Drooling on the Pillow

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Two Americas 

I met this fellow, probably twenty-five years ago, at the first reading for the play Scapino.   He drew attention to himself by bringing a briefcase to the reading, which, where I came from was an odd thing to do.   I remember him being in a suit and tie, but there's a good chance this wasn't the case.  Something about him made you see him that way, though.  To top it off, he volunteered to be Equity Deputy.  That really made heads turn.

Deputy isn't an onerous job, usually.  I did it once or twice, but only when I was trapped into it.  Just filling out a few forms once a week.  If the production or the producers get in trouble, though, it can really eat into your day.

Mark and I became friends, but the point I'm pounding into the ground is that we are very different animals.  Today, he's Vice President of Equity.  I, on the other hand, look forward to going into that good night with an unblemished record of never being elected to anything.

Which is by way of establishing my bona fides as a political moron, illiterate, babe in the woods with a hard lustrous sheen that repels all sophisticated thought.

Which is why this "Two America" thing puzzles me.

You can of course binary (its a verb!) anything.  In my house there are two dictionaries.  True, they are both between the same two covers, but that only makes it more poignant that we have one dictionary for A through M . . . AND ANOTHER DICTIONARY for N through Z (and the gazetteer).

Populism as an art form turns on the ability to intuit the point at which to bifurcate the electorate where the resentment of the hind half benefits you more than insulting the front half will harm you.

But in this country the vast majority considers itself "middle class".  Most of them own a house, two cars, stocks and bonds.  Plasma screens abound.  There are rich and there are poor, of course.  Nobody ever lost an election because they rhetorically smacked the rich around.  But what is the effect of "Two Americas" on the self-identified middle class?   They know, I assume, that the business end of this appeal is a hand in their pockets.  Which America do they understand themselves to inhabit?  If they think they're A through M, this appeal has got to concern them.  If they think they're N through Z, perhaps they don't believe it's their pockets that will be picked.  Or maybe they think they're the Gazetteer -- a special case off to the side, neither beneficiary or target of the appeal.  Perhaps the appeal is to their sense of shame, that there exist people behind them.

Also, there is the oft noted quality of the American people that there are very few poor people who don't believe they will one day be rich people and are thus sanguine about the privileges of the elite.  Maybe we're talking about two different entities:  the American people and the American electorate.  Perhaps they respond differently to the same set of data.

I should ask Mark.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


July was my weakest month of blogging since I began this thing.  I feel like apologizing, but to whom?  I don't think anyone counts on their daily dose of Sluggo.

In honor of the Democratic convention, though, I think I should point out that it wasn't my fault.  I obtained this gig, just like a certain international construction company, with a no-bid contract.

Har, har.  I just kill myself.

During your blogosphere Convention peramubulations, don't miss Colby Cosh.  He describes Kerry as a "slo-mo Savonarola".

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