January 25, 2009

I Never Thought I'd Say Anything Good About Frank Rich

I generally refer to the man as "the insufferable Frank Rich." I despise his smug, self-satisfied East Coast liberal snobbery and his obsession with homosexuality.

However, this week he is right. He points to the sober tone of Pres. Obama's inaugural speech and the severity of the crisis we face. Rich says it's wrong to blame our woes simply upon the incompetence or misguided policies of W. Rather, our problems are deep in our culture and require a collective rethinking.
This debt-ridden national binge of greed and irresponsibility washed over our culture not just through the Marie Antoinette antics of a Schwarzman and a Thain but in mass forms of conspicuous consumption and entertainment. Cable networks like Bravo, A&E, TLC and HGTV produced an avalanche of creepy programming catering to the decade’s housing bubble alone — an orgiastic genre that might be called Subprime Pornography. Some of the series — “Flip This House,” “Flip That House,” “Sell This House,” “My House Is Worth What?” — still play on even as more and more house owners are being flipped into destitute homelessness.

The austerity of Obama’s Inaugural Address seemed a tonal corrective to the glitz and the glut. The speech was, as my friend Jack Viertel, a theater producer, put it, “stoic, stern, crafted in slabs of granite, a slimmed-down sinewy thing entirely evolved away from the kind of Pre-Raphaelite style of his earlier oration.” Some of the same critics who once accused Obama of sounding too much like a wimpy purveyor of Kumbaya now faulted him for not rebooting those golden oldies of the campaign trail as he took his oath. But he is no longer campaigning, and the moment for stadium cheers has passed.
I can't quarrel with the man.

One good column does not earn Rich a place on my Strange New Respect list. But for once the man staggered into the truth.

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