, we announce two different "questions of the year!" The first was asked by Professor Gates. We'll debut the second right here.
Among people not employed at this site, we thought Professor Gates asked the year's best question. He popped his question to Ava DuVernay on his PBS program, Finding Your Roots. His question went exactly like this:
"What difference does it make?"
What difference does it make! In our view, the question was transplendent. For our prior report, click here.
Gates' question concerned the meaning of "race," a concept and topic which dominates much of our own tribe's thinking. We expect to return to that question and to that topic in the coming year.
We thought Gates' question, to which he required no answer, was potent, on target, outstanding. For ourselves, as the past year reached its end, we had an additional question.
Our question can be tied to recent columns by Paul Krugman about the Republican tax bill. Transparently, the bill was a scam designed to reward GOP donors, Krugman repeatedly said.
Transparently, everyone else was destined to lose, red and blue voters alike! But then, so too with these remarkable data:
Per capita spending, health care, 2015Everyone is getting looted, red and blue voters alike! Our question therefore is this:
United States: $9451
United Kingdom: $4003
South Korea: $2488
What keeps liberals from explaining this fact to Republican voters?
Our tribe has an answer to that question—an answer we very much like. That said, our own "question of the year" can also be rendered like this:
Is it possible that we are somehow at fault in this pathetic matter? Is there some part of our tribe's game we could somehow improve?
We loved Professor Gates' question. We expect to explore his startling question in the year ahead.
That said, we like our own question too! We present these queries as dual "questions of the year"—as questions of the year just ended and of the year ahead.
Tomorrow: Even more sex in the cinema