The New York Review of Books‘ Web site has compiled some thoughts and observations from its contributors about the upcoming presidential election. Joan Didion, never much of an optimist when it comes to power-brokers’ ability to affect change, takes that last shred of hope and optimism you might have been feeling and cuts it to tatters. The campaign, she writes, has neglected any serious discussion of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, race, intelligent design, the economy, education—and, perhaps least discussed of all, the role of presidential power. Didion’s final blow:
We could forget the 70 percent of American eighth graders who do not now and never will read at eighth-grade levels, meaning they will never qualify to hold one of those jobs we no longer have. We could forget that we ourselves induced the coma, by indulging the government in its fantasy of absolute power, wielded absolutely. So general is this fantasy by now that we approach this election with no clear idea where bottom is: what damage has been done, what alliances have been formed and broken, what concealed reefs lie ahead. Whoever we elect president is about to find some of that out.