Analysis: Eight years of fake news
At a dinner in Washington earlier this week—one packed with well-meaning folks who really, really wanted this year’s election to have gone the other way—I heard a speaker cite Elizabeth Bishop’s One Art by way of consoling the audience. “The art of losing isn’t hard to master,” the poem famously begins. The speaker hastened to remind the room that, later in the poem, we are informed numerous times that losing “is no disaster.” With that in mind, those who didn’t like the election’s result should buck up and dive back into the fight, and so forth.
It didn’t seem like the time or place for me to point out that the poem’s declarations that losing isn’t a disaster are clearly ironic. It also didn’t seem the time to note that among the most important reasons why so many people supported Trump was that they were conscious of a series of painful disasters, the existence of which the Obama administration, abetted by a friendly press, refused to acknowledge. The nature of our politics today—and perhaps immemorially—is that every ambitious mayor or governor of a state feels the need to create a narrative of success: build a stadium or bridge that he can slap his name on, massage the crime statistics to show civic healing, and call it good.