Small Beer

    Americans are too enamored of SCANDAL. Few transgressions are worthy of such designation. The misused and abused word itself. Thanks to the giant scarlet
S, peccadillos barely deserving shrugs balloon into outrage. 

    We resort to SCANDAL too easily. Same with hero. Who can’t be a hero in America? It’s so easy now one needn’t bother swiping Pauline off train tracks at the last minute or yanking cats from tree limbs. The valor invested in hero, like the disgust which should weigh SCANDAL, has been devalued. Otherwise why call such stalwarts “everyday heroes”?

    Isn’t that an oxymoron?

    We now bestow ever-fleeting glory on mundane acts. It’s lazy tabloid media usage.

    If we really wanted to properly exercise SCANDAL, then we’d generously ascribe it to our attitude concerning societal inequities. Of course that would require developing consciences, and one second after midnight on Thanksgiving is an unsuitable time of year for that.  Despite spiritual appeals, from now until New Year’s hangover will be the hours to worship those mercantile idols of crassest consumerism.

    Preferably neatly wrapped.

    A stretch of sanity seems to have becalmed the initial sputtering fervor which had people who really ought have known better frothing and fulminating regarding the David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell-Jill Kelley crazy triangle. Either that or evolution has further sliced our collective short attention spans.

    At its base the matter entwining the former CIA director, an ex-general lionized as a hero, revealed a common deviation. One, thanks to the nation’s selectively attentive media, branching off into slapstick. Romantic slapstick if something so juvenile can be so classified. Sorry seething moralists, the immaturity demonstrated by Petraeus’ outside women fails rising to adult-grade farce.

    Moliere might’ve pithily skewered both jolies, while the Marx Brothers could’ve doused them and their follies under a wisenheimer avalanche.

    So wonderful. We’ve raised the least remarkable behavior into the kind of notoriety deserving Weegee  or Enrique Metinides immortalization. (Weegee, nee Arthur Fellig, and Metinides, are photographers who’ve turned anguish into museum quality art. Look ‘em up.)

    In all the to-ing and fro-ing nothing of importance happened or was revealed. The ex-director’s libido did not imperil the Republic. Truth wasn’t subverted in order to obscure breaches in vital areas. A straying husband, one who’d earned his level of prominence, simply had his head turned. An attractive, dynamic woman confirmed beliefs he harbored about himself and mirrored them in an irresistible fashion.

    Broadwell dangled the greatest lure possible. Not money. Nor some ideological creed. Desire. She made Petraeus feel desired. Who can resist that?

    More effective than trussing herself up in Agent Provocateur, adding strategic spritzes of perfume, then further engorging her lips with gloss, Broadwell used the best sure-fire come on: she appealed to ego. Validation manifested. The most gratifying stroke of all, no?

    Worse than the inflated importance larded upon this trifle was the intense investigation devoted to it. Shouldn’t this level of hysteria have been saved for possible global conflagration instead of trysting which never even approached mildly tawdry?

    Talk about your letdowns.

    Our society has become expert at becoming distracted. Too bad America can’t export distractions. They would solve the nation’s payment imbalance shortly. Unfortunately, humor travels imperfectly across cultures. And ridicule, its offshoot, is forever undervalued.  

    Have we found comfort taking refuge in diversions? Have Americans lost the ability, the mature grown-up responsibility, of tackling serious problems? Last time I looked the country suffers no shortage of dilemmas. From financial to environmental, precipices and tipping points confront us. But where do we gladly focus? Anywhere but those bulls-eyes. Surely if the ex-director’s marital sidetracking hadn’t splattered across our awareness, something just as insignificant would’ve captivated us.

    PBS recently premiered a Ken Burns’ two-part documentary regarding how bad farming practices and importune weather conspired to transform the Plains into a Dust Bowl during the 1930s. And while the Depression era managed providing amusements to a weary public, those distractions never dislodged their focus as ours do now.

    In lionizing that generation perhaps we should also recognize its toughness here, its singularity of purpose. Is too much is made of how fathers/grandfathers defeated fascism while mothers/grandmothers riveted bomber wings to fuselages? Didn’t the domestic crucible preceding the march to war leave a greater indelibility? After all without surviving the Depression’s harshness would those Americans have known how truly resilient they were?

    This dominant generation of Americans and our successors lack that fortitude. We’ve never been tested. The niggling back and forth on the budget, burying our heads in the sand  about climate change, mocks any professed resolve.

    Reflecting on that vaunted prior era, government, a bugaboo in certain precincts of this country, more so now than before, assumed powers some of the most short-sighted and selfish among us today would happily proclaim as “dictatorial.” Yet Depression era finances were harmonized and Nature tamed.

    Who should dispute methods when results prove out? They learned that lesson then. On the other hand, we resist applying it. Therefore, we willingly prolong our suffering.

    Returning to what truly preoccupies us, though, we can take away this: American mistresses aren’t deeply steeped in maintaining subterfuge. Nor are they very bright.