Wednesday, September 6

Our National Poverty

I saw the Green Party candidate for the governorship of New York State spoken at on a program whose name sounds like a hybrid between an aggressive sport and a presumably seductive personality: "Hardball with Chris Matthews." This is a regularly televised crass money-winning campaign that exploits formats and styles formally unique to news. The genre now proliferates CABLE-TV-LAND. In response to a question that Matthews, in form, seemed to have moved beyond even as he asked it, the candidate said that he was running for office to combat poverty. If Chris Matthews did not laugh (my recollection is not clear), he so hastened away from the guest's response that, as a consequence, the idea of combatting poverty seemed a small, faint, fanciful thing. It at least deserved a chuckle, especially as it came from a man of his age. In a proud land, where men have always stood tall, the little Green guest could not be serious in assuming that politicians go to work for only dim targets and minor gains. Especially not in a time of war! And terror! And Iran! And Arabs that hate us! And nuke-you-lar threats!

For this widespread dismissal of the idea of fighting poverty, should I blame Matthews or the many similar production teams and corporate-executives-in-chief? I suspect that even if Matthews had for once discovered how to enter into dialogue with a guest, for instance to ask today's guest how exactly he proposed to combat poverty, most customer-citizens in TV-LAND would scorn the candidate in their hearts to hear him speaking like some Christian demagogue of old or incurable flower child. But then such has been their media-conditioning, and we are left to ponder the chicken or the egg.