As you probably know, Matt Taibbi has a new book out, Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America. Within it, Taibbi moves from his established gig reporting on the weirdness that is modern American poltical campaigning…
… Being in the building with Palin that night [of her acceptance speech for the VP nomination] is a transformative and oddly unsettling experience. It’s a little like having live cave-level access for the ripping-the-heart-out-with-the-bare-hands scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. A scary-as-hell situation: thousands of pudgy Midwestern conservatives worshipping at the Altar of the Economic Producer, led by a charismatic arch-priestess letting loose a grade-A war cry. The clear subtext of Palin’s speechi is this: other politicians only talk about fighting these assholes. I actually will.
Palin is talking to voters whose country is despised internationally, no longer an industrial manufacturing power, fast becoming an economic vassal to the Chinese and the Saudis, and just a week away from an almost-total financial collapes. Nobody here is likely to genuinely believe a speech that promises better things.
But cultural civil war, you have that no matter how broke you are. And if you want that I, Sarah Palin, can give it to you. It’s a powerful, galvanizing speech, but the strange thing about it is its seeming lack of electoral calculation. It’s a transparent attempt to massmarket militancy and frustration, consolidate the group identity of an aggrieved demographic, and work that crowd up into a lather. This represents a further degrading of the already degraded electoral process. Now, not only are the long-term results of elections irrelevant, but for a new set of players like Palin, the outcome of the election itself is irrelevant. This speech wasn’t designed to win a general election, it was designed to introduce a new celebrity, a make-believe servant of the people so phony that later in her new career she will not even bother to hold an elective office.
The speech was a tremendous success.
… to a thorough, even obsessive, discussion of the new finance-based reality:
Our world isn’t about ideology anymore. It’s about complexity. We live in a complex bureaucratic state with complex laws and complex business practices, and the few organizations with the corporate willpower to master these complexities will inevitably own the political power.
Amazon’s currently advertising Griftopia for half off the cover price, and if you order through the link in the right-hand column, I understand you’ll be adding a couple pennies to Tunch’s personal catfood commission. If the Amazon teaser isn’t enough for you, Rolling Stone has an excerpt on “how our cash-strapped country is auctioning off its highways, ports and even parking meters at fire sale prices.”
The witty and foul-mouthed TBogg will be leading an online discussion of Griftopia at the FDL Book Salon on Saturday afternoon, November 27. If you are a faster typist than I, there should be some excellent back-and-forth shared there.