BOSTON (CBS) – The great poet Robert Frost once wrote: “Poetry is about the grief. Politics is about the grievance.”
And after absorbing the latest spasm of our country’s new national pastime – the care, feeding and escalation of mostly-minor grievances – I think I finally get what he meant.
I did not see Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes Awards Sunday night because I was wallowing in highlights of the New York Giants’ very satisfying playoff loss. Perhaps I’m one of the Neanderthals she seemed to have in mind when she noted how many artists come from foreign countries and speculated that “if we kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”
Actually, I like both MMA and football AND the arts, at least the ones that aren’t opera and ballet.
And I don’t hear anyone calling for all Americans of foreign birth to be kicked out.
Nonetheless, Streep did have a valid bone to pick with Donald Trump over his mocking of a disabled reporter during the campaign, a grotesque act he continues to both deny happened and refuse to apologize for. And her contempt for Trump was predictably returned in kind by the likes of Meghan McCain, the radio talk show host daughter of the senator, who tweeted: “This Meryl Streep speech is why Trump won.”
This is how the grievance echo chamber works.
You diss me, or are perceived to have done so. I return fire, as scorching hot as 140 characters will allow.
Everyone chooses up sides until the ensuing flame war runs out of oxygen and moves on to another bogus topic.
Little or nothing of value was at stake, everyone dramatically overreacted, and nothing positive was achieved.
Those are the hallmarks of our grievance pastime.
And every second of every day, somewhere in American politics, someone is crying out: “play ball!”
Listen to Jon’s commentary: