Monday, March 23, 2009

That Train is So Far Gone

I was watching 'This Week' with my good-haired friend George Stephanopolous yesterday and was struck by a certain something. The initial discussion was about AIG and the budget. It included the gal from Maine with the lisp - not Snow; some guy Conrad, from the Senate budget committee (never saw him before in my life); Mike Pence from Indiana, and one of Biden's advisors - can't remember his name. The players are important because they ostensibly represent so many different points of view - men, women, farmers, city dwellers, money-makers, beuaurocrats, conservatives, liberals, and so on. So the conversation should have been pretty interesting and broad ranging, with lots to chew on for all different kinds of viewers. And it was. Except for one thing.

Mike Pence was caught up in a one-note tune that has lost its appeal. Like a Top 40 hit that's been played to death and becomes eye-rollingly tedious rather than toe-tappingly good to hear he was the only person to make a point of drilling 'the Democrats' every time he was in disagreement with something. It was very noticeable because finally, thankfully, that tactic has all but lost its presence in public discourse. Think about it. In recent weeks, the conversations have been almost entirely issues-oriented and the party-to-party concerns have been offshoots of the debates, rather than the main topics.

When I realized this I was delighted. This guy's single-minded, dogged pursuit of 'the Democrats' was almost freakishly out of place in the discussion. Great! Then? Bonus! I was pleased to see how the other members of the panel responded. They gave him nothing. Like a kid who keeps repeating 'let's play legos. let's play legos. let's play legos.' when no one else wants to play. Eventually, that kid just ends up playing by himself and everyone else moves on.

But then, I got nervous. The last few years have left me politically wincing. I want to believe we're over it - that we've moved past the 6th grade schoolyard conversation - 'you're stupid' 'no you're stupid' - and that we're now allowing the grownups to run the asylum, for whatever that's worth. But as Pence drummed on and on about 'the Democrats' I kept waiting for someone else to pick up the beat. It's happened so many times before when I thought it wouldn't. I waited and waited, but no one did join in. He was alone. We had gotten over it and Mike Pence had not.

So when the segment was done and George grinned his way off to commercial, I turned off the t.v. for a sec and let it soak in. The train Pence was looking for had left the station without him. It was clear out of sight and he was standing on the platform straining over the edge, hoping by sheer will he could bring it back and jump on. But he couldn't. On this day, at this time, it was long gone and he was left alone to play with his legos companionless.

And man, did that feel good.

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