April 6, 2005

News As Spectacle: Pope 24/7


9:52am Bush says Pope was a great man.  10:19am Bush calls Pope a ‘champion of freedom.’ 11:23am Bush says “A good and faithful servant of God has been called home.”  12:03pm  Bush Calls Pope ‘An Inspiration to Us All.’ 1:15pm Bush: Pope “champion of peace and freedom.” 1:45pm Pope ‘a champion of human dignity — Bush.  2:37pm Bush says: ‘Pope called for culture of life.’

It’s ironic the Republican’s are scheming how to remove filibuster power from the minority party in the Senate.  Just like the way Reagan’s death turned into a three-day media filibuster by the Republicans, this Pope-thing has more than assumed the same characteristic. 

In the meantime, what better opportunity for our Flockmaster-in-Chief to apply more white-out to the line between church and state.  Just look at him, having a “rapture moment” on national TV, standing between the presidential seal and the American flag.  How touching to experience the dew-eyed First Congregant — alongside the first lady — having the opportunity to, once again, sermonize about faithful servants and witnessing and “dignity of human life” and “culture of life” and “providential Constitutions” and shepards and blessings and thrones and priests and God and sons.

If nothing else, this holy week gives us the chance to observe how the radical right can clean our secular clock by claiming anything and everything as sacred.  And, in the subsequent “mandatory observance time,” they deaden us with ritual; reschedule “less conducive” activity to more expedient times;  and, generally continue operating free of the rules, under the cover of spectacle, ceremony and an extra helping of piety.

So, here we are in another “grace period.” 

And, I can already hear the recrimination in my own head: My God, the Pope just died.  It could be another 27 years before they lose another one.  And what, we pagan liberals can’t spare one week of media time!  Are we really so petty as to complain if Paula Zahn choses to profile the Christian conversion of Robert Novak, and then Larry King follows with an interview of Christian-convert Jane Fonda?  I mean, are you really going to whine just because they hobbled Congress for a week, and sent a small boat load of Catholic Senators (mostly Democrats, by the way) off to Rome!  Like someone who wouldn’t stop at the first sound of an ambulance, or would refuse to pull over for a funeral procession, who do I think I am?

So, God bless Bush, Frist and DeLay.  The right wing has perfected the orgy of remembrance and the art of “perpetual sanctity.” 

…And we can’t say anything about it.

(image: Jason Reed/Reuters/Corbis)

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Michael Shaw
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