Friday, December 02, 2005

The voice of the people is the voice of dog

I've been watching a lot of the early seasons of The West Wing this past week. It's my last week of unemployment, so I'm relaxing in front of my new tv watching some of the best tv writing ever done. Seriously. Aaron Sorkin, the series creator and writer, is so good in the first two seasons of the show that I want to give up. Good writing, it is said, can inspire the same in others. Unless it's so good that it makes you want to cry. That's what Sorkin did in those first two seasons. It's painfully beautiful writing. I could take the equivilent of writing steroids and not come close to what he did there.

There's a bit in the first season where Josh and Joey are having an arguement and Josh misunderstands something Joey is signing (Joey is a pollster who happens to be deaf. Josh is deputy chief of staff, for those who never watch the show). Instead of "The voice of the people is the voice of God", well, he accidentally turns God into a dog. It's a quick laugh and the writing quickly snaps onto something else.

But I guess four days into the election the people's voice isn't feeling very godly. It is, in fact, giving me a headache, much in the same way a howling dog does.

One good thing about being in Iqaluit is that I don't have to listen VOCM's open line shows. Under the best of circumstances I didn't like them. During elections, I loathe them. They were an insult to any reasonable person's intelligence. Everyone knows the shows become flooded with politicians and their hacks. So why would you bother to listen? I wanted to pitch the radio out the window.

I think I'm beginning to feel the same way about political blogs. In their defence, I guess it's a good thing to be passionate and involved in politics. Too few are. But who are they talking to? Because I honestly don't know. Too many of the Conservative blogs just bash the Liberals, there is nothing good the Liberals can do and anyone who disagrees with them is wrong. And vice versa, of course.

But the level of the debate - it terms of its nastiness, technical jargon, smugness and spin - makes it utterly worthless to anyone who is undecided. Both sides seem determined to do little more than yell at the other. I honestly don't know who they're trying to convince. Because no sane person would read them hoping to get an idea of who to vote for.

I like Ed and Liam, but I don't know how much longer I'll keep reading their blogs. I'm getting a headache. It's not a debate on which party and ideas are best to run's about winning points, dragging up old grudges and having bragging right at the end.

It is, and I say this with respect to the intelligence of both men, boring as hell.

I don't know who I'm voting for yet. I'll figure it out. I've got plenty of time. But I really doubt I'll be finding any answers in the blogosphere. So I think I'll keep watching the West Wing for the next few weeks. Sure, it's U.S. politics and not Canadian. Sure, it's biased. But the writing is stunning, passionate and I never feel like I'm having my intelligence insulted or that I'm being yelled at.

Find me some of that writing in Canada and I'll listen. Until then, the next time I check the blogosphere for answers, I'd best take some asprin first.

Last 5 on iPod
1. The engine driver - The Decemberists (Picaresque)
2. Runaway - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies (Blow in the Wind)
3. Bottomless pit - Colleen Power (Lucky You Are)
4. Live it up - Bowling For Soup (Goes to the Movies)
5. She's got her ticket - Tracy Chapman (Collection)


Jason Bartlett said...

I picked up Season 3 of the West Wing over here and despite the fact I proably like season 2 more because I think that is when I started to watch for me Season Three has some of the best moments, the "Leo" Episode, Bruno, the whole tension of the apology episodes and of course the line from Toby- "Where am I from I'm from the United States of Suck my ....

Ed Hollett said...

In my own defence, at least I can say that I have yet to resort to multiple font sizes, italics and godawful imagry/animations.

The audience for my blog? Wide and varied. Some of the stuff is a simple commentary on stuff heard during the day - like the Norm Doyle thing this morning, or the GST thing and the cup of Tim's.

Some stuff, like the synopsis of the SES poll and the Layton comments, are just short reports for people who check for information.

"Brave soldier Hearn" (and the polling comments over the past few days are just a way to remind people of stuff likely to have been forgotten but which is extremely relevent in helping to cut through the abbreviated context some people are using to frame their own stories.

Too bad more reporters aren't able to cut through the crap and do a chunk of what I have been trying to do - i.e. not follow the herd.

"Political" doesn't always mean "mindlessly partisan". And all "political" blogs are not the same.

His Nibs said...

I've not been able to get into West Wing, even though every episode I've caught was quite well done. When I want political machinations, I turn to Da Vinci's Inquest, now Da Vinci's City Hall. I suppose it's the Canadian equivilent of the West Wing, but with more machiavelli tossed into the mix.

As for political fatigue, I think most people who pay attention have figured out that politicians and their flacks don't say very much of consequence in the press. It's all about soundbites and slinging dirt. I'd love to hear one party leader say about another "he's a really nice guy, who has someting interesting to say, and I love his idea to [insert innovative policy here]". It'll never happen.

Sadly, I think they are too wrapped up in partisanship to do the Canadian public any good through public discourse, even if the backroom decisions among themselves make sense.

I occasionally look at 'political blogs' north and south of the border. They tend to be whiny & cynical. Usually very intelligent, but with huge blinders when it comes to suggesting specific, well justified solutions to political problems - even though they are compulsive in their documenting every bit of stupidity they can find about their political opponent.

Took a look at your blog, Ed. I don't get the 'motto' of The Sir Robert Bond Papers (The Why Incision on Politics and the News Media), but the content seems interesting. Still, there's only so much undiluted politics a reader can take, especially when there's a mostly-justified perception this sort of punditry doesn't make any difference.

BTW, Ed, did you get permission to copy in its entirety, the news story: "Wells comes up dry
By Terry Roberts - The Telegram." Those things tend to be copyrighted, because professional writers need to eat too.

Liam O'Brien said...

There is no defence for what Ed and I have been doing except that details matter to us. I won't engage in more attacks here. . . especially not on style . . . style is a matter for stylists to talk about. I'll gladly admit it means nothing to me.

I'd just say "sorry" that it's come to the point where Neither Ed or myself will let things slide when one says something the other believes to be a lie or gross misrepresentation. It gets to be a headache for all concerned.

If the vitriol turns down at some point, it may be useful to view both of our blogs when we disagree. . . you usually get to hear some half decent arguments on both sides of an issue. . . granted mine will usually have more typos ;-)

And besides, sometimes light-hearted digs are a big part of what makes NL politics less mind-numbing than the upalong counterparts!