Susanna J. Sturgis   Martha's Vineyard writer and editor
writer editor born-again horse girl

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Why I Don't Write About Dubya

August 01, 2005

Because Molly Ivins does it better? She has the facts and a context to put them in, plus she writes with a kick-ass attitude that makes me glad I live on the same planet.

I read Molly on AlterNet. AlterNet is great, but it's also another reason that I don't write about Dubya: most bloggery about Dubya is boring. Worse than boring: it tells me a lot more about my brother and sister bloggers than it does about Dubya or his gummint cronies, and what it tells me bums me out.

After a while, all rants sound the same to me. Close your eyes: listen to the cadence, the crescendos and diminuendos, the dramatic pauses that rise into emphatic spondees. If you let the words blur in your ears, it's hard to tell a liberal ranting about Dubya from a right-wing zealot ranting about gay marriage.

When practiced by mature adults, the occasional rant can cleanse the mind and maybe the arteries too. Pent-up stress can make a person sick. By all means, get it out there -- just don't mistake your railings and flailings for political commentary.

I've done lots of reviewing in my time, mainly of books and local theatrical productions. Most of my best reviews were inspired by works that engaged my heart, made me think, that left me changed. Often these were the hardest to write, because when I sat down at my desk I didn't know where I was going or what I wanted to say. A big trap for the novice reviewer -- and one I've fallen into a few times -- is to score points off a truly lousy work with your finely honed intellect and your razzle-dazzle prose. After a while, this will cease to be satisfying; you'll come to expect more of yourself. Stylishly trashing a mediocre work is about as satisfying as beating your five-year-old niece at checkers.

For those of us who aren't Molly Ivins or at least playing in her league, ranting about Dubya is a comparable cop-out. Chances are you can find a worthier subject closer to home -- one you have to think about, take some risks to write about.

It's true, though: there is an aspect of Dubya that intrigues me. He reminds me of quite a few alcoholics I've known over the years who no longer drink and addicts who no longer drug, but who've stalled out at some point in their recovery. Often they replace their substance of choice with a substance considered less dangerous (coffee, cigarettes) or with a compulsion, like overwork -- or like religious or political zealotry. They hide behind God the way they used to hide behind the bottle, or the bong, or the needle, or the spoon. What doesn't change is the "self-will run riot" that characterizes the active alcoholic. Sounds like Dubya, doesn't it?

Sounds like the whole U.S. of A.


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