This could be my imagination. I just feel like we've been in a mode of permanent media agitation since the presidential campaign started heating up. That's natural, I guess, considering American presidential elections are important, and cable news loves political coverage: lots of supposition, lots of analysis, lots of ways to fill time with meaningless verbiage, never-ending opportunities for talking heads to demonstrate their unique genius. It's exhausting, though, and the Internet was just as frantic. I was assuming (and hoping) that this hectic pace and breathlessness would naturally subsume after November 4th. But I look around, and don't see it happening. In fact I see a media that has basically forgotten how to cover mundane times.
Does anyone else feel that way? It seems like the media is treating the transition and the Blagojevich scandal with the same interest and hype that they treated the election. Which, frankly, is madness. Yes, Cabinet appointments are important. Are they really deserving of the kind of round-the-clock coverage and analysis the campaign was? The amount of media attention devoted just to the Hillary Clinton appointment was staggering. And the sense of importance that was attached to all of those discussions was totally out of line with the day-to-day impact the Secretary of State will have on the average American. Yes, our chief diplomat is important, but this was over the top. Same thing with the Blagojevich indictment. Crazy for a governor to be so corrupt, great story for the news. But not, in the final analysis, particularly relevant to the life of most people.
This is all made sadder still because I, and I suspect many others, have been waiting for the end of the Bush administration out of a deep desire for a return to normalcy, to the mundane reality of everyday life. The media was especially hyper about the election, like I said, but it's also seemed extremely agitated for pretty much the entirety of the Bush administration. Again, probably natural, considering the events. The Gore/Bush debacle. 9/11, of course, which was not only a time of natural hysteria and grief, but also an event about which many people insisted that, if you weren't in a state of hyper-emotionality, there was something wrong with you. Afghanistan and Iraq. The government deciding it could break any law it felt like, as long as they believed they were justified in doing so. The justice department punishing prosecutors for not making political prosecutions. And, you know, New Orleans being swallowed by the sea, and the government not really feeling like something needed to be done about it.
I'm so tired of the sense of never living in normal times, the feeling that our country has taken to careening from one disaster to the next. It's funny. Barack Obama is famously the candidate of change. But what I want from him is a return to normalcy, a return to the feeling that, while there are crises and there are disasters and there are challenges, we still live in the ordinary ebb and flow of time and events. That sense is lost to me; I feel like it's just a time of crisis, all the time. People tease me about my pining for the good old 90s, and of course I'm looking at the decade of my youth and my adolescence with rose-colored glasses. But I do think things were calmer then.
I know Barack Obama can't really bring back my lost America. Certainly, the news media is disinclined to change; they have every incentive to keep reporting at a fever pitch. But I'm hopeful for the future. Getting rid of George Bush-- warmongering, wiretapping, Katrina-enabling, torture-supporting, prosecutor-firing, environment-destroying, country-crushing George Bush-- well, that'll go a long way all on its own.