Thursday, June 06, 2002

I haven't posted in a long time because I've been watching the world go by and doing a bit of reflecting as to where history is likely to take us from here. It seems clear, now, that the great legacy of the Clinton Years will prove to be the draining from American public life of what few vestiges of idealism and innocence still existed after the '80s. It's as if a giant damp gray muffling blanket of cynicism and indecision has been dropped over us. American idealism, after all, derives from our famous self-confidence, to which 9/11 put paid and which can only be rekindled, in this idealist's opinion, by exhortatory, perhaps even poetical powers utterly lacking in our public men. 9/11 is rather like the fire by which the occupants of Plato's cave descried the world outside: it throws everything into sharpest Manichean relief, it exaggerates and distorts, so stark is its glare that black seems white. It transforms a man who is basically a bum (Giuliani) into a hero and an event (Enron) which is basically a yawn - albeit, like everything else in the '90s, denominated with a couple more zeros than in earlier bubbles and scandals - into the financial equivalent of the sack of Troy.
Hamlet would recognize the world of 2002: "weary, stale, flat and unprofitable." And small. The penny-ante chiseling, from Kozlowski to the Farm Bill, is unbelievable. The developed world is lacking in will - as the Palestinians sense.
The trouble is, just as logs hide parasites, twigs can conceal dragons. Here's one to think about. The next five years could see the end of the "Dollar Hegemony" that gave us the '80s, the '90s, Alan Greenspan and what we thought was immunity from the fundamental laws of economics. Economically and fiscally, we have practiced the equivalent of unprotected sex in an Age of AIDS - and the money disease may prove as fatal as its sexual counterpart. Good help us.
What we need is LEADERSHIP. Someone who looks good on horseback, someone who speaks resonantly. This may not happen, because what is possible in a "meritocracy" may not be possible in the sort of resume-driven nomenklatural "connectocracy" we have become, and so I hold out scant hopes. I like W - but as Jock observes of the new officer in that great film "Tunes of Glory," he's a wee man, and this is no time for midgets!