"FOX NEWS ALERT," screams the screen, in red. "FOX NEWS LEARNS OF POSSIBLE THREAT TO NY HARBOR." Do we have your attention now? Who cares if FOX's reporter goes on to say that the New Year's Eve threat is "uncorroborated, noncredible [sic] and suspect"? Attention will be paid.
The pregame show is ticking toward the opening kickoff. The networks are up- dating their SHOWDOWN and COUNTDOWN logos, upgrading their drumrolls and trumpet snippets, cueing their cruise missile videos and maps of hitherto obscure regions. The color commentators and military consultants are sipping their coffee in the green rooms, getting pumped. War is the spectacle of spectacles, and for television news there's no business like spectacle business. To air debate about whether war makes sense is decidedly a lesser priority.
Work is the dirty secret of contemporary life -- to
judge by the movies, at any rate. Although work is where people experience
roughly half their waking hours over the course of four or five decades, working
life is not considered glamorous or electric enough to hold the attention of
audiences. Filmgoers, after all, treat the movies as a respite from (among other
things) working life. Yet much of our experience of human relations takes place
at work: the victories and defeats, purposes and routines, thrusts and
counterthrusts, lies and impositions, passions large and small, affections and
disaffections, actions, reactions, ambitions, thrills, and disappointments that
frustrate and animate life.
The politics of the Gingrich revolution of the
nineties are locked in a strange obsession with the politics they purport to
repealthe politics of the late sixties. House Majority Leader Dick Armey,
Republican of Texas, forthrightly set out the conventional loathing: "To me
all the problems began in the sixties." But the troops of the New Right are
far more nourished by the sixties than they appreciate. The sixties provide the
right both an evil to extirpate and a libertarian ethic to emulate.