Who’s looking out for our country?

United we stand, divided we fall….

Peggy Noonan at the Wall Street Journal describes a critical flaw in the polarized, media-driven two party system in the United States. Excerpts below.

Link: The Case for Getting off Base – WSJ.com.

Both conservative media and liberal media are alike in that they have to keep the ratings up, or the numbers up, or the hits. If they lose audience, they can lose everything from clout to ad revenue. Because they have to keep the numbers up, they have to keep it hot, which actually has some effect on the national conversation. The mainstream media is only too happy to headline it when a radio talker says Sonia Sotomayor is a dope. The radio talker may be doing it to play to his base, but the mainstream media does it to show that Republicans are mean, thick and angry.

On left and right, on cable and radio, political hosts see gain in hyping the story, agitating and exciting their listeners. All of this creates a circular, self-enclosed world in which it gets hotter and hotter and tighter and tighter. (I remember when the liberals of the Democratic Party were like this, in the '80s. They talked only to themselves, and reinforced each other's views. It took them years to recover.)

Must the Obama administration micromanage General Motors, institute a new health-care system, and institute a new energy regime? Must they mow down the opposition, shutting them out of the development of important bills? Well, the base likes this.

Can the radio host or the freelance policy maker calm down, become less polar and more thoughtful (yawn)? That would leave his base turning the dial and maybe going elsewhere. Can the big left-wing and right-wing Web sites commit apostasy, rethink issues? In general, bases don't like that.

Everyone is looking to the base, the sliver, their piece of the pie, their slice of the demo. You wonder sometimes as you watch: Who's looking out for the country?

Another Explanation for the Financial Crisis

Peggy Noonan at the Wall Street Journal looks at the people and their mindset to explain the irrational risk taking.

Link: There's No Pill for This Kind of Depression – WSJ.com.

The sale of antidepressants and antianxiety drugs is widespread. In New York their use became common after 9/11. It continued through and, I hypothesize, may have contributed to, the high-flying, wildly imprudent Wall Street of the '00s. We look for reasons for the crash and there are many, but I wonder if Xanax, Zoloft and Klonopin, when taken by investment bankers, lessened what might have been normal, prudent anxiety, or helped confuse prudent anxiety with baseless, free-floating fear. Maybe Wall Street was high as a kite and didn't notice. Maybe that would explain Bear Sterns, and Merrill, and Citi.

Russia in Denial about Election

Peggy Noonan at WSJ.com describes how a not-so-free press supports the ruling power. Denial can be very revealing.

Link: 'At Least Bush Kept Us Safe' – WSJ.com.

The Russian newspapers had generally played down Mr. Obama's victory, she said, because it got in the way of the establishment line: that the corrupt American democracy is composed of two warring family machines that have the system wired and controlled with the help of their corporate oligarch cronies. It's not a real democracy but a pretend democracy, and a hypocritical one. This helps the Russians rationalize and excuse their infirm hold on democratic ways and manners. And then the black man from Chicago with no longtime machine or money is elected . . .

So the Russian press muted its coverage. Mr. Obama's victory upset their story line. They have to think up a new one now. They will.