The striking thing about this election season isn’t how different it’s been from years past, “but precisely how similar,” Joan Didion writes for Salon. "Time got wasted in the familiar ways," she laments. The country is in the grip of a startling transformation, but "in the end the old notes had been struck, the old language used."
The parallel, borrowed from MSNBC's Chris Matthews, is 1988. "Now as then, the same intractable questions were avoided and in the end successfully evaded," Didion writes. Whether ignoring the wars in favor of focusing on pigs and lipstick or misstating the details of the economic meltdown, the national candidates missed the point. And voters never balked: “Amnesia was our preferred state.”