The American presidency ended. The American celebritocracy began. The process that began with televised debates ended with government as entertainment. There was no more room for the untelegenic or for men and women with private emotions. A man who could not empathize with the national debt at a drop of a hat, who could not abandon the habits of a lifetime of thinking in practical terms instead of emotional terms, was no longer a plausible candidate.
October 15, 1992 changed the conversation from a politician’s ability to discuss what he would do about a problem to his talking about how it made him feel bad. And now our politicians feel bad about a variety of things. But they all blame everyone else and there’s no objective way to settle the debate because feelings aren’t objective, they’re subjective.
Voters are slowly dragging themselves out of Obama’s “I-Sphere” because of the practical necessities of survival, such as having a job, which is difficult to come by in an economy run at the whim of a media-created chief executive who throws handfuls of money into the air and waits for them to turn into magic green jobs. And to do that they have to free themselves from their emotional entanglement with his image, his race and the vicarious life they have lived through him. They have to realize that feeling things is not nearly as important as doing them.
But Obama’s defeat, if it comes, will not restore what was. Obama is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself – which that we have stopped asking the hard questions and instead looked for soft reassurances. Instead of holding politicians accountable for their actions, we hold them accountable for our emotions. And that has led us into unmitigated disasters on numerous fronts.
So it was no surprise that the first question in last week’s Town Hall debate was an “I Feel” question directed at Romney or that Romney handled it glibly with “I Feel” material delivered in the soothing tone usually reserved by doctors for calming down upset patients. That is the function of a qualified politician now, to speak softly and soothingly reassure everyone that nothing is wrong. There’s no reason to be upset. Yes, the ship is sinking – but while it does, let’s stand on deck, listen to the orchestra play a song and talk, talk, talk about our feelings.
Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli-born blogger, columnist, and Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His writing can be found at sultanknish.blogspot.com.