Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Amy Goodman's Inconvenient Truth

Last November I introduced one of my Chutzpah of the Week presentations with the following sentence:

In the tradition of Arthur Conan Doyle's dog that did not bark in the night, chutzpah can sometimes be a matter of a failure to act, rather than a specific action.

In the baroque lexicon of Catholicism, such a failure of act may constitute a "sin of omission;" and in her column this week for Truthdig, Amy Goodman may have hit on the primary sin of omission to come out of the Democratic National Convention. The omission can be distilled down to a single word: poverty. Here is how Goodman introduced her case:

Former Sen. John Edwards was supposed to speak in Denver at the Democratic National Convention. His wife, Elizabeth Edwards, was to speak also. Poverty was their focus. But they are not here because John Edwards had an affair. Will the Democrats now forget about poverty?

The question that Goodman does not address, however, is why the word "poverty" seems to have been dropped from the "national dialog" that the Democrats claim they want to have. To answer that question we have to get beyond sins of omission and finally recognize that this is all about a dead moose on the table. That dead moose is what Lewis Lapham has come to call the "American Ruling Class." Never mind the White House: Anyone who makes it as far as the Senate has most likely been "tapped on the shoulder" by the American Ruling Class, if not with outright membership then at least with permission to speak at the table. (Where is the table? Lapham actually collaborated with John Kirby on a film that nicely illustrates the transition from figurative to literal language where such matters are concerned.) Thus, all three of the "players" in the Presidential election are beholden to the American Ruling Class in one way or another (and this will almost certainly be true of the fourth "player").

This raises the obvious question: Is anyone out there talking sense who is not beholden to the American Ruling Class? Examples about whom I have written include Walter Mosley and Tavis Smiley; and, for those who want a Caucasian example, we have the real dead moose on the table, the would-be candidate whose very name strikes terror into the political establishment, Ralph Nader. You want to know why poverty is not the focus? It is because the American Ruling Class does not want it to be the focus! Doing something about poverty might undermine the authority behind their rule! To draw upon the language of Goodman's title ("Poverty Is the Real Scandal"), the vice-like grip of the American Ruling Class is the real scandal; and it involves far more than Edwards being out of the picture (and may invite conspiracy theorists to speculate on how he was so conveniently removed from the picture)!