It’s been a popular lament amongst the nation’s columnists and talking heads that these past 7 and a half years have been a long strange trip – we suffer a catastrophic terrorist attack in two major cities on the same day, manage to blow all of the international goodwill engendered by that terrorist attack, the Vice President basically sets up a shadow government and does all kinds of shit with everything from intelligence agencies to land use laws, the nation’s first MBA president and his party’s Congress spend so recklessly that our military and budget are stretched too thin, the dollar plummeted in value, and then a bunch of greedy Wharton bastards on Wall Street did something weird with mortgages and in so doing launched a bowling ball from a sling right into the economy’s balls, leaving it on its knees and gasping pathetically.
And I can’t say I entirely disagree, but there was one thing, one incident that scared me when it happened and never really stopped scaring me, and I had to actively force myself to just not think about it anymore. Because you can fix an economy. You can fix Iraq (right?). You can reconstitute the military. Cheney has to leave so you can, uh…fix all that stuff that he did (right??). But when you find that your country is mobilized not by a faltering economy, not by the war in Iraq, not by a Vice President committing what are probably impeachable offenses, but a half-second clip of boob during the Super Bowl halftime show, man, how the hell can you reasonably expect all that stuff will get done?
Did your kids see this? Sorry, they’re gay terrorists now.
I can’t really think of anything else that made the entire country just look stupid. People like to act like Iraq was this catastrophic blunder, but let’s not forget that for all the talk of Cheney and his orcs “stovepiping” intelligence and Rumsfeld’s idiotic “modern army” occupation plan, Saddam Hussein had a track record of exactly the stuff we used as a justification for war. It’s not like we framed Nelson Mandela.
But the way we absolutely went out of our minds when Janet Jackson’s breast popped out, the rest of the world must have looked at us like “What are they, a bunch of 10 year-olds? Puritanical 10-year olds?” Usually I’m the first guy to throw a star-spangled middle finger at the international community, but when they’re mocking us with good reason, man, that’s embarrassing. And that whole Super Bowl fiasco gave them plenty of good reason.
That’s why I feel all warm inside about the ruling that came down yesterday from the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals that reversed the indecency penalty levied against CBS by the Federal Communications Commission. Don’t get me wrong – if I had kids, I’m sure I wouldn’t be thrilled about trying to watch a game with them where men beat the living hell out of each other and get paid salaries that exceed those of teachers, firemen, and most doctors and have the purity of the moment ruined when Janet Jackson’s boob goes rogue. But I was pretty pissed when the country failed to act even a little adult about it, and the media acted like it was a newsworthy event on the order of the Kennedy assassination, and then the FCC treated CBS like they ran a 30-minute NAMBLA infomercial instead of a Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake duet.
So thank you, Third Circuit Court of Appeals, for restoring just a little of my faith in our public institutions. And especially for using some of my favorite scolding words, “arbitrary and capricious,” when doing so.