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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Vanity and Virtue

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One book of the Bible starts this way:

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

As I read the political news at the end of this week, that verse rang through my head continuously.  “Vanity” is the perfect word to describe how the week just past ended.  Consider two definitions of the word:

excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements,etc.; character or quality of being vainconceit:

something worthless, trivial, or pointless.

So at a time when healthcare is collapsing and the Senate is waffling on what to do, a time when military options vis-á-vis North Korea are being discussed, we are treated to a Tweet-fight that fits both those definitions perfectly. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, consider yourself fortunate.  But if you insist it is easy enough to look up – I certainly am not going to dignify it with links.  I did not count, but I would estimate that between 30% and 50% of the stories that crossed my feeds Thursday and Friday were about this silly ego-filled Twitter showdown.  I find this a sign of either the approaching apocalypse or something rather brilliant, perhaps both.

On the one hand, the hand that sees the approaching apocalypse, this is another sign of the decline of civic virtue, not to mention private virtue.  Even if the brilliance I will conjecture is present, this remains the case because in order for that conjectured brilliance to work, we have to be in some sort of decline of virtue.  But I am the first to say that virtue is a product of forces other than political and governmental, so the absence of such virtue while tremendously lamentable, does not reflect on the potential for political smarts.

So, what brilliance am I willing to conjecture?  Well, consider this.  The parties involved in the fight have a historical relationship that was, at least at one point, friendly.  One party commands, because of his position, massive media attention.  The other makes a living off of ratings.  I have not seen the ratings, but could it be this whole thing is a giant kayfabe designed to drive ratings towards a specific show?

Furthermore, any Congressional action that sees the press’ light of day becomes almost impossible to pass.  Between legislators playing for the camera and the press offering up oppo left and right things that do happen are happening more-or-less in the dark.  Healthcare died in the House, leaving the press off-guard, until it sprang up again and passed at lightening speed – before the press had time to marshal itself.  So now that healthcare seems on the wane in the Senate, what if we give them another shiny object to attract their attention?

Now, again, this is all entirely conjecture on my part, I have no reporting.  And again, even if this conjecture is the case, the fact that it seems to be working does not at all speak well for the nation.  But that said it does raise one very interesting question – Who, precisely is “stupid?”


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