Frankly, My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn

It took two-thirds of a century for the American Film Institute to vote “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” as the best movie line of all time.

They are the last words spoken by Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) to Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) in Gone With the Wind, after she asks, “Where shall I go? What shall I do?”

Scarlett had finally exhausted Rhett’s ability to put up with her B.S. and off he went. There was fog.

I thought of this recently when I was asked – as happens often – “Is writing a political blog fun?”

Sometimes it is, especially when someone has an interesting thought. Sadly that does not happen often. There are very few interesting thoughts about politics – at least as we do politics today. The wheat to chaff ratio is far too low but it is not zero. Occasionally there will be something of interest.

The elected officials have largely become placards at the front of a parade of publicists and strategists. The placards and the parade depend on each other. The placards raise money to pay for the parade and the parade tells the placards which hot buttons to hit to raise the most money.

There are always two competing parades with two competing sets of placards because nothing raises money like partisanship and demonizing others.

For my father, the worst possible insult was to call someone a crashing bore. The placards and the competing parades are just that – a crashing bore.

What would happen if we ignored it?

I suspect Rhett Butler hung around for 1000 pages of book and four hours of movie for two reasons. First, it made quite a bit of money for Margaret Mitchell. Second was the fear of missing out (FOMO). Would Scarlett ever do anything that would make scene after scene of her B.S. worthwhile? Eventually her wheat to chaff ratio approached zero and he delivered his parting line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

What would we miss out on if we simply ignored day-to-day politics and focused on the occasional interesting idea?

  • A Meryl Streep attention getting speech countered by the dumb ass tweets of a narcissistic fat guy? Finger wagging from the cast of Hamilton?
  • Yet another series of columns written by entirely predictable columnists offering entirely predictable defenses of the political party around which they have built their brands? Cable news?
  • How many more ways do we need to hear that Paul Krugman thinks whatever Democrats do is perfect and whatever Republicans do is dreadful? Or the guy on the other side who pays his bills catering to conservatives?
  • Fake news? With the shoe now on the other foot and the readers/viewers in complete control of the fate of the journalists, pretty much all news is fake; at least to the extent it is slanted to find favor with the preferred demographic.

I could go on with the recitation of meaningless political rituals designed to raise levels of umbrage and dudgeon but why? Won’t it always come down to a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, two of the most loathsome human beings in recent memory?

I have tested the FOMO question when I essentially quit watching all spectator sports. There again, the wheat to chaff ratio is too low, but it is not zero. I missed the last second Clemson win over Alabama because of the long ago decision to ignore all of it. On balance, it was still a good choice because there would have been hundreds of boring hours expended for one sublime second.

For the blogger there are two additional challenges.

First there are too many of us and the struggle for readers is no longer winnable without major publicist help.

Second there is a small minority of readers who make life miserable if we don’t cater to precisely what they want to be told in support of their beloved opinions.

Rhett Butler did not ask, “Where shall I go? What shall I do?” because he had already said, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Besides, there is little FOMO when day-to-day politics has become such a crashing bore.

 

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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12 comments

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    • Probably more a change of focus but thank you for the compliment

      Tough to beat Rhett’s departure even if it did take 1000 pages of book and four hours of movie.

    • That is what I wonder also….
      A different focus might be interesting though
      By the way, many of us have sat through 25-30 hours of GWTW!

  • Great piece, Haven. So true. We can all predict with absolute certainty what Paul Krugman believes on any given topic. We can also predict with absolute certainty what Newt Gingrich believes on that same topic. It’s become tiresome. I just want to be left alone by the government, at all its levels, to make money and keep most of it, play squash doubles, and go to bed early.

    • Maybe there should be a crashing bore index like the Dow Jones Industrials? Different people, ideas, political parties, themes, whatever could move up and down depending on performance and expectations. At the moment partisanship would be hitting new highs thanks to the availability of stupid people.

  • Good blog. I made the decision to ignore as much as possible cable news, blogs, Facebook, twitter, etc that was about federal politics. In the end, I realized, that for my personal well-being, it hasn’t much mattered who has been president or other positions of influence. Not that I could do anything about it anyway. And now there is this perpetual contagious infiltrate every toxicity that threatens to poison ones personality. A good time to end watching this show

    • many parts of the newspaper and TV worlds are failing. They have to do more and more to get people to watch and there is more room “down market” than there is “up market.” No reason to think it will get better.