The world is so messy, and the schedule so cluttered, what with the diverse man who shot all the pitiable unarmed military service­persons, not to mention the Winter Holiday panty-­fizzle-bomber, and there was an inappropriate, unauthorized earthquake in Haiti, and yet even more entropically, there was a problem about Americans watching television, or should I say cable TV or satellite TV, because there is no more broadcast TV.  You remember, the corporations bribed Congress, but, to resume: It’s just so hard (and I’m talking fiendishly difficult) to schedule anything at all when everybody else has a different agenda—there are so many channels, not to mention TiVo and Net­flix and YouTube and all those old DVDs.  There are all the porn channels and the gay channels and the shopping channels, and, what is more, deep in the White House there was free-floating anxiety about the sensitivities of viewers who were going to watch the season premiere of ABC’s Lost.  You can’t challenge the demographic of that, man!  Look at the numbers!  Do the math!  I’m talking about the wrath of an aroused citizenry with sawed-offs and machetes and everything, if you dare even to think about preempting the season premiere of ABC’s Lost!  So the Prez postponed and rescheduled because he had finally reached the bedrock principles of the American people, which have to do with TV-watching habits.  TV—it’s what’s for polity.

Yet the point is that watching fantasies even of embarrassing coarseness is a cogent reaction to reality rather than a fleeing or flinching from it.  The ramped-up, unreal “reality show” that is Lost is more real than “Haiti,” though to “look” at “Haiti,” instead of looking at Haiti, what you get to look at is Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack H. Obama, George Clooney, and an humanitarian intervention that is composed in large part of military forces.  (And by the way, I think they should change the name from “Haiti” to “Lovie”—it sets a nicer tone.)  The military uniforms and aircraft contrast nicely with the words of Hollywood humanitarianism and pseudoreligiosity that have been projected.  So why not take your Hollywood straight from the source, if Haiti is a bit hard to access through all the tinsel?

Look at it this way: We have a lot of wars going on, but nobody wants to watch them, so a lot of people understandably watch sports such as football—a sublimation, if it is anything, of war.  Or people watch cheesy entertainment because reality, as mediated on TV, is boring, and pseudopontifical speeches by a clueless President are even more boring than unentertaining entertainment.  All of that is on top.  Underneath is the truth that the State of the Union is so godawful that the truth would be unbearable to utter or to hear.  So since we know that the President couldn’t or wouldn’t tell the truth even if he knew what it was, there is no point in delivering or watching the State of the Union Address at all, except possibly in a perverse, Kremlinological sense.

Though I myself do not believe that we have actually had a Union since Lincoln declared that the Union invented the States, I would nevertheless be willing to advise BHO if I were paid double what James Carville would require, and that up front with media tie-ins.  And if my demands were acceded to, I would advise BHO, or just plain BO as I call him for short, as follows: Hel-lo!  Earth to Obama!  Come in, Obama!  Look, BO, you’ve just got to man up about this.  You look like a wuss, ducking your own State of the Union Address when you haven’t given a press conference in so many moons.  Are you really so fizzle-pantied that you can’t even name your own time to speak?  Have you no confidence at all in your ability to draw the people?  Oh, I see.  So that’s the way it is.  Well, all right then.  We have to adjust.  I’ll tell you what, BHO or BO or whatever your name is.  Why don’t you arrange to present a State of the Union speech on HBO?  Get it?  BHO does HBO!  It’s a natural, it has legs—trust me.  I’m an expert on media ecology.

And when you get set for the BHO on HBO Prime Time Special, you really have to think about what you’re going to say.  Yes, substance matters.  But what is it that you are not going to say?  Come on, now, don’t be a tease!  Don’t say anything about the wars, the deficits, the “budget,” the healthcare fiasco, or anything about the nation, the Union, federalism, etc.  Toss in a little spending freeze that won’t change anything.  Talk to them about community service, about helping the little guy, about our moral duty.  Talk about the mortgages of ordinary, decent hard-working folk and how hard it is for lower-middle-class families to take care of the older generation, while trying to rear the new.  That’s the stuff!  The State of the Union is a dream, and a dream you can believe in, because a dream is a wish your heart makes.

And by the way, BO—what’s on TV?