June 08, 2009

Annals of Worshipful Mindlessness

The preceding post begins a consideration of the realities underlying Obama's speech in Cairo; I will shortly begin to analyze some of the momentous lies Obama offered last week (hardly a new development for The Awesome O).

As American political culture continues its rapid descent into gibbering, adolescent inanity (no offense intended to adolescents, many of whom are notably more mature, informed and basically sane than almost all prominent shapers of opinion and "news"), my view that Obama's speech typifies the ongoing, murderous obscenity of U.S. foreign policy is a far outlier. Far more common were the astoundingly stupid comments recently offered by Chris Matthews and Evan Thomas. This has already received wide notice, as it should given the dramatic revelation of the profound mental impairment that afflicts our leading commentators.

Here's the relevant part of the conversation (that link is offered solely because of the lengthy transcript provided; I would never dream of linking to that particular site for any reason having to do with the analysis it offers itself, except perhaps for a rare instance of the broken clock principle):
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Evan Thomas is editor at large for Newsweek magazine. Evan, you remember '84. It wasn't 100 years ago. Reagan and World War II and the sense of us as the good guys in the world, how are we doing?

EVAN THOMAS: Well, we were the good guys in 1984, it felt that way. It hasn't felt that way in recent years. So Obama’s had, really, a different task We're seen too often as the bad guys. And he – he has a very different job from – Reagan was all about America, and you talked about it. Obama is ‘we are above that now.’ We're not just parochial, we're not just chauvinistic, we're not just provincial. We stand for something – I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above – above the world, he’s sort of God. He’s-


THOMAS: He's going to bring all different sides together.
If it weren't for the rather consequential fact that the United States can obliterate all of humanity many times over, America would be the laughingstock of the world. Don't ever think that the members of the ruling class, including our idiotic commentariat, forget for a second the fearsome destruction the U.S. can unleash whenever it wishes. They certainly don't let anyone else forget it; it's their ultimate trump card. If others won't act in precisely the manner the U.S. demands, we can always kill them -- just as we have repeatedly for over a century, often in staggeringly awful numbers. I'll be expanding on that point in the continuation of the earlier essay.

And even though many have noted the above example of nearly perfect idiocy (at any rate, as nearly perfect as imperfect humans are likely to achieve), another example of a similar perspective largely escaped notice. This instance is not as dramatic, but for numerous reasons (historical, cultural and otherwise), I find it even more disturbing.

In a story about the Obamas' "date night" that included attendance at a Broadway play, we learn the following:
Then it was up to Broadway, where they had tickets at the Belasco Theatre for "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," a play by August Wilson about a man coming to terms with the history of slavery.

"I'm nervous, excited, honored," said Andre Holland, who plays character Jeremy Furlow, before the show. "It's like in Shakespearean times, when the king would come to the show."

Although the play's up for a Best Revival Tony Award, the first couple got the biggest standing ovation of the night as theatergoers applauded and took photos of the dashing duo for 10 minutes before the show began.
Shakespeare is most closely associated with Elizabeth I, not with James I, who succeeded her during the latter part of Shakespeare's life. But let's focus on the broader point: that the president's attendance was "like...the king...com[ing] to the show." This is part and parcel of the undue reverence and obeisance offered to the U.S. president ("the biggest standing ovation of the night"), as the ultimate representative of authority, a notably mistaken and dangerous state of affairs. Given the actual behavior of almost all U.S. presidents for the last hundred years (and longer), including the numerous wars and interventions they have instigated and the millions of innocent people they have caused to be murdered, to say nothing of their actions on the domestic front, those presidents may be entirely deserving of many responses; reverence and obeisance are decidedly not among them. To the typical demand that we must "respect" the office and person of the president (by which, most people mean far more, and much worse, than "respect"), I emphatically state: to hell with all that.

And to see this attitude in an actor who appears in a play "about a man coming to terms with the history of slavery..." Well. The multiple colliding facts concerning momentous historical matters and the resulting ironies have momentarily caused my brain to freeze up. Since I am temporarily at a loss for words on this point, I direct you to: "No, There Are Many Things About It that Are Profoundly Awful," about the empty and exceedingly dangerous symbolism of Obama as America's first black president. Follow the links there and at the beginning of another essay, "Silenced: Barack Obama and the End of Struggle Toward Truth and Freedom," for much, much more.

This reminds me of a comment of Barbara Tuchman's, in an excerpt from The March of Folly that I included in, "Battling the Ghosts of Vietnam" (the earlier essay offers the longer passage and context):
The irony of history is inexorable.
So it is, and there you go.