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  • Writer Login


    The Schadenfreude Report

    by | 5 | Nov 4, 2010

    I have no hard figures to back this up, exactly, but I’m pretty sure schadenfreude has become the new national pastime.

    Taking pleasure in another’s misfortune is — if not our default emotion — pretty darn close to the mood in America right now.

    I know I got a huge dose of it when I heard Christine O’Donnell had lost her race in Delaware, early Tuesday night.

    Then, I experienced another sweet round of it a few hours later when Harry Reid was declared the winner and Sharron Angle the loser. Aww, I thought, smiling widely, wonder what Sharron’s doing right now?

    Meanwhile, in living rooms and country clubs around the nation, Republicans and FOX News analysts were swooning with schadenfreude. By God, we put the hurt on Obama, they were crooning. We’re the hammer, he’s the nail.

    And the defeat of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House? Wow, that news raised the schad-o-meter past the red line.

    It’s tough to deny. Progressives felt this uncharitable version of satisfaction two years ago when we saw the Roves and Limbaughs of the world licking their wounds. I, who am not really a bad person (only a baddish person) kind of loved the moment when I thought we’d seen the last of the GOP for a while.

    Little did we know they would morph into something even more shrill and maverick-y. 
I mean, in 2008, who possibly imagined that they would erupt like a forehead growth on the head of Sarah Palin and multiply?

    But that’s the thing about schadenfreude: it is enjoyable, but it’s short lived. The cycle is about 730 days.

    The happier we are at someone else’s downfall, the happier they will be when it’s our turn.

    So, to the people standing on the sidelines of my unhappiness wearing smiles, right now, I say: Remember this moment two years from now.

    ###
    Gita M. Smith

    Gita M. Smith

    Gita M. Smith is a former Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer who covered Alabama -- yes, the whole state -- for the paper's national desk where she fell under  the dangerous influence of Keith Graham and Ron Taylor.  She writes flash fiction at 6S, Thinking 10 and fictionaut.

     

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    • Ah the misfortune of others..why is this such psychic balm for so many? Since when has American politics turned into us vs. them. It wasn’t that many years ago Dems and Repubs were all Kumbuya on the Senate lawn after 9/11 -- Today? A shout fest. Can’t we all just get along?

    • Gita:
      Like your article a lot…especially once I figured out how to pronounce “schadenfreude”.

      Gosh, I hope you’re right about two years from now. But I must confess that I’m not terribly confident that you are. I have begun to lose confidence in Americans’ innate ability to think for themselves and not let others (i.e. Fox News, Mitch McConnell, the GOP and a host of media entertainers such as Hannity, Limbaugh, et al etc.) co-opt the message and tell the rest of us ‘what we think’. To be sure there are some reasonable people on the other side, but they sure are letting the most vocal drown them out.

      I am also a HUGE fan of Barack Obama. I think though that he’s got to wise-up some and figure out a way to get the momentum of 2008 back. Nope, I don’t know how to do this. (If I did, I’d tell him.) I just hope that he figures it out. I also hope that a majority of voting Americans figure it out too. If they do and you’re ultimately right about 2o12, Cantrell even promises not to engage in …er, schadenfreude. Will

    • Cliff Green

      Will: You are one of my favorite posters on this site, but when you wrote , “To be sure there are some reasonable people on the other side,” in my despair, I thought, “name one.”

      • Cliff, to be honest, I can’t. Try as I might, I just can’t.

        My freshman English professor at Georgia Tech, Mrs. Blicksilver, always admonished me to “…be specific Cantrell, be specific.” Sadly, I think that I’ve let you both down. Sorry. I promise to do better.

    • Gita

      Don’t despair, Cliff. At this late hour on Saturday night, Nov. 6, a couple of the too-close-to-call Congressional races have actually gone to Dems, so the new picture is not QUITE as bad. Also, a number of the Blue Dog Dems are gone, which means that in two years, there will be an opportunity to run some progressive candidates for those seats.

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