This “rant” was originally published on Nation National Affairs Correspondent Wiliam Greider’s website. Click here for more riffs and reflections from one of America’s foremost journalists and authors.
The new K Street show on HBO is a vivid (and disgusting) expression of our decayed democracy. I don’t know whether Americans far from Washington will find the program entertaining. I find it borderline obscene. The amorality of money-driven Washington is accurately depicted, though in a shallow manner designed not to piss off any truly important players.
But what induces elected politicians like Senator Barbara Boxer to participate in fictionalizing their own public lives? A hunger for flattering attention probably. The sad inner truth of modern Washington is that even US senators, their actions and ideas, are generally ignored. They too have become bit players in the dramas concocted by lobbyists and narcissistic political consultants.
I understand James Carville and Mary Matalin’s involvement in K Street. They have created a great gig for themselves, the bipartisan power couple play-acting at hardball politics. I know them distantly–they are not evil people. But I wonder if they realize how cynical they have become as Washington figures. The message of their show (therefore of their lives) is that “democracy” is entertainment, put on to divert the great unwashed with amusing sound bites, while the “real people” do the business of governing to serve their clients.
The Dean campaign should show K Street tapes at their Meet Ups. It would be a splendid recruiting tool, a quick way to show people why they are angry, why they are not powerless if they can learn to believe in themselves.