Daily Office:
Monday

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Matins: Much as I admire Frank Rich’s commentary on public affairs, I think that yesterday’s piece was a tad too populist.

We’ll keep believing, not without reason, that the whole game is as corrupt as the game show in “Slumdog Millionaire” — only without the Hollywood/Bollywood ending. We’ll keep wondering how so many at the top keep avoiding responsibility and reaping taxpayers’ billions while relief for those at the bottom remains as elusive as straight answers from those Mumbai call centers fielding American debtors.

And what’s wrong with “populist”? It ignores (or, worse, forgives) the colossal inattentiveness with which Americans have been going about their business since the tail end of our Vietnam Misadventure. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encountered this passive-aggressive self-indulgent excuse: “Why should I pay attention to the news when there’s nothing I can do about it?”

Tierce: It’s A Wonderlife Life comes to the Times this morning, in the form of a very moving Op-Ed piece by Ted Gup. “Hard Times, A Helping Hand.” Bring Kleenex.

Oremus…

§ Matins. Democracy requires its citizens to make the leap of faith beyond the (fundamentally narcissist) notion of individual helplessness. Nobody, in a democracy, is unimportant enough to be allowed to take the day off. Mr Rich, I’m disappointed.

§ Tierce. Pride is not the note that Mr Gup closes on.

For many Americans, this Christmas will be grim. Here, in Ohio, food banks and shelters are trying to cope with the fallout from plant closings, layoffs, foreclosures and bankruptcies. The family across the street lost their home. From our breakfast table, we look out on their house, dark and vacant. Multibillion-dollar bailouts to banks and Wall Street have yet to bring relief to those humbled by need and overwhelmed by debt. Already, the B. Virdot in me — in each of us — can hear the words of our neighbors.