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This essay originally appeared on TomDispatch.

A Torrent of Enthusiasm

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Tom Engelhardt
Tom Engelhardt created and runs the Tomdispatch.com website, a project of The Nation Institute of which he is a Fellow...

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American airpower has blown away eight wedding parties in three different countries—and we call ourselves the leaders of the global war on terror.

The domestic arms race in America is a one-way street—and the question is what awaits us up the road.

None of this, however, can account for the media enthusiasm that has accompanied it and is easy enough to mistake for its matching mate.

The media is, in Todd Gitlin's classic tag from his book Media Unlimited, "the torrent." Its images, its soundscapes flood through our everyday world, a surging river that never stops even when we officially turn off our machines. In a sense, the media has neither future nor past. Instead, it devours both in an eternal present and still remains hungry. In our Super Bowl/Super Tuesday culture, all those pundits, talking heads, reporters and entertainers collectively might be thought of as if they were the mad spawn of Anne Rice and Rupert Murdoch, swarming to a source of blood that, in this election season, is your enthusiasm, as well as any momentary hopes you may have for the future. Their enthusiasm is to bite deep into your enthusiasm and suck it dry.

They, too, are chanting: Yes, we can...! Yes, we can...! They'll happily chant it until a new Administration enters the White House in January, inheriting that pistol and that piece of rubble, inheriting an American world in deep trouble and a planet spinning on a dime. And then they'll take their enthusiasm off to another eternal present where children are being shot up by some maniac, or giant buildings are collapsing into dust, or some celeb is heading for the nearest dry-out clinic. They'll walk away happy into another present, leaving the rest of us high and dry. Yes, they can...!

And now, yes I can... pop the popcorn in that hot-air popper, melt the butter and settle in front of my TV with my crucial electoral tool, the channel zapper, in hand to prepare for the most epic battle of all, Super Tuesday, not to speak of all the epic, historic, thrilling battles to come. Don't call me for the next few months, I'll call you.

Just for a moment, though, let me turn that screen black, step out, head for my local polling place and... well, you know... make the epic gesture.

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