20.5.12

THE LIMITATIONS OF GOVERNMENT.

We have from time to time observed the maturation of Tom Brokaw.  In 2007 came a conjecture.
There was enough of a consensus that a midwestern graduate of a state university and a graduate of one of the Ivies could hold the same positions. In Boom, however, Mr Brokaw repeatedly (is it unwittingly?) suggests that shared consensus was one of an out-of-touch elite.
By August 2011, in the middle of Our President's contrived debt-ceiling crisis, came evidence that Mr Brokaw was beginning to recognize reality mugging him.  His The Time of Our Lives might have also been recognition that Reliance on Washington has reached its limits, although in that book he still keeps the notion of a Vital Progressive Center alive.

On May 6, while Cold Spring Shops was occupied with end-of-the-semester preparations, Mr Brokaw might have encountered Reality, perhaps on the road to Red Wing.  Some instructive observations to Meet the Press followed.  So far Mr Brokaw hasn't been sent to the stake, but he's living dangerously.
I've been all over the country in the last three weeks.  And with all due respect to the president, there's a real wariness out there.  They've gone from having pneumonia now to having a kind of strong virus when they look at the economy.  And you could use that old phrase, you know, "Fool me once, that's your fault, fool me twice, it's my fault."  I think that the country has felt that they've been through these kind of false up-ticks two or three times now in the last couple of years.  And they're waiting.
In a following paragraph, he keeps the hope of a Vital Progressive Center alive, but it's become a false hope among the voters.
The other point of it is, David, that wherever I went, people feel excluded from the process.  They think that it's now been concentrated on two extremes of the two parties.  And a big part of the middle feels left out, that they don't have a voice in it anymore.  So they're turning their backs on Washington and just worrying about what's going on where they are.
It will take future historians to lay to rest, for once and for all, the false magic of compromise. (See Three-Fifths Compromise and Missouri Compromise for existing examples.)  In the present troubles, a dispassionate analysis of the compromise creating majority-minority districts, meaning safe seats for Democrats, in such a way that Republicans can also create safe seats.   As a consequence, the median voter in a Democratic or Republican primary is a very different person from a median voter nationwide, and representatives in Congress have little basis for understanding contending perspectives, as they've had no incentive to learn them.

The Washington press corps, in Mr Brokaw's view, is no longer an advocate for the people.
I've been-- as I've gone around the country, a lot of people say to me, "What's happened with the press?  What's happened with political coverage in America?  We don't feel connected to it."

And then I was out on the road when the White House Correspondent Center popped up again.  And I looked at the C-SPAN coverage and read all the accounts of it.  And if there's ever an event that separates the press from the people that they're supposed to serve symbolically, it is that one.  It is time to rethink it.  You know, it's-- look, I think George Clooney's a great guy.  I'd like to meet Charlize Theron.

But I don't think the big press event in Washington should be that kind of glittering event where the whole talk about is Cristal champagne, taking over the Italian Embassy, who had the best party, who got to meet the most people.  That's another separation between what we're supposed to be doing and what the people expect us to be doing.  And I think that the Washington Press Corps has to look at that.  And by the way, I'm a charter member of the White House Correspondents Association.  I was there early on and often, and often enjoyed it.  But it's gone beyond what it needs to be.
It has been my hope that someone will run for president with the objective of lowering expectations: no longer Chief Operating Officer of The Economy and Commander in Chief of the Free World and Father Confessor and Keeper of the Down Pillows. Perhaps, though, the leading indicator will be from the press, in the form of one of the Sunday shows returning to a studio in New York City, or even Los Angeles, rather than Washington, or, more encouragingly, setting up in Chicago.

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