'Depression Fetishism' All the Rage

It's worth noting that additional polling data reveal considerable optimism amid all of the economic doomsaying. A mid-December Pew survey found a "psychology of bad times" influencing consumer and business decision-making, while the "silver lining" of the poll found that the public remains "steadfastly confident in the ability of the American people to solve the nation's problems."

I exchanged e-mail greetings with a number of folks this Christmas, and one friend who's business keeps him traveling across the Southwest sent along this apology for his late response to my well-wishing:

I have been extremely busy with work for the past couple of months and January is shaping up to be even more hectic. That's all good -- most folks are crying about the economy and our business is growing like crazy.

Again, in sharing this polling data and personal testimonial, I make no inferences that the large numbers of Americans who are facing difficulties are "whiners" who have renounced personal responsibility while on the prowl for government handouts. The point is more a reminder that we should be putting things in perspective.

There's a wide gap between Main Street sticktoitiveness and the media reporting from the sky-is-falling newsrooms of Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington. For the past year -- from the beginning of the presidential primaries to election night in November -- Americans have been bombarded with a steady stream of media bias and fundamental press corruption. President-elect Barack Obama's campaign received kid glove treatment on his inexperience and past relationships, and the media pooh-poohed questions of ideological radicalism and legal propriety on a range of issues such as the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and Obama's fundamentally corrupt model of presidential campaign finance.

Meanwhile, the media "watchdogs" deployed dumpster divers by the dozens to Alaska within days of Sarah Palin's announcement as the GOP vice-presidential running mate. When terrorists attacked India's financial capital of Mumbai on Thanksgiving weekend, it took three days before major press outlets reported the explicit targeting of the Jewish Chabad house where Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka were tortured and mutilated before their murders, and few outlets reported realistically -- and emphatically -- on the random extermination of the innocents as our most recent example of Islamic radicalism's barbarous evil and its challenge to the West.

All of this represents a debilitating crisis of the American democracy. It's a well-worn cliche to suggest that a free people cannot thrive in the absence of means for holding accountable governmental officials and political candidates. The Depression fetishism that has overwhelmed financial journalism is just one more indicator of the triumph of postmodern truth in a world increasingly mesmerized by grand calls to global equality, the Promised Land of moral equivalence, and hypnotism of a new generation of leadership who talk of transcending the recent era of demonic polarization through a burst of etherial post-partisan transformation.