“National Affair”: I don’t watch the Ellen DeGeneres show, but I know people who do. There’s this whole controversy (probably over by now) over a dog she adopted from a pet adoption agency, decided she couldn’t keep, and unwittingly gave to some friends in violation of an adoption contract. Agency showed up at friends’ house and (supposedly) ripped dog away from sad children who wanted the dog. Ellen made an on-the-air fuss; she wants to use power of TV show to guilt adoption agency to yield the dog back to the kids; meanwhile, idiots are calling with death threats to the adoption agency owner, blah blah. People I know who watch the show seem equally disgusted with Ellen’s and adoption agency’s behavior (to the point where one of them is considering a switch to Oprah, a real Catch-22 if there ever was one).
I’m just wondering how it came to pass that Americans became such bossy control freaks with each other about children and pets both. There is sometimes paranoid talk about how America is primed for a totalitarian takeover in the future, but there are plenty of individual citizens who already really get off on telling each other what to do. Whatever happened to going to the pound and picking out a dog, for example? I can understand paying mandatory fees for neutering and puppy shots, but what’s with this adoption-agency power trip where you need a home inspection, personal evaluation, your vet history has to be reviewed, and where children under 14 aren’t to be trusted with dogs? My family members have had multiple pets for 40 years and yet I don’t think we’d pass muster with some of these people. Is this just a phase American society is going through? Because honestly I don’t see where this legalistic attitude toward life and lack of trust in one’s fellow citizens makes for a sustainable society.
As for Ellen, using a TV show disingenuously as a bully pulpit for one’s own bullying is the crudest tactic around. Which is why I’m delighted that Stephen Colbert has (apparently) decided to run for president, at least in South Carolina, his home state. Has he really? No one’s quite sure, and uncertainty of course is the nuclear fuel rod at the heart of Colbert’s satire. On one hand, this is a really serious election in a time of bloody and insane war where people are dying needlessly every day. On the other hand – and perhaps this says too much about me – the prospect of Colbert possibly being able to blow apart the entire presidential election charade the way he blew apart the White House Press Association Dinner fills me with giddy anticipation. It is wise and prudent of Colbert to limit himself to South Carolina, as this is both Pure Comedy Gold and Pure Political Plutonium. However broken the process, we must take it seriously. Which is why I’m glad he’s starting in S.C., which is probably where he can do the most damage. See this NYT story for things we’re already learning about the nomination process just because he’s declared.