Friday, July 30, 2004

"Like Hamsters in an Oriental Massage Parlor..."

From Bill Bonner at  The Daily Reckoning

"...Let's face it, dear reader, no matter who wins in November, we are losers all of us, in for another quadrienne of grief and buffoonery.

One of the wonders of modern politics is this frequently posed question: how is it possible that in a nation of 293,845,317 people, the best we can do for an election is a contest between George W. Bush and John Kerry? Among the multitudes of able-bodied, native-born citizens there must be many thousands of reasonable intelligence and standard morals. Some must even be above average in both qualities. And a few are surely exceptional. Even if you exclude the lawyers and career politicians as unfit on moral grounds you still have millions to choose from.

Yet, Americans have chosen as their champions two of the least attractive homo sapiens since Tyson faced McNeeley. It is as if a man had his choice of the finest houses of Hollywood or the Hamptons...yet decided to move into a dank cave and sleep on a bed of tick-infested wet straw...

...The race in November has turned out to be a classic contest between a fool and a knave; we're not quite sure which is which. On the one hand, George W. Bush - scion of a rich, New England family, with the most powerful connections in the nation, a Yale graduate, Skull & Bones member and Harvard MBA - pretends to be a dumb cowboy who just follows his instincts. On the other, John Kerry - also from Yale, also a Skull & Bones member, with a billionaire wife,
fabulous homes all over the place, and a 'go along' attitude to practically every piece of pork-barrel legislation ever served up in Washington - pretends to be a 'man of the people' determined to restore justice to the tax system.

Both the men, and the process that put them where they are, are frauds. But Americans love fraud and self-delusion. They take up one flim-flam after another as if they were free drinks. They keep at it until their legs buckle.

The American, wrote Daniel Boorstin in "The Image" (1962), "lives in a world where fantasy is more real than reality, where the image has more dignity than its original. We hardly dare face our bewilderment, because our ambiguous experience is so pleasantly iridescent, the solace of belief in the contrived reality is so thoroughly real."

George W. Bush is president for an obvious and dreary reason: he doesn't seem to think enough to worry people. In the early years of the 21st century, anno domini, America seems especially bent towards self-deception. The last thing we want is a leader who will jeopardize it. What the two candidates have in common is that neither threatens America's happy delusions. One pretends he is not smart enough to see them; the other is plainly not dumb enough to disturb them.

But when Americans go to the polls in November, they will go like hamsters into an oriental massage parlor. They have no idea who the people are, what they are doing, nor what any
of it means. Their candidates are imposters. Their platforms are elaborate lies. And their actual programs are both incomprehensible and unforeseeable to the poor schmucks who enter the polling booths.

We have no interest in politics here at the Daily Reckoning, except insofar as it helps us understand markets. Both are expressions of mob psychology, as near as we can tell. A man
on his own, driving down the road, will usually make the right decisions and more often than not end up where he intends to go. But put him in the great mass of voters or investors, and all his good sense seems to disappear out the window like a cigarette butt. All of a sudden he presses
down the accelerator and heads for the nearest brick wall.

Likewise, a man on his owns knows that he is best advised to leave his dumbbell neighbors alone. But let him join a political party, and he fantasizes that he has the right and the power to tell everyone on the block what to do.

The depressing spectacle in Boston shouldn't surprise anyone. The whole nation is enjoying a make-believe world. No one wants to break the spell."

Your correspondent,
Bill Bonner
The Daily Reckoning

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