The shifting narrative

I expect conservatives will be denouncing this article as yet another example of America-hating liberal bias, yadda yadda yadda. What’s actually interesting is that the paper of record is tentatively beginning to acknowledge reality: people in this country, or at least some significant percentage thereof, understand what a colossal clusterfuck the Bush administration has been.

Now, Americans feel a loss of autonomy, in their own lives and in the nation. Their politics are driven by the powerlessness they feel to control their financial well-being, their safety, their environment, their health and the country’s borders. They question whether each generation will continue to ascend the economic ladder. That the political system seems so impotent only deepens their frustration and their insistence on results.

As she considers this campaign, Susan C. Powell, a 47-year-old training consultant who lives in a Kansas City suburb, said that what she feels is not so much hopelessness as doom.

“I know plenty of people who are doing worse than they were,” Ms. Powell said, “and nobody’s helping them out. People’s incomes are not keeping pace with inflation. People can’t afford their homes. People in their 30s and 40s, middle-income, and they don’t have jobs they can count on or access to health care. How can we say that we’re the greatest country on earth and essentially have the walking wounded?”

You almost have to feel sorry for the talk-radio apologists these days — it can’t be easy knowing you have to get up each day and find a way to put a happy face on corporate greed and political corruption and incompetence, when the consequences of same are painfully evident to people in their daily lives. Invocations of the long waits and bureaucracies of socialized medicine will eventually ring hollow to anyone who’s ever dealt with the long waits and bureaucracies of our own free market health system. Not to mention the people who can’t even find an affordable insurance plan, in this peculiar system of ours, in which availability of health care is inexplicably linked to employment status.

Then again, Republicans are often masterful at convincing people to vote against their own best interests, and Democrats are quite talented at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. As the line in “The Usual Suspects” goes, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing people he didn’t exist.