The Greatest Show on Earth

Rick Moran
Walter Russell Meade on political junkies:

Now as an amusement there's nothing wrong with tunneling into the the delicious minutiae of the presidential campaign and feasting on all the thrills and spills that it provides. Why shouldn't we enjoy what politics provides? If people want to amuse themselves by reading blow by blow Veep speculation or disputes over crowd size at summertime political events, that's a legitimate personal choice and a harmless hobby. Some people build model airplanes, some people follow rock bands, some people obsess about presidential campaigns. Humanity was not made to work all the time; innocent amusements are part of what life is about.

But following politics in this sense isn't a serious pursuit, anymore than being a fanatical hockey fan or a Civil War re-enactor is a serious pursuit. And while most hobbyists and sports fans are realistic about the value of their fixations, politics fans often labor under the delusion that they are being serious and engaged when they are in fact goofing off. Election coverage often feeds this delusion, both because it is good business for the media to flatter its customers and because many pundits and reporters themselves get so caught up in the chase that they lose perspective on the inconsequential nature of so much of what they cover and write.

I hate to be the cranky voice of dissent here, but cluttering ones memory with ephemeral trivia while basking in the adrenalin rush caused by meaningless events is not the characteristic activity of a superior mind. People who follow politics incessantly and argue heatedly about it at every opportunity may and often do think they are more intelligent and more public spirited than people who have that kind of interest in baseball or quilting; that belief marks a failure to understand how politics and power work. (Like so many vices it is excusable in the young and can even be a sign of budding promise; but like most vices it grows progressively less attractive as the years advance.)

I hate to say it, but he's absolutely right. There are few things more boring and annoying than talking to someone who can't shut up about politics. Being well informed is a citizen's obligation, but can't you do it without discussing the minutia of the presidential campaign? I don't care what Obama said about anything, nor am I interested in Romney's latest gaffe.

My greatest passions these days are saved for the White Sox and Bears. I write about politics as a necessary part of my job, but frankly, I'd rather write about cats. They are far more attractive and usually make more sense than any politician.


Walter Russell Meade on political junkies:

Now as an amusement there's nothing wrong with tunneling into the the delicious minutiae of the presidential campaign and feasting on all the thrills and spills that it provides. Why shouldn't we enjoy what politics provides? If people want to amuse themselves by reading blow by blow Veep speculation or disputes over crowd size at summertime political events, that's a legitimate personal choice and a harmless hobby. Some people build model airplanes, some people follow rock bands, some people obsess about presidential campaigns. Humanity was not made to work all the time; innocent amusements are part of what life is about.

But following politics in this sense isn't a serious pursuit, anymore than being a fanatical hockey fan or a Civil War re-enactor is a serious pursuit. And while most hobbyists and sports fans are realistic about the value of their fixations, politics fans often labor under the delusion that they are being serious and engaged when they are in fact goofing off. Election coverage often feeds this delusion, both because it is good business for the media to flatter its customers and because many pundits and reporters themselves get so caught up in the chase that they lose perspective on the inconsequential nature of so much of what they cover and write.

I hate to be the cranky voice of dissent here, but cluttering ones memory with ephemeral trivia while basking in the adrenalin rush caused by meaningless events is not the characteristic activity of a superior mind. People who follow politics incessantly and argue heatedly about it at every opportunity may and often do think they are more intelligent and more public spirited than people who have that kind of interest in baseball or quilting; that belief marks a failure to understand how politics and power work. (Like so many vices it is excusable in the young and can even be a sign of budding promise; but like most vices it grows progressively less attractive as the years advance.)

I hate to say it, but he's absolutely right. There are few things more boring and annoying than talking to someone who can't shut up about politics. Being well informed is a citizen's obligation, but can't you do it without discussing the minutia of the presidential campaign? I don't care what Obama said about anything, nor am I interested in Romney's latest gaffe.

My greatest passions these days are saved for the White Sox and Bears. I write about politics as a necessary part of my job, but frankly, I'd rather write about cats. They are far more attractive and usually make more sense than any politician.