Deval Patrick on Marian Walsh, Aloisi, etc.:
One of the challenges in life is concentrating on the meaningful and letting the trivial take a backseat. And I sometimes feel like I’m in a profession now where that is completely upside-down.
Rahm Emanuel on AIG:
As angry as the president is at the news about A.I.G., which he learned Thursday, Mr. Emanuel said, “his main priority is getting the financial system stabilized, and he believes this is a big distraction in that effort.”
David Axelrod, also on AIG:
“People are not sitting around their kitchen tables thinking about AIG,” Axelrod said.
It’s more than passing strange for this particular crowd to be so clueless about why stuff like this matters. No, the money at issue in the AIG bonuses, or Carol Aloisi’s job, or Marian Walsh’s special election, will not make or break the state or the country. But the damage these kinds of things do is, while less tangible, no less real. Here’s one way of explaining it, by a particularly gifted political orator:
“Cynicism is an opiate, too, a comfort drug,” Patrick explained. “It helps us brace ourselves against the pain of disappointment, to endure the letdown we have come to expect. Some of our politicians and some of the media, frankly, are dealers peddling cynicism by tearing down anything positive and hopeful…. It leads us to expect less and demand less of our leaders and of ourselves.”
A pretty good diagnosis, actually — insightful, in that it recognizes how corrosive cynicism can be to the cause of good and effective government. But what the Governor, and Mr. Emanuel, and Mr. Axelrod, and maybe even the President seem oddly to have lost sight of, is how effectively the relatively small-dollar items like these feed the “comfort drug” of cynicism. And the more cynical people get, the harder it’s going to be to get any of the “meaningful” things done.
So, Governor, they’re not trivial. Mr. Emanuel, it’s more than a distraction. And Mr. Axelrod, yes they are.