The enormous energy extraction from Africa to the Northeastern US took a rather different form this week. As we struggle to grow an economy in Sandy's oil, and grapple with the impossibility of building a cohesive country around the disintegrating thesis of every man and woman for themselves, under-grid with Family values that emphasize My family over yours, I think of David Frost's 1977 interview with Richard Nixon.
In it, Nixon's response to Frost's question as to why he didn't release the Watergate tapes sooner, was that he had to protect his cronies from prosecution. That answer was to be expected. In fact, it's what we really already knew. No. It was the lack of any response from his interviewer that I found shocking.
This attitude of carefully not reacting to the interviewee's responses has only gotten worse, as evidenced by the Republican debates, in which Newt Gingrich warned his fellow republicans that the press was trying to "trick" them into publicly arguing with one another. I like to think that had I been the moderator, I would have gently chided Richgringo with the question, "You do realize what is meant by "debate", right?"
But in the case of David Frost in 1977, it was a relatively new phenomena: Richard Nixon could sit there and tell him that despite his sworn oath to uphold the Constitution, he can unabashedly state that he feels justified in obstructing justice and withholding evidence from a federal investigation because his "friends" might come under closer scrutiny and proven guilty of the crimes they committed on his behalf. But there is no challenge from Frost, no reaction to the fact that the President of the US casually took an oath of office which meant nothing whatsoever to him. Hiding the crimes of his cronies meant more to him than either upholding the Constitution or putting the good of the country ahead of their squalid interests. So lying under oath, a criminal act for the Chief Executive no less than for any other citizen, wasn't even a consideration. Something to be dismissed with a shrug of the shoulders.
This was the beginning of the US showing its true colors to the entire world. Turning its face to the full glare of the TV lights, what lay exposed was a charnel-house, a heap of pus and blood, little more than an unsavory shovelful of putrid flesh. Since then the pustules have infected the entire body politic, spreading to the whole organism, as one pock touches the next, resulting in a shapeless pulp, leaving us a government whose face is now but a bubbling purulence that looks like a dark, decaying hole.
Onto this withered and sunken garbage heap we've thrown our Family Values to replace the lost integrity of even a pretense that any of our National institutions really stand for what they profess to. But by infecting the entire system with a desperate cynicism not only leads to the abandonment of all the values necessary to nurture and sustain a Democracy, but eases their replacement with the self-destructive mantra of the winner-take-all triumphalism of dog-eat-dog capitalism that tears the throat out of any quaint notions such as compassion and brotherhood. This leaves a self-proclaimed Christian nation that repudiates all the most important values of the very man it professes to believe in.
So now, with the prospect of Christie's chastised visage before us (he told one of the city's in Sandy's path that they were on their own, because not all of its citizens obeyed his order to evacuate), that Section of the country that has championed itself as the avatar of creative destruction, telling the rest of us to shut up and suck it up while they used our retirement funds to close down industry after industry and ship the country's productive capacity an ocean away to a continent where Wall St. cronies wouldn't have to be bothered by demands for such niceties as drinkable water, breathable air, medical care, or pensions, now that it is faced with the reality of its own destruction, has all of a sudden changed its tune. Now the rest of the country's expected to come to its rescue (which we will). So-called Society that thinks "There's no such thing as society", and the Community that has ravaged communities for sport and profit, will now avail itself of the humanity of those it heaps derision onto for having any, will be relieved to find that their abandonment of responsibility hasn't led us to the abandonment of ours for them.
May we all enjoy the feeling while it lasts. Because we may just end up faced with the reality that when one small corner of a nation sucks the productivity and resources from the rest of it, the spirit may be willing, but you just can't get blood from a stone ... especially one that's been cracked, smacked and fracked.