Thursday, August 5, 2010

Colbert Interviews Basil Marceaux and Laura Ingraham, and I Ponder the State of the Nation

I blogged recently about the ugly anti-immigrant messages Steve and I heard on television on our drive across our neighbor state of Tennessee in the final part of July (disclaimer: we could probably hear equally horrific statements from our own state’s candidates for the fall elections, but 1) we mute or fast forward through all commercials, and 2) we’re not in a gubernatorial election cycle as Tennessee is).

But when I posted about this on July 20, I had no idea how bad things were.  Yesterday, I watched a clip of Stephen Colbert from Comedy Central as I slogged away on my treadmill for daily exercise.  It contained this grotesque segment about Basil Marceaux, who’s running for the governor’s position in Tennessee. 

I had no idea.  No idea things could get this bad.
In the same episode, Colbert interviews right-wing talk radio maven Laura Ingraham, a fellow Dartmouth grad.   In that segment, I was surprised to hear Ingraham suggest that banshees are part of native American folklore.

Can a graduate of an elite ivy league university really not know that banshees are a traditional part of Irish folklore?  And Ms. Ingraham is instructing us on how to vote and think about matters cultural and political?!
And the insight that hit me as I stepped, stepped, stepped and listened . . . . But before I get to it: I’m well aware that these exercise-time insights that seem so stellar to me are probably like those powerful recognitions that come to us in dreams, which are next to impossible to explain to someone else, and which seem to vanish in the light of day, as our rational minds kick in.  Still, they seem meaningful to me, and they might just possibly strike someone whose dream channels are set on a wavelength similar to mine.
So here’s what suddenly hit me as I watched Colbert yesterday: it’s one thing for a country to let itself be governed by fools.  But it’s quite another thing to let ourselves be governed by cunning, morally vacuous knaves masquerading as pious and educated gurus.

That we’ve gotten to that level now ought to disturb us all very seriously.