Sobering Thoughts on America
by Joe Duarte, MD
Joe-Duarte.com & IntelligentForecasts.com
February 26, 2007
Rudolph Giuliani is ahead of Hillary Clinton in every poll listed by ReaClearPolitics.com, as of 2-21-07, but the real question is why any of us should be this worked up about the election which is still almost two years away.
Peggy Noonan, of the Wall Street Journal, is always thoughtful, whether you agree with her views or not. And in a recent editorial, she pondered the subject, quite eloquently.
According to Noonan, in her 2-16 opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal section: "Part of the reason is structural: A technological revolution spawned a media revolution; new media is determined to win the day, old media is desperate to keep up. Large investments are at stake. Competition forces its own dynamism; everyone's filing, live, on cable, on the Internet, from Manchester, N.H., or Ames, Iowa. The chatter is everywhere."
In other words, we're inundated with data, opinions, facts, figures, and sound bytes from the time we wake up until we go to sleep. And in some cases, this stuff seems to weave its way into our dreams.
But, according to Noonan, there is a bit more to it than just the fact that we're exposed to media lunacy.
Now, it gets interesting. Noonan thinks that we're losing touch with reality, noting that you can't find any innocent people on T.V. to interview any more. Everyone seems to speak "in perfect sound bites," and to "cry on cue."
Stick with me here. Noonan's early conclusion is dismay because "it's another stepping away from the real. Artifice detaches us even from ourselves."
Noonan then writes that during a conversation with a minister, the holy man quoted a spiritual genius as saying: '"All the problems in the world are caused by man's inability to sit quietly in a room by himself."'
She then works her case further by noting that we are all becoming media fanatics because the media has fooled us into losing ourselves in the midst of the distractions that surround us, while taking us away from what's really important. We want the distraction "not because it's crucial but because it distracts us from the crucial. It takes our minds away from what is most important. Who you are, for instance, or what we are about. It's a great relief not to think about the important. It's a relief to focus on factoids."
So what does this have to do with the election? According to Noonan, it's all that's left to us. "By obsessing on the presidential race--and I mean here not only journalists and editors and professional schmoozers but normal humans--by turning our attention to the contests for the nomination and focusing on it and pondering how our neighbors experience Edwards or McCain, we help convince ourselves that the next guy can solve it all. The next president will save us. That's why it's so important, because the next president will turn it all around. We like thinking this. And I don't blame us. I like thinking it too. Even though I know it isn't true. Because our next president will not have magical powers."
Noonan is touching on an interesting topic, without really calling it what it is, a great disconnect between the business of daily living and the more surreal and "manageable" world of the media.
At the epicenter, though, is human nature, and that most essential of all human experiences, the ability to hope for a better day tomorrow.
America, clearly, has lost a great deal of hope after the war in Iraq started, a fact that only accelerated the shock of the 9/11 attacks.
A good deal of the evidence to support is the consistently high number of Americans polled who say the country is headed in the wrong direction, and the results of the 2006 Congressional election.
The repercussions for the financial markets have been slow in coming, but are also clear. The massive easing of monetary policy after 9/11 spawned bull markets in China and emerging markets, and has now provided the cushion on which private equity funds have founded empires.
The net effect on the everyday folk, then, might have been that of seeking refuge in the media, since it's "manageable."
A good fried told us the other day that the word "malaise," as used by President Carter in the 1970s, might be applicable to the current situation.
To us, whether you call it "malaise," or whether you think the country is headed in the right or wrong direction, it's all a different view of the same situation, the maldistribution of wealth.
And, as we often say, the one thing that all political crises have in common, is when too much money falls into the hands of too few.
We'll leave it at that for now.
© 2007 Joe Duarte, M.D.
Dr. Duarte's Bio and Archive
Joe Duarte, M.D.
Joe Duarte M.D. is founder and Editor in Chief of Joe-Duarte.com. Dr. Joe Duarte's Daily Market I.Q. is a premium service that provides daily intelligence, trading strategies, and technical analysis at www.joe-duarte.com. Duarte offers free analysis and news coverage at www.intelligentforecasts.com . Dr. Duarte is a board certified anesthesiologist, a registered investment advisor, and President of River Willow Capital Management. He is author of "Successful Energy Sector Investing" and "Successful Biotech Investing" (Prima/Random House). Duarte's analysis appears regularly in major outlets including CBS MarketWatch and Investor's Business Daily.