Monday, as I stomached another lunch in a brown-bag economy, I flipped on CNN to catch up on the latest. As is often the case with my late lunches, I came face to face with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs giving a press briefing, which centered around questions about the AIG bonuses.
Bonuses? The origin of "bonus," as stipulated by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is a Latin word literally translated to mean "good." I may be from Texas, where we'd rather spend money on hog-hunting and chasing voter impersonation windmills than education or unemployment benefits, but I don't think it takes an abacus for even the most inept of students to determine that things, decidedly, are not bonus.
As I watched White House reporters like Jake Tapper and Ed Henry chase down answers from Gibbs, I couldn't help but feel a certain amount of shared outrage between myself and the reporters. And two things occurred to me: since when did I start feeling connected to journalists through my rage and since when did this become a common occurrence? For eight years, I sat in various places watching the news -- apartments, horse ranches, hotel rooms, bars -- and never once felt like a single reporter cared half as much as I did.
Now maybe that's not true; they're professionals not shoe-throwers, after all. But I can't help but feel that the questions today are not asked just to meet a deadline tomorrow. These questions are for resurrecting livelihoods. Jobs and ratings. Twitter followers and Facebook friends. Reporters are, like the rest of us still with jobs, singing for their suppers. Their questions matter. "Evidence" never found a weapon of mass destruction, and the go-along-to-get-along attitudes haven't been helping anyone get along, including the newspapers.
There's another Latin word we can all stand to remember -- onus, a burden; a disagreeable necessity. The onus is on all of us. As it is with AIG and their bonuses, it is with reporters and their talking heads. It is with Americans and their Top Models. This economy is our disagreeable burden. It is with all of us.
If it takes a hard reset on this economy to put our government back on the defensive and keep them there, then I'm for it. I want to complain how the media let the Bush administration off so many hooks so many times that they were no longer were able to catch him. But instead I'm going to say that the renewed national scrutiny will be good for Obama.
And if we work at it, and remember that the onus is upon each of us, then perhaps things will be good again.