a jim jividen blog

Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown, February 7-13, 2010

Dear Internet,

Hi.  I'm Jim and this is the 14th issue of the Tendown, your weekly look at the best cultural happenings of the previous seven days; Last Week, I pit the 44 Super Bowls against their corresponding 44 US Presidents.  Most shocking result - a victory for Nixon, which even I didn't see coming.  It was the longest and most productive (not like a cough, but like - look how much product there is, which I picture myself saying while wearing a paper hat and a nametag and smiling fearfully at a supervisor) Tendown thusfar.  I like Tendown, it's the opposite of proven blog technique (multiple little posts as opposed to one gelatinous one) but I prefer to write in essay form.  I keep threatening myself to move back to dialogue based pieces, which is in my wheelhouse (the most recent gimmick, used in the 2006-7 versions of my online career, was that I'd have debates with a voice in my head).  The value is that it's more entertaining than my essay writing, as if I have any real writing strength its in a 2 man rhythm (that's what she said; see, I told you I was funny!) but that requires a lack of self-censorship just not in keeping with my attempt to at least marginally be a public intellectual; I enjoy the occasional wildly off color reference, but I'm a soon to be 40 year old college instructor with a +1 corporate health insurance plan; it not only seems imprudent to make the same types of sketch comedy jokes I wrote two decades ago, its maybe a little creepy.

Funny.  But maybe a little creepy.  That's me and this is the best thing that happened over the past week: 




First: The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations.
If there was ever a proof required of the "a picture is worth a thousand words" aphorism, here you go.

For all the words that have been written (and the many, many more that will be) about The Decline and Fall of the American Empire - none is as clarifying as this demonstration that, in 2010, in the middle of two unending, unwinnable wars and the worst economy in over a half century, the presumptive leader of the Republican Party has the intellectual horsepower and academic temperament of a tenth grader who's sleeping through American history.

 David Broder wrote this week about her "pitch perfect populism."  Joe Klein wrote this week about the "mystic chords" that she strikes.  Frank Rich wrote this week about her message gaining traction.

None of these pieces really argue that she's qualified to be President or that her ideas will alter the trajectory of what appears to be an inexorable slide.  Instead, the throughline seems to be that a woman who needs to write "lift American spirit" on her hand to remember that very nuanced policy point is to whom the American electorate is gravitating.  (And here's the important point).  Not in spite of actions like this but because of them.  The argument made this week was that who we want is a woman who writes notes on her hand. 

We like her because she's dumb.  That's the argument.  We like Sarah Palin because she's dumb. 

On this week's Office, Michael Scott said "sometimes the smartest people don't think at all."  Which sounds like something that might be slipped into one of Sarah Palin's speeches.

Not that we'd know that from her upcoming Florida appearances, because the media is barred from attending.

Of all the baseless charges Rush aims at Obama, the idea that he's not bright is the one where I most wonder how even his most ardent devotees think he's not full of crap:

I think this is the first time in his life that there's not a professor around to turn his C into an A, or to write the law review article for him he can't write. He is totally exposed. There is nobody to make it better. I think he's been covered for, all his life.

Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law....writes crib notes on her hand.  Okay.

Emerson said "the mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself." 

Perhaps that, and not the high fructose corn syrup, is the cause of our obesity epidemic. 


That's the best thing that happened this week.  After the jump - the rest of the Tendown!