Monday, May 01, 2006

Billmon's review illustrates larger problem

Here's a lengthy quote from the center of Billmon's review comparing the movie American Nightmarez to Stephen Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondents dinner.

"...Like its upscale sibling, the annual Gridiron Club dinner, the White House Correspondents dinner is a ritual designed, at least implicitly, to showcase the underlying unity of our Beltway elites. It's supposed to demonstrate that no matter how ferocious their battles may appear on the surface, political opponents can still gather in the same room and break bread, with the corporate media acting as the properly neutral host. It's a relic of the good old days of centrism and bipartisan log rolling ("the end of ideology"), visible proof that in the American system, there may be enemies, but there are no mortal enemies. And so we last night we had Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame sitting at one table, Karl Rove at another, and no knives were drawn.

The light entertainment at these events is also supposed to reflect the same spirit of forced good cheer, to the point where even matters of deadly seriousness -- things that in other countries might cause governments to fall -- are treated like inside jokes, as with Shrub's looking-for-the-missing-WMDs-under-the-couch routine. Ha ha ha. We're all friends here!

The underlying message, never stated or even acknowledged, is that there are no disputes that can't be resolved within the cozy confines of our "democratic" (oligarchic) system. Friends don't send friends to jail -- or smash their presses or abolish their political parties or line them up against the wall and shoot them.

The problem is that the tissue of this particular lie has been eroding ever since the Clinton impeachment, if not before, and is now worn exceedingly thin. It's becoming harder and harder to conceal the ruthlessness of the struggle for power, or ignore the consequences of losing it...."

The first inclination of nearly all the insider/plutocrats is to stick together when the status quo is threatened. Even the insider outsiders, like elected Democrats, supposedly neutral big media members and even many celebrity left of center writers, know their cushy lives, padded with gigantic pensions, and fantastic health insurance, depend on ruling class unity and keeping the great starry eyed wad deluded and dutifully trooping off to solemnly vote in rigged elections. (Oh shucks, we lost again; we’ll just have to tighten our belts and try harder in 2008.)

The complicity of the opposition, usually masked as civility, is much of what makes fascists, once in power, so difficult to dislodge.


James Pelton said...

I have a soft spot in my heart for Al Gore; I'll leave it to the reader to decide whether that's appropriate sentiment or just something more appropriate for an over-ride melon. But I will never forgive him for not fighting after the Supremes gave the presidency to their former boss's son.

In 1888, when Grover Cleveland lost the presidency to Harrison after hotly disputed results, he did not just give up as did Tilden did with Hayes. Cleveland criticised Harrison for four years, and the Democrats whipped Harrison with the newly coined phrase "Hail to the Thief". When Mrs. Cleveland left the White House in 1889, she told the servants "I want you to take good care of all the furniture and ornaments in the house, for I want to find everything just as it is now when we come back again....four years from today or roughly 1,460 days from now." They were determined.

Gore, on the other hand, was not. His father, whom he considered the greatest man he had ever known, had twice tried for the White House, and failed. I believe to this day that the reason Gore didn't fight, and the reason he seemed more relaxed after giving up, was that he hadn't really wanted to be President, but had just wanted to fulfil his father's dream. But I will agree there's this other way of looking at it. In his concession he said:

"While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America and we put country before party. We will stand together behind our new president."

Again, I think this is the statement of a Senator who was the son of another Senator, and one can read the above as Gore swapping a love of country for a love of institution.

Either way, his failure to fight cost us dearly.

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