"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Friday, June 03, 2005
Three of my favorite writers in all of West Blogville - Billmon, TBogg, and the Rude Pundit - wax philosophical today about what the outing of "Deep Throat" means to us in the 21st century. The result is three fine posts from three very different stylists, but each with a similarly dolorous take on the state of the Union.
Billmon is by far the most pessimistic of the three (not that any of them are especially cheery), which one infers rather quickly:
The Republic is rather obviously beyond saving now -- even George Lucas understands that. Which is why the self-outing of Mark Felt had about as much relevance to our current slow motion coup d'état as a late-night cable rerun of All the President's Men.
Billmon grows impatient with nostalgia over Watergate - the magic time, some seem to think, when brave whistleblowers and gallant journalists in shinig armor brought down a bad President. If only we had heroes like that to save us this time! This rosy view is demonstrably absurd, and Billmon demonstrates. We have whistleblowers - "Richard Clarke and Sibel Edmonds and Ray McGovern and Scott Ritter -- and even Paul O'Neill" - and anonymous sources leaking what should be devastating information, and regular folks who do right. And while we may wish that the media covered these stories better and more often, it is good to remember that most of the press wasn't all that brave in 1973, either. But finally, neither the press nor the heroes can save us if we can't be bothered saving ourselves:
What the health of the Republic requires, in other words, may not be a new crop of leakers and whistleblowers, or a fresh young generation of Woodwards and Bernsteins -- or even a more independent, aggressive media. What it may need is a new population (or half of a population, anyway), one that hasn't been stupified or brainwashed into blind submission, that won't look upon sadistic corruption and call it patriotism, and that will refuse to trade the Bill of Rights for a plastic Jesus and a wholly false sense of security.
TBogg takes a narrower approach, riffing on a very specific accusation levelled by Ben Stein in this characteristically histrionic column:
So, this is the great boast of the enemies of Richard Nixon, including Mark Felt: they made the conditions necessary for the Cambodian genocide. If there is such a thing as kharma, if there is such a thing as justice in this life of the next, Mark Felt has bought himself the worst future of any man on this earth. And Bob Woodward is right behind him, with Ben Bradlee bringing up the rear. Out of their smug arrogance and contempt, they hatched the worst nightmare imaginable: genocide. I hope they are happy now -- because their future looks pretty bleak to me.
Now, when I read that, my initial reaction goes no deeper than "Oookaaaaaay...." Tbogg, however, sees history repeating itself, and he is not pleased:
So when we finally bow down to public opinion and admit defeat (only we won't admit defeat...we'll just call it a tie) and pull out of Iraq, and the power vacuum that ensues results in tribal warfare and more death and destruction, who do you think the rightwing echo chamber is going to blame? Not the neo-cons who sent us on this fools errand. Not the generals who were whistling past the graveyard when they should have been telling Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to fuck off. Not the 101st Fighting Keyboarders who waved their little flags and their well-thumbed copies of Sun Tzu and pointed out that it looked a hell of a lot easier on the Risk board.
No. They're going to blame us because we didn't wear little flag lapel pins and slap yellow ribbon magnetic stickers on our SUV's and we subverted the cause of democracy in the Middle East and that's why 1600 and counting American soldiers are dead, and the blood of every Iraqi killed in the wake of our leaving will be on our hands.
Which leaves the Rude Pundit with the unenviable task of being the closest thing we have here to an optimist. Like Billmon and TBogg, the Rude One begins with a nod to the past:
So it's just goddamn funny to see all Nixon's lackeys out there calling Deep Throat W. Mark Felt a "snake," a "traitor, and more. Pat Buchanan, in his "column" today (if by "column," you mean "the jowly yawps of insignificance from a fascist cartoon balloon"), calls Felt "an FBI hack who was ratting out President Nixon for passing him over as director." Buchanan excuses Nixon using the same rationale that ratfucking scoundrels have used since cavedwellers could belch out sounds: everybody else does it - we just got caught: "Not one miscreancy committed by Nixon's men did not have its antecedent in the White Houses of JFK or LBJ. But they got away with it." It's like saying that other frats gang rape passed out coeds all the time and no one rats them out; but we Dekes rape one Tri-Sig and we get sent to jail.
Just as the public finally turned on Nixon's foul reign, the Pundit notes that people may be getting fed up with the Boy King's tired act. But, while the Pundit hopes that some lesser scandal (such as the Jack Abramoff affair) may yet be Bush's undoing, he fears that the sheer enormity of this government's crimes may shield the perps from accountability:
The Rude Pundit thinks this: the American public, in growing numbers, knows in its heart that they've been lied to, just like in Vietnam, and that Americans are being killed for those lies, just like in Vietnam. But fear is a powerful thing: deep, psychological, repressed fear - that if the truth is not held back, then the monsters of anarchy must be unleashed. It is better to take down a President for something a great deal more prosaic than war crimes and mass murder. Because what does it say about us if our leader is guilty of such things?
All three of these writers are urging us to look forward instead of back, and to rise up in defending America from her worst self. All three, to varying degrees, betray substantial doubt that the job can be done at all. And yet, each of them bothered to raise the alarm - so maybe they're not quite as gloomy as they seem to be. In any event, they're all worth a read.