Around here, the police call it "rubbernecking", and you've seen it too: six-car pileup in the far lane, doofus driving by goes through some seriously-contorting neck-craning to get a good look at the carnage, and suddenly it's a seven-car pileup. Needless to say, the fellows in blue are not thrilled with this sort of thing, but it's never going to go away it's as American as baseball, apple pie, and the remains of a '91 Chevy being dragged onto a tow-hook. As a people, we love it.

This same sort of mass-market Schadenfreude has given us such ineffable delights as Monster Truck competitions, the Jerry Springer show, and, you guessed it, the House impeachment hearings. Of course, the putative gravity of the situation doesn't make it any less of a farce; the spectacle of the Keystone Kongress scurrying about pretending to be statesmen is far more embarrassing to the rest of the world than anything "inappropriate" the President admits to having done. Still, the news vendors dare not turn their attention elsewhere; while the public piously claims not to be interested in the sordid details, the moment your favorite news source switches to something comparatively important, the public responds by switching to the Olsen Twins. Rubbernecking by remote control! Only in America.

So the sound and the fury will go on in Washington, signifying as much as it ever does, and I, for one, hope they keep on bickering for at least four more weeks. While it won't do anything to stop the incessant TV campaign ads, keeping these guys out of the physical reach of the electorate is probably good for their health, and it certainly will help the air quality for the rest of us.

The Vent

9 October 1998

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 Copyright © 1998 by Charles G. Hill