November 08, 2006

Jonah: Let Mom Do It

This is quite remarkable for several reasons -- as well as being awfully funny, albeit in a very disturbing way. At The Corner:
How Bush Should Handle Loss [Jonah Goldberg]

I think James Baker and Dick Cheney should take Bush out to the woods around Camp David. After 24 hours in a sweat lodge, he should be given only a loin cloth, a hunting knife and a canteen of water. Bush should then set out to track and kill a black bear, after which he should eat its still beating heart so he can absorb its spirit. He should then fly back to Washington in Marine 1. His torso still scratched from the bear's claws, his face bloodied and steaming in the November chill, he should immediately give a press conference at which he throws the bearskin on the front row of the press corps, completely enveloping Helen Thomas, declaring, "I'm not going anywhere."

This will send important messages to Democrats and well as to our enemies overseas, who are no doubt high-fiving as we speak.
Even playfully imagining that Bush could actually do anything remotely like this is ridiculously laughable, as laughable as thinking that Baker and Cheney would demand such a rite of passage. All these men have known only pampered, highly insulated lives of immense privilege and comfort. And when Cheney does go hunting, it's not actually "hunting," in the sense of a "sport." No: "It's disgusting bloody-mindedness, a lazy, cowardly, vicious sort of abuse." These people are all more than happy to send other men (and women) to fight genuine battles, and to suffer grievous injury and even death. But face actual physical peril themselves? Please. Inflicting pain and torture on frat pledges or helpless animals is one thing; when it comes to doing it in real life...well, they'll instruct soldiers at Abu Ghraib to take care of it. The first makes the second possible, but the first represents the full extent of these men's "bravery."

But this is very illustrative of a subject that I will soon be discussing in detail, when I analyze the myths about masculinity, war and violence contained in a very popular and widely praised film like Saving Private Ryan. (If you want a sense of where I come out on these issues, the title of that upcoming series will give you an idea: "Don't Save Private Ryan.") The profound danger represented by these myths is touched on in my recent piece, "The Dynamics of Rising American Fascism," and in the Stan Goff article I excerpted there. And my essay about the "Apocalyptic Crusader" deals with this topic from a somewhat different angle. [See also this followup article: "American Apocalypse," which discusses the psychological dynamics involved, including the all-important desire for revenge.] These myths are deeply embedded in our country, and in Western culture generally. The death and destruction that results from them is incalculable, and we see it again today.

For now, I can only repeat that the idea of any of these men demonstrating courage and bravery in a real-life situation involving genuine peril and danger is entirely ridiculous, as silly as imagining that Jonah Goldberg himself could do so. On the other hand, I can very easily see Lucianne Goldberg tracking the bear, killing it in an excessively bloody manner, and then gustily devouring its heart. I'm certain such meals are a regular part of her diet.

So, Jonah, let Mom do it. Again.