The State of the Union & The Super Bowl
January 30, 2003 1:22 PM   Subscribe

The State of the Union & The Super Bowl: Two of the biggest television events of the year occurred at almost the same time in 2003, and from where I'm sitting, each seems about as relevant as the other. Both events are pageants of performance and strategy, featuring a lineup of carefully selected special guest stars, played to an audience that mostly supports one of two sides, whose preference is largely dependent on geographical and demographical influences.

So, now that both are over, for your continued entertainment, I present The Real State of the Union, as posited by the good folks of the Atlantic Monthly. If no more relevant than the other two, I hope this one's at least more enjoyable.
posted by grrarrgh00 (12 comments total)
Preemptive disclaimer: Although I couched this link in pretty jocular terms, suffice it to say that the Atlantic Monthly feature is really the point of this post, and let me express my hopes beforehand that this discussion does not devolve into a dispute of my tongue-in-cheek claim that the Super Bowl and the State of the Union are equally relevant. I was joking, people. I don't seriously believe the State of the Union address is as relevant as the Super Bowl. Come on now.

That said, I think there is much in this collection of nattily written Modest Proposals that merits good, complex discussion. What do we make of Ray Boshara's suggestion that we give $6,000 to every American at birth? Or Calabrese and MacGuineas' counterintuitive contention that we begin instructing citizens to save their money while our government engages in deficit spending? Or Karen Kornbluh's more easily supportable assertion that health care should be taken out of the hands of employers?

There's a great deal more there to be explored, like James Fallow's stellar annotation of Bush's State of the Union address, and Ted Halstead's interview about the Atlantic Monthly project.

PS: To return to my initial comments for one last swing of the axe, I think the prescience of Americans as regards football is, unfortunately, about as good as their political insight.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 1:24 PM on January 30, 2003

I'm a subscriber to the hard copy version, and there was much good reading in there. Something for everybody. I liked the American Paradox best. A very well-designed website.
posted by vito90 at 2:30 PM on January 30, 2003

Interesting. If one only read these articles, one would be seriously confused as to why so many damn people still seem to want to get into this country.

One of the more peculiar things about the US (though it certainly exists elsewhere as well) is the powerful and now permanent criticism industry. It's remarkable how many individuals, small groups, publications, indeed, entire institutions (and the Trusts and Foundations that fund them) are now exclusively devoted to the analysis of everything that is wrong with America. Hell, if our economy could start producing goods and services in the same quantity, and at the same rate, as intellectuals produce suggestions about how to "fix" America, the economy would begin booming tomorrow.
posted by MidasMulligan at 2:32 PM on January 30, 2003

My, that's cynical, Midas. I would almost think that you and I had read two different sites. First off, this is the press. It's their job to not only report things, but critique them as well. And I found this much more pro-America than your comment would indicate. Every essay is peppered with little patriotic, and startlingly positive, assessments of things: "No longer forced to choose a single racial identity, Americans are now free to identify themselves as mestizos—and with this newfound freedom we may begin to endow racial issues with the complexity and nuance they deserve." "Americans readily tolerate inequality of outcomes, accepting that it's a necessary by-product of how we reward the hard work, initiative, and creativity that underpin our much envied economy. But we should not accept inequality of opportunity." "Americans enjoy the most sophisticated medical care that money can buy." "The high-tech pioneers of the twenty-first century, unlike their agrarian predecessors, may be able to reconcile the myth of the heartland with the American dream."

So I completely fail to see the damning negativity you've found in this. The site is comprised of several cogent articles offering suggestions for improving our country. This is wrong how? Is it our duty as citizens to be constantly satisfied with what we have, blind to our inadequacies and abstinent from criticism?
posted by grrarrgh00 at 2:41 PM on January 30, 2003

I subscribe to the hard copy version as well and was very intrigued by the comments and suggestions listed herein. In particular I like the $6,000 "American stakeholder's act" the best. What better way to get money pumped into the economy, give everyone a basic (albeit limited and somewhat protected) primer in the world of compounded interest and investment, help 'level the playing field', and help people who otherwise would never be able to own 'assets'? I think it's a fabulous idea. For $10 billion a year? Sign me up as a supporter.

Midas: In principle I agree that the American-Criticism movement is in a way funny, but I fail to see what is so wrong with making intelligent critiques and providing fresh solutions to many issues that vex many people in the country.
posted by tgrundke at 2:55 PM on January 30, 2003

The James Fallow's part wasn't critical at all. Very interesting rhetorical analysis of the speech - what it said and how it said it. Reccommended reading.
posted by dhacker at 3:25 PM on January 30, 2003

I must also recommend Jaime's Fallow's analysis. Very interesting.

Now I need to return and read the rest of the articles. Hopefully they will all be as fascinating as that was.
posted by Plunge at 4:27 PM on January 30, 2003

Hell, if our economy could start producing goods and services in the same quantity, and at the same rate, as intellectuals produce suggestions about how to "fix" America, the economy would begin booming tomorrow.

If we started on the Clinton Hatin' watch, we'd be set for a millenia and building starships in orbit right now. Look at all the hate, lies and vitriol that went on back during the attempted coup of '98.
Treason totally unsupported by the vast majority of the population then, by the way.
We didn't start the fire.
posted by y2karl at 5:06 PM on January 30, 2003

I agree.. Midas, these articles contain some criticisms, but by and large I think you'd be hard pressed to classify them as critical of the country. Give them another shot.
posted by Hildago at 7:04 PM on January 30, 2003

We didn't start the fire.

Yes. Obviously Clinton is completely blameless.
posted by MidasMulligan at 7:05 PM on January 30, 2003

No, his administration was responsible for the current Bush administration policy vis-a-vis North Korea.
The Bush administration, it can be argued, with the prior foundation laid by the 1994 Republican House majority, competent pros that they all are, is largely responsible for current North Korea crisis.
posted by y2karl at 7:31 PM on January 30, 2003

MidasMulligan: as a socialist, I can appreciate that sort of communist ideology, but I have a feeling that isn't quite your angle on it. I'm curious in what direction you're taking it. Care to continue?
posted by Ptrin at 7:50 PM on January 30, 2003

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