Rage, rage against the dying of the white

Words fail Leaguer Blaise Pascal quite decorously in his post on Clint Eastwood as a King Lear figure. To steal one of Blaise’s key quotes:

I am a very foolish fond old man,
Fourscore and upward, not an hour more or less;
And, to deal plainly,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind.

The best tweet of a night of billions of ‘em came from Jamelle Bouie: “This is a perfect representation of the campaign: an old white man arguing with an imaginary Barack Obama.” It’s a sad-funny rather than tragic observation, at least so far, but it’s not sad-funny just for Clint and the Rs. The seemingly random mistake, putting the octogenarian up there to speak off his decidedly frayed cuff, becomes typical not just for the Romney campaign but for the epoch as the campaign embodies it. The unifed R message, the message of R and R but of all the Rs for years now, well-represented in their last presidential candidate and the Tea Party, is the ludicrous and insane notion that we can and should want to pretend that our Clint-nation can start all over again as a bunch of young singing cowboys catching a break – or even as older ones at the peak of their careers. That one was last seen riding into the sunset, now available only as a hologram. The Marlboro Man died of cancer, and it’s only our failing faculties that prevent us from keeping the fact in mind. The difficulty for the Obama campaign or any campaign is that being aware that there is no easy answer, and that acting as though there might be one might makes things much worse, is not the same as actually possessing the answer or even a good answer. Better to celebrate what we have left, as though relative decline is not true decline, or just the decline of obsolete ideas – not quite admitting that something once beloved and believed in is, slowly as can be withstood, being put to rest. My guess is still that fatalism and the pleasures of retirement will win out over panicky desperation and magical thinking, but the thought of irreversibility, permanence, and extinction is the very thing that induces panicky desperation and magical thinking.

4 comments on “Rage, rage against the dying of the white

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  1. Objection, what is a fop about Eastwood, curmudgeon, maybe, but that has been since the Dirty Harry days, down through
    Muny’s Unforgiiven, ‘In the Line of Fire,’ to Space Cowboys, and I’d think you like his take on Flags, (a touch of Bourne, Randolph) Letters, and most recently J. Edgar, Duvall, scion of a Navy family, is similarly rather blunt, I guess a Sutherland
    who hung out with Fonda, back in the day, fits that image.

    • Actually, it’s the world, as in humankind, that is being accused of “excellent foppery,” meaning foolishness, I believe – not Clint in particular. You’ll have to review BlaiseP’s post and decide what you think of it yourself.

      Didn’t see J Edgar – I like a lot of his movies, don’t think I really love any of them except maybe THE GAUNTLET, just cuz it was so unpretentious and romantic, and has such a great poster. I don’t really consider him terribly interesting as a director. Fun but obviously not great actor. Major pop culture figure, goes without saying. I thought he was already showing poor judgment to insert himself into this political campaign, and his performance led me to doubt he’s much in control of his faculties, as I suggested in the top post.

  2. I like that one, Clint was an Urban Cowboy in the Concrete Canyons of the West, J Edgar was wretched trash, I thought would like that, as Hoover is a certified bogeyman

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