James Taranto had a great deal of fun last year with Obama’s promise to do away with cynicism, even as he engaged in one of the most cynical campaigns ever. But he was right in one way. Cynicism is dead on the left, especially in the media. Herewith a couple of rather striking examples.
Example number one is San Francisco magazine, which was prominently displayed at the liberal shopping shrine, Whole Foods. (As an aside, while I think Whole Foods has some excellent products, I find creepy the air of reverence people bring to it. Come on, guys. You’re consumers, not worshipers. But I digress….) If you hurry over to the magazine’s website, you can see (in the lower right hand corner) a picture of this month’s cover. The entire image is Obama’s smiling, big-eared head (and is it me, or does that picture look remarkably like this picture, big ears and all?). Emblazoned over Obama’s headshot are these words: “Democracy: The Upgrade.” Talk about “journalists” (a term I use advisedly) wearing their hearts on their sleeves.
You see the same juvenile infatuation in my second example, Maira Kalman’s picture/text love letter to Obama, published in the New York Times as a form of journalism. In this blushing ode to the new era of wonderfulness, an ode Kalman entitles “Hallelujah,” she rhapsodizes about the exquisite pleasures of Washington, D.C. now that the pall of the Bush years has ended and the magic of Obama has begun. Even the plastic flowers in the restroom have taken on a new glow. D.C. — nay, the whole world, politics, everything — is once more “smart again. And sexy again. And optimistic again.” After eight years of darkness, Kalman is can freely enjoy the little things in life: ladies’ hats, pretty dresses, the aforementioned bathroom flowers. The Messiah is here.
If you read the comments to this bizarre bit of art journalism, comments that at least have the virtue of coming from non-journalists, you see the same tone, with people waking from the endless nightmare of the Bush years. Some examples:
You are so beautifully right about this–it was a day for angel song. In fact we had all become beautiful like angels, and had grown angel wings and could not, could not keep our feet from floating above the ground. Margaret
Watching on television, I felt a palpable lifting of a weight (yes, that’s a cliche, but I really felt it all day) that we now had an elected President. In your word: Hallelujah!
The Constitution is the hope of the United States and Obama is the hope of the Constitution.
Your images and words perfectly capture our rediscovery of hope and color. Thank you Maira.
the brillant [sic] colors and cool words give me a chance to relive and relive again this wonderful day – since i wasn’t there. hopefully this spirit of goodwill will be contagious thruout [sic] the world. the obamas [sic] have already wrought change!!
It’s one thing for ordinary, vapid newspaper readers to see in this goofy looking, cold-hearted guy a new Messiah who makes flowers bloom again, but it’s appalling that members of the media have voluntarily transformed themselves into quivering, bodice-heaving wenches drooling at the sight of the large-eared squire’s son, riding down the lane in his powerful, gas-guzzling SUV, as he races to his hot-house heated home, while they stand outside in the cold, gazing longingly at him through the glass.
No matter the president, no matter the policies, no matter the journalist’s personal political preferences, the only media that can function well is a cynical media, one that views with suspicion, at least on first pass, anything that emanates from the government. As it is, just as with the rapturous virgin the media is now imitating, the media (and we Americans along with it) is going to find out that, once the wooing is over, we are all well and truly . . . plucked.
UPDATE: Charles Martel is right. “Skepticism” is a much better word than cynicism. After the first paragraph, every time you see the word “cynical” or some variation, substitute “skeptical” or some variation.