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Jon Robin Baitz Headshot

The Music of Anna-Nicole

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Watching Wolf and Anderson and Dianne, et-al, dance clumsily to the music of Anna Nicole Smith reminds me of the Gary Condit days of 2001, before the towers fell. There is a sea-sick disquiet about it, as though even the anchors now know that at a certain level, the queasy complicity with inattention is fatal. As though they realize that this leads to true surprise when the "breaking news" is actually our worst dreams come true. And the next thing you know, you're watching the president we deserve continue reading The Pet Goat, as thousands burn.

I thought about this last week, when David Geffen impishly lit a match which both revealed perfectly the darkness of the Clinton cave, while at the same time igniting a small fire-storm of tsk-tsking in the media about how damn early it was in the election season to "lose civility". Actually, it's a perfect time to drop the pretense of civility. This primary season should be a knife-fight, a back-alley brawl, and brutal, and it should happen sooner rather than later, because if history is repeating itself, and this is the Spring of Anna-Nicole, like the Summer of Condit, then I hate to see what happens when the worm turns.

Just to state the very obvious, so it looks a little like a shopping list of factors leading to the next perfect storm -- whoever is the next president of this falling nation is going to have to get us out of Iraq while figuring out a way to deal with Iran that somehow incorporates the opinions of the rest of the world, whilst also facing global warming, massive debt, un-insured children, while re-igniting peace talks between Israel and all those who would destroy her and dealing with our immigration situation. We don't know who that person is yet, no matter how exhilarating Obama is, or how impressed we were with Rudy on September 11th, or how much we long for The Return of Gore and the re-ignition of Edwards. We don't know who will lead us through this, the dark hour before an even darker American dawn. And a polite primary season is no way to find out. It's not too soon for passions and fury. The next time that some meaningless news-cycle about the tragic life of some hapless celebrity is interrupted by the next inevitable-unimaginable, we don't want to be a nation grown so incapacitated by the hypnosis of permanent distraction that it won't matter whether the person in the oval office is reading My Pet Goat or Plutarch. The whole damn country should all be as loud and matter-of-fact as Geffen right now, and yell our fears as loud as we bloody well can.