Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Chilean Miners

I am certainly delighted that the Chilean miners are safely home, but I have to say that I'm a little disgusted with the media coverage of the ordeal. The media, or at least that part of it that I've seen, is treating the rescued men like heroes and transforming them into celebrities when in fact they're not the real heroes in this narrative at all. Sure, they endured their difficulties while trapped in the mine with a grace and stoicism that is admirable, but the people who should be celebrated, the real heroes, are the people whose ingenuity and determination got them out.

Of these people we've heard next to nothing. The miners have been swamped with job offers, book deals, movie contracts, and gifts of all kinds. Have the engineers who masterminded this rescue been offered such rewards? These men of genius (forgive me if that sounds a bit too Randian) planned and executed an astonishing rescue, and then in anonymity they probably drove home to their families, turned on the television and watched the Chilean equivalent of the baseball playoffs. No one knows their names and the media doesn't seem to care who they are. Instead, the men who simply survived are feted as though they're the ones who did something extraordinary, when in fact they'd all be dead today if it weren't for the brilliance of the engineers and others whom the media seems to have ignored.

It's another example of how much of the media trivializes, diminishes, or otherwise gets wrong just about every story it covers. They simply seem to lack the ability to discern importance.

What Then?

Now he tells us. After repeatedly trying to justify spending almost a trillion dollars of "stimulus," much of which, we were told, was allocated to "shovel-ready jobs," the President now acknowledges that he didn't realize there are no such jobs:
Mr. Obama reflects on his presidency, admitting that he let himself look too much like “the same old tax-and-spend Democrat,” realized too late that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects” and perhaps should have “let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts” in the stimulus.
Great. What else is the President going to learn after the damage has been done? That global warming is largely a fraud? That raising taxes and increasing regulations on business is no way to stimulate an economy? That bowing to people is no way to win their respect? That taking money from those who earn it and giving it to those who don't doesn't make anyone less poor?

Perhaps he'll also learn that the reason he appears to be "the same old tax-and-spend Democrat" is because he is the same old tax-and-spend Democrat. How else could he have expected to appear?

There really is a problem in this White House. Either the President was deliberately lying when he promised that "shovel-ready jobs" would be created by the $800 billion stimulus or he really didn't know that there's no such thing. If it's the former then he's malicious. If it's the latter he's incompetent. In either case he's unsuited for the office he holds.

There's a scene in the movie A Serious Man in which an adolescent Jewish boy visits an elderly rabbi for counsel. The rabbi poses a question to the boy by slowly and incongruously reciting a line from an old Jefferson Airplane song:
"When the found ... to be lies ... and all the hope ... within you dies ... What then?"
It was an amusing scene in the movie, but I think a lot of Obama supporters are feeling the despair in this very question today, and they're not finding it so amusing. An electoral tsunami appears to be building on the horizon and is threatening to wash Mr. Obama's party into political oblivion. They're going to pay an awful price for his on-the-job training.