It provides a list of symptoms necessary for an official diagnosis of outrage fatigue syndrome. The general theory behind this creeping scourge is that the more information people get about government corruption, the more inured to it they become. After awhile, people have become so benumbed that each new jolting revelation of political malfeasance becomes one more shot of Novocaine. Too many doses of outrage end up being anesthetizing rather than stimulating. In medicine, this is called called the paradoxical reaction.
With so many right-wing shams to choose from, it's simply too daunting for the average, left-leaning citizen to maintain a sense of anger," said Rachel Neas, the (fake) study's director. "By our estimation, roughly 70 percent of liberals are experiencing some degree of lethargy resulting from a glut of civil-liberties abuses, education funding cuts, and exorbitant military expenditures."Liberals in the Age of Obama find themselves now, as then, requiring ever greater doses of government corruption and hypocrisy in order to maintain any semblance of righteous indignation. And as a (real) new study by Salon shows, when Obama is the provocateur of what would normally constitute an epidemic of outrage (over failure to prosecute banksters, his campaign of targeted drone assassinations, unprecedented secrecy, record deportations of undocumented immigrants, draconian whistleblowing prosecutions, establishment of a political action slush fund that accepts unlimited corporate money, selling out education to the highest corporate bidders, etcetera and so forth) the typical popular reaction is a big collective Meh.
Outrage is dead. Long live ennui. Welcome to the new age of American totalitarianism.
That the daily doses of outrage coming from Washington are having a parodoxical effect on the populace and the journalistic class that covers it is evidenced today in the placement of, and reaction to, a New York Times blockbuster revealing that President Obama is refusing to hand over legal opinions on his Oval Office murder squad to Congress, and trying to get away with it through some cynical political horsetrading with the Republicans over Benghazi-Gate. In exchange for handing over some emails on what he knew about the firebombing of the consulate and when he knew it, Obama will try to force through the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director with Republican votes, without ever having to explain just what it is that he thinks gives him the right to kill people. If Congress agrees to turn a blind eye to his role as judge, jury and executioner, then he will accomodate them with a few meaningless emails on an unrelated topic.
Obama would rather please Lindsey Graham than Ron Wyden. His recent promises of transparency over his kill list are just that -- empty promises. His continued success at stringing his fans along with glib words is continuously astounding.
The article initially appeared in the desirable and visible top left corner of the digital homepage late last night. But by this morning, it had been relegated to smaller type, buried between a piece on the Pistorius case and a retrospective on the red tape encountered during Hurricane Katrina. More than 12 hours later, the Times had published only 100 reader comments -- and judging from the low reader recommendation tally, the story was not generating much interest. But I guess we should take comfort from the fact that among those readers who are taking an interest, their reaction is almost universally scathing against Obama and Brennan. Here's my own comment:
If the White House is refusing to allow Congress to see the legal opinions, then it can only be because either the opinions are as embarrassingly flimsy as the paper they are written on, or because they are damning enough to constitute physical evidence of war crimes. And who knows -- maybe they don't even exist at all, or are rough drafts written in invisible ink. Perhaps this Administration is wary of what happened to the Bush Administration after they released their own opinions on torture -- and foreign governments proceeded to issue indictments and arrest warrants based on violations of the Geneva convention.
This refusal to provide the requested documents is even more troubling given that only last week, President Obama promised more transparency about the drone program, acknowledging that nobody should just take his word for it and that we have a right to know "the parameters" around the program. His alleged refusal to furnish the legal opinions to even his own party, while making a show of compromising with the Republicans over a contrived scandal, betrays a stunning cynicism and a contempt for the rule of law and the democratic process.
Maybe there is also such a thing as immunity to outrage fatigue in a certain stubborn segment of the populace. But for now anyway, the herd immunity to the onslaught of virulence coming from the very top of our government remains the norm. The Obama Administration represents both the disease and the treatment of it. The president quips, the politicians quibble, the journalists nibble, the people are stuck right in the middle. A most ingenious paradox.
How quaint the ways of Paradox
At common sense she gently mocks. (Gilbert & Sullivan, The Pirates of Penzance)