Tony Soprano and Reverend Wright
One reason I loved The Sopranos is that it mirrored the real America. Tony and the family at home were America at home. Tony at work was America in the world. He lied and Carmela, AJ and Meadow denied. They had to. It was beyond pain for them to admit to each other that the family thrived on thievery and murder.
Gore Vidal has noted that the unforgivable sin in American politics is to give up the game. In Soprano terms that would mean Tony owning up to the fact that waste removal was not really his life’s calling.
It is giving up the game in USA 2008 to reveal any of the following:
* Our political economy is expressly designed, and constantly fine tuned, to make the rich richer and the ambitious rich while keeping everyone else in their place.
* Racism is a handy tool for accomplishing this.
* So is the two party system in which the Republicans serve business and the Democrats serve as usual.
* The biggest, most important, expensive and dangerous thing we do as a nation is to run a global empire along the lines of Tony’s business.
* We have to expect that those screwed by the empire will resist and strike back.
* Because of this resistance, reinforced by the rise of rival powers, our attenuated empire is crumbling. With their ability to exploit the world reduced, our rulers are compensating by exploiting us more--ergo two-bit wages and four buck gas.
* Free enterprise capitalism is a chimera. Our financial system collapsed yet again on the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day, the victim of its own rapacity and Washington’s indulgence. It was rushed to intensive care by the Fed, where it still lies in a coma, kept alive by constant transfusions of taxpayer dollars. Meanwhile the rest of the economy is allowed to sink, all of this embodying the perfect truth of the observation by Greens and other radicals that America has two economic systems: socialism for the rich and feudalism for the rest.
* Anyone of prominence (meaning having access to major media) who imparts the above truths becomes a target for figurative or actual destruction.
*Reverend Jeremiah Wright used his 15 minutes of fame to give up the game big time. In context, he exuberantly declaimed that God was more likely to damn than to bless the crimes of our empire, that retribution was to be expected, and that AIDS was a tool of social control. He later backtracked on the last point, saying he wouldn’t put the government past doing such a thing.
* The pastor’s slag of the empire contrasted with Obama’s call for a bigger military and greater foreign involvement. If he’s serious about pulling out of Iraq, one wonders what Obama plans to do with the additional 90,000 troops he wants to add to the army. Obama has growled at Pakistan, declared his backing for the isolated death squad democracy in Columbia, and has given the back of his hand to the growing integration movement sweeping the rest of Latin America. Would those fresh troops be tasked for Waziristan, Caracas or Buenos Aires?
* The last notable outbreak of game-giving was early in the primary season when Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel were swiftly relegated to the extremist fringe for mentioning that the country was, indeed, in the empire business and not very successful at it at the moment.
* Back in May 2005, British parliament member George Galloway voided the bowels of the U.S. Senate by telling it plain truths about the origins and corruptions of the Iraq war. Americans who caught the Galloway show gasped at this shocking glimpse of straight talk by a politician--even more amazing than if Queen Elizabeth abdicated in favor of Amy Winehouse. Imagine if this subversive Brit’s candor had caught on like Harry Potter? Oh, the horror!
* Wright’s 15 minutes have faded. Obama has publicly rid himself of the refractory rector. Though the right branch of media central is scrambling to keep the Wright stuff going, economically strapped voters are not much interested. They’re more concerned with expensive gas than with heeding anti-Wright gasbags.
Meanwhile, the game goes on. It’s like living in Las Vegas--with no one allowed to mention gambling or showbiz.