Friday, December 26, 2008

The Decade is Almost Over

It's amazing to me that we're heading into the final year of the decade. Jonah Goldberg from the National Review takes a pass at making sense of it.

As flawed as the American habit of dividing our history into decades may be (the ’60s didn’t get started until the ’50s ended around 1964), it’s always made at least some intuitive sense. For instance, the popular conception of the ’70s — self-indulgent, tacky, kind of gross — closely jibes with my memory of it, even thought it didn’t begin until the end of the Vietnam War and died soon thereafter. The fatal blow was probably the “Disco Demolition Night” riot in Chicago’s Comiskey Park in the summer of 1979 (even staunch law-and-order types have to admire anti-disco riots), and it ultimately staggered to its death about the time of Ronald Reagan’s election.

Likewise, the 1980s and 1990s felt like real decades, whether you hated them or not. Reagan and Bill Clinton, through force of personality alone, helped give the ’80s and ’90s a coherence.

But it doesn’t feel like we can say the same thing about George W. Bush’s oughts, in no small part because Bush showed neither the interest nor the ability to dominate the culture.

Neither the pro-Bush nor anti-Bush segments of society seemed to control the commanding heights of the popular culture. After 9/11, the Bushian forces seemed to dominate — freedom fries, 24, the Dixie Chicks’ implosion — but that didn’t last long. And, with the exception of a brief counter-Bush surge led by the lefty blogosphere, Jon Stewart and the re-imagined coffeehouse rock version of the Dixie Chicks, the battle for decade dominance has been between a fizzle and a deadlock.

There was a gigantic shift in the "noughts". On a pop culture/style level, it may not be clear to define yet, but politically it has been dramatic: The Florida recount, 9-11; Bali; Afghanistan; Iraq; London 7-7; Madrid; video of Saddam getting hung; the bizarre 2004 Kerry v. Bush campaign. Continuing: An actual Conservative PM in Canada; the epic deterioration of the Bush administration; Obama Mania; the financial sector collapse; and the now developing bailout swindle.

Incredibly interesting to be alive in these times. Remember in the 90's when the major issue was the laughable Clinton impeachment?

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