Washington Meets the New
In the wake of the Republican landslide, the liberal doyens of the Washington establishment, never much for gallows humor, find themselves able to laugh only weakly these days whenever the “denial-of-death” metaphor predictably appears in one or another piece of political commentary. The paradigm made popular by Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross—the progression from denial and rage to resignation and acceptance in the face of imminent death—hits a bit too close to home. For they understand that they must now find their way to a state of inner peace and to a final embrace of their fate. It is just that they are not quite there yet.
At the moment, the imagery they invoke—always self-referential and invariably ignorant of its true origins—remains sometimes Gibbonesque (the Visigoths are at the gates of Rome, about to sack the city; can it save itself?); sometimes Dostoevskian (anarchists, constrained by no known moral code, are engaging in seemingly random bomb-hurling; is this merely a political tactic?); sometimes unwittingly reminiscent of verses from their one and only undergraduate poetry course, “Yeats and Eliot” (things are falling apart; the center is not holding; is our world ending with a whimper, or a bang?).
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