I think it was siderea who observed a while back that our culture has become deeply suspicious of enthusiasm, and nowhere is that more apparent than in modern politics. Any politician who should dare to commit the sin of being passionate about something is immediately castigated in the press. Howard Dean's campaign was torpedoed largely due to a moment of unbridled enthusiasm. Al Gore, who last week did actually allow himself to get honestly angry about the horrors being committed today, was immediately ridiculed for it in the press. It's almost a knee-jerk reaction -- passion is somehow translated as a complete lack of control, something to be pitied or scorned.
And look at what that has gotten us. We have a President whose public self-control verges on the sociopathic. We have politicians who only feel safe speaking in code, and who hide their passions in under-the-surface agendas. We have a press that is unwilling to point out when the Emperor has no clothes. We have an entire society that is locking itself in the closet, unwilling to admit that it actually *cares* about this stuff, or indeed about anything at all.
I half wonder if it's actually related to the drug war. Consider: this extreme public dispassion comes at a time when the abstinence meme has really taken hold. I genuinely believe that particular meme to be deeply harmful, because it is fundamentally immoderate -- it paints the world in terms of Good (things you must do) and Bad (things you absolutely must not do), with little recognition of the gulf of middle ground in between.
The public attitude towards passion seems much like the politically-correct attitude towards drugs: something to abstain from, rather than something to use moderately. And that's downright unhealthy. When we teach people that the world is black and white, when it so manifestly is not, that failure of reality-checking amounts to nothing less than lying to ourselves...