Rendered Fat Content


Gabriël Metsu: The Herring-Seller (c. 1661 - 62)

" … rendering the whole system suicidally cynical."

By the end of his second year in office, President Joe Biden could tout one of the most successful administrations in the history of his country. On nearly every scale, he had prevailed in fixing, improving, resolving, and minimizing serious problems and longer-term inequities. Moreover, despite a cruelly opposing Senate majority, he prevailed, probably due to his superior understanding of how his government worked and in no small part due to the utter ineptness of his predecessor, who, in stark contrast with Biden's administration, produced a succession of absolute disasters. Still, Biden's Approval rating hovered around forty percent.

The previous incumbent's Approval had ranged as low as the low twenties.
Still, in both the best and the worst cases exemplified in back-to-back instances, the majority failed to Approve of either administration's actions. There might be no better evidence of the fractious nature of public opinion in the age of social media displacing actual engagement. We each have become patrician in our own manner, reclining while reviewing with considerable detachment. So much seems surreal, as if it couldn't possibly personally affect us, anyhow. It's theater, entertainment, and gladiator battles for jaded patrons. We show thumbs up or down with sublime detachment and take sides without discernment. Even my small city sports the cynical public testimony of obscene banners insisting that somebody should simply "Fuck Joe Biden," though none specify why they display such animosity. It's utterly lost on me.

Pearls before swine, I think, as I consider the potential effects of such unwarranted animosity. When the majority judges so harshly and, excuse me, unfairly, what hope should we have in the future of our once-sacred democratic processes? If we, collectively, cannot discern between shit and Shinola®, or, worse, between obviously better and clearly much worse, do we not curse ourselves to produce only worse, for who's capable of building upon better if the electorate loses its ability to determine one from the other? When opposition no longer even pretends to extend loyalty to any unifying ideals, it can only vilify whatever deals their leader, duly elected to represent their interests, might make in their best interests. Perhaps that sorry preceding incumbent, in his remarkable ineptness, spoiled the scales, which now fail to register when dealing with weighty matters. Everything becomes trivial.

Success and Approval seem tenuous partners. One need not necessarily pander to Approval to achieve remarkable Success, but Approval sure seems to help support the whole process. I'm reminded of the old saw about trees falling in forests without witnesses and the eternally unresolvable question of whether any noise results. Of course, a tree falling without anyone hearing it fall must still make noise, though there's no proving this point to anyone requiring eye-witness verification. Due to an unwarranted lack of public support, the resulting perspective narrowing restricts repeating otherwise Successful performances. Do we hold ourselves hostage to wholly unreasonable expectations? Fuck Joe Biden, indeed, for we seem to have mistaken our leader for our whipping boy, our hopes for our inevitable debasement. The former incumbent insisted that he was a disrupter. Yet, even with an Approval rating hovering in the lower twenties, he seems to have been Successful in rendering the whole system suicidally cynical. Pray for us and for Joe Biden.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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