On having the attention span of a gnat

Opinion writer Dana Milbank (Washington Post, July 11) is correct. The entire political world today is a stage. Our national dialogue has become a series of one-act plays; each runs for a week or two, the critics offer up their reviews of the President’s performance, and then the  play closes just as quickly. Here’s some documentation of his argument.
Last week the Washington thespians, he notes, were chorusing about the border crisis. Two weeks before that the show was about the IRS and Lois Lerner‘s missing emails. A week before that Washington was deeply in debate about the terrorists who have overrun much of Iraq and Syria. Two weeks before that the play was about Bowe Bergdahl and the prisoner swap with the Taliban. Before that, the theatre was about the kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria and before that the Ukraine was stage center. As you read this the play this week will probably be whether Mr. Obama is responsible for the upsurge in violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians before a new saga bumps it off the front pages.
Of course, Mr. Milbank argues, each story isn’t buried because the issue got resolved. The Nigerian girls are still kidnapped, the Malaysian airline is still missing, and the United States border continues to be porous. The only thing that has changed is us, the public. We seem to have a severe case of attention deficit disorder when it comes to politics.
So, I decided to see if Mr. Milbank’s theory is also correct about Rhode Islanders. Do we have the attention span of a gnat? Alas, I think so. The 38 Studios payoff debacle was relegated to the trash bin as soon as Vincent Cianci announced his candidacy for his former post as mayor of Providence. He got pushed into the background after GoLocal Prov’s expose that half of the court magistrates are either General Assembly graduates or family members. That story was trumped by the news that two of the so-called dastardly defendants in the 38 Studios lawsuit, as alleged architects of the deception of the then Economic Development Corporation (EDC), are back in the saddle again earning tens of thousands of dollars from the coffers of the  state or its quasi-public agencies. Before all of the above stories, the lowly squid as an official appetizer dominated the debates. You get the point.
Why do national and local stories have the shelf life of a banana? I suppose many people can be blamed (the media is the usual punching bag) but is there something wrong with us, the consumer, of the news? Do we all need a group discount purchase of Ritalin?
How is it that the reprehensible treatment of veterans returning from the war is now yesterday’s ho-hum news? Does anyone this week remember the NAACP’s plan to try to stop the violence on the streets of Providence?  I think not. Attention to issues right here in Little Rhody fall prey to wandering, not wondering, minds.
The long term effect of our collective ADD is seen during elections. Folks return the same miscreants to office despite their self-dealing and questionable contributions to the body politic. All is forgotten. Why is the public’s attention span so short? Is there any solution in sight?


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