Friday, October 28, 2005
What To Do With A Total Bummer
I do think there is a problem with the "mood of the nation." I also think it is fear, but I do not think it is as deep-seated as Ms. Noonan seems to think.
But since 9/11, in the four years after that catastrophe, I have wondered if it hasn't all gotten too big, too complicated, too crucial, too many-fronted, too . . . impossible.Note her reference, "But since 9/11...." That attack was a deep, deep wound, deeper than most want to admit. While I am not sure people think the trolley is off the tracks, I do think people are waiting for "the other shoe to drop."
In her lament, Noonan also presents the seed of the solution
Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. I refer specifically to the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere. I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they're living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they're going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley's off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.True, our elites have theirs, but I don't think they think the trolley's off the tracks, though I do think they think there is little they can do about the national mood.
Let's start with the fact that things are basically OK because they do have theirs. If things were really, really bad, we'd all be struggling. I, like Noonan, have more than my fair share of concern, but when I look objectively, things are OK -- have to trust the data.
Here's the problem. As I did my business commuting yesterday I listened to a CD I got in London over the summer -- the greatest speeches of Winston Churchill. That man's oratory is nothing short of incredible. Noonan's former boss, Reagan was "The Great Communicator." Churchill won the war with his words. Reagan turned the country around, less because of his policy and more because he made people feel good about being Americans again, using his communication skills.
There are some places I think this president is better that Reagan, but one place he is not is communication. He appears to either be of the opinion that he cannot do anything about the national mood, or thinks he lacks the skills to do it. But he can. He has shown moments of rhetorical brilliance, particularly immediate post 9/11. He could hire Ms. Noonan herself to write for him, Lord knows she's good.
I also think blog have a role here. We are prime gripers We need to become uplifters. It's easy to point out how bad things are, and it brings readers. But I for one want to have a positive impact.
This is a great nation. We are in good shape. We are going to be hit again in the GWOT, but, in the grand scheme of things, so what? Yes, we lost lots of friends in that catastrophe, but the nation stands tall.
It's been four years, the wound is healed and it's time to stop staring at the scar.