Talking Politics: Punditry

Take me to the river, drop me in the water
Take me to the river, dip me in the water
Washing me down, washing me down

Talking Heads, 1978

Pundit:

NOUN: 1. A source of opinion; a critic: a political pundit. 2. A learned person. 3. Hinduism Variant of pandit.
ETYMOLOGY: Hindi pandit, learned man, from Sanskrit pandita, learned, scholar, perhaps of Dravidian origin. http://www.bartleby.com/61/12/P0661200.html
 

I tortured myself watching this crap for months now, trying to learn, get a “feel’ for how the political machine works, figuring if if I watched enough of it, I would glean some kind of political wisdom. Perhaps I would be able to understand their little infights better, I would at least know who they were talking about when they went after a different pundit puppet. There they were, always on time, as if they were waiting for me, as I also waited- for them to dispense their wit, their wisdom, their ‘ political savvy’ upon me. I would be as Pygmalion’s clay, then I would come to life, begin to understand. I tried to be objective, tried to see them as I imagine your average citizen sees them, and also applying the lens of my own politics- as if with an opera glass. I can’t take any more. I have only come to the conclusion that one could ride that merry-go-round ad infinitum , they are all full of sh*t.

Different restaurants, same menu- sometimes it’s a little more rare, sometimes a little more well-done, sometimes heavy on the garlic (mm garlic).. but it’s the same food. Yakyakyakyakkity yak . Every time it almost seems like they might go somewhere, they “stall” and back to sitting there smugly in “idle” , and I’m like ” well…? what gives? Aren’t you going to go anywhere with that? It was just getting good, you were on the right track, you were almost there..” and then they go right back to lather, rinse , repeat.

I wasn’t really that into politics until Iraq, when I started researching foreign policy, and why were we so hell-bent on attacking the middle east- I knew it wasn’t only because of 911,I sort-of followed the news –  I knew about Desert Storm. I have sons, I ‘m  worried about war.  So now I take on the dread task of  wading  through the commentators just to try and see what mainstream neo-cohns out there believe or are being taught to believe (not to mention  the political blogger sites and their little wars “they said this, then this one countered with that” , the ones who hate each other, which I don’t care about.)

Even when I “get ” what they are rambling about, and vaguely know the other people they are discussing (because if one doesn’t know the players , and/or premise/context/history , then one doesn’t know what the hell they are talking about no matter how long one listens) . Worse, they are hardly ever directly attack , they don’t go after each other in a straight way , like “You believe X, you are putting out Y as what we should do or as what is best, or what is truth, I disagree with you and here’s the reasons why”. No, they don’t do that , they have their own little code and methods of intonation to try and psychologically discredit/takedown their opposition- it is like they took lessons from the Queen Bytch of the 8th grade- going in circles in that slimy, high-handed, I-know-what-I’m talking-about-you-better-listen-to-me-White-man , like being lectured by the school principal. Or Nancy YouKnowWho , who sounds like someone’s mom: “You better have those car insurance papers n your glove box. You DID put them in there,riiiighhttt?”

Blahh. A lot of those CNN people are like that. A lot of “professionals” are like that too. Lawyers, real estate people, that same tone. “better believe what I say, cause I know what’s what”. Do they think people like that? DO people actually like that? Maybe they do. Maybe it makes them feel safe, or like they can relax and not worry cause Sean or Lou or Joe or Bill have it covered. Does it recall their parents? It sure doesn’t recall my parents.

Another conclusion is that pundits are the bad version of “Cliff Notes” . You’re supposed to “read the book” and think for yourself, figure stuff out for yourselves. I don’t feel I am getting anything of value from them, even to be applied somehow in my own Un-PC world. The more and longer I watched, the more I felt like it was the male version of Oprah, the way the Big Coffeeshop is like a bar , but for women. They aren’t that interesting, or original, or funny (though one almost gets the sense that they aren’t even taking what they are saying all that seriously- it’s just a game).

I wanted more from these TV people I had heard of but never bothered with watching growing up. I thought , “this is the realm of where the Big Boys play, this is serious stuff, I will learn things, things that might help me in my own views, even if I don’t want to copy their style, I will get something out of this, I can become a better activist, I will be able to argue better, write better, “. This calls to mind some long ago class where if the hypothesis fails, there’s a special name and abbreviation for that-

Ever hear that line “it’s not you, it’s me”, when someone wants to courteously weasel out of something? Well, in this case, it’s not me, it’s you, punditmen. I have a suspicion it’s not that I’m not “smart enough” to get it. I “get it” all right, or at least got enough to be and more convinced than ever that I didn’t really miss much all those years, and am better off thinking and sorting things out on my own, on my long walks in the morning and at dusk- or as I’m washing dishes or folding clothes, etc.

Do we need pundits to “explain reality” to us? Are our own thoughts and perceptions , conclusions somehow “not good enough”? What are they there for? What purpose do they serve? Are they to teach us? It doesn’t seem so. Real learning encourages questioning, the search for truth, a means to an end. It is not just re-affirmation of the same stuff , over and over. That is indoctrination, not real learning, certainly not real debate. What are the real reasons why they are there? So I have been led to bigger questions, what is the true function of media , and of these “talking heads”.

And so, the lambs are still screaming…but the sheep are watching “pundits” . Baaaahh humbug.

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6 thoughts on “Talking Politics: Punditry

  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Eric Hundin

  2. The Talking Heads actually covered Al Green for “Take Me to the River” – so he should get the lyrcial credits.

    Just sayin.

  3. Been off the radar with a fever today, my youngest a little punked out as well- working on another chapter of my story but slow going because of this- going to try and finish tonight, if not, then add to it/revise tomorrow.

  4. hello, Matt-
    that is a good idea, don’t know how I missed it, was just telling someone how much I liked to use garlic for cooking- I’ll try putting some in the dry soup stuff I like. Wrote another chapter late last night in the “Creative Writing” section but will prob revise/add to it when I’m better.

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