I have to admit it – I enjoy watching a true master practicing his craft... even when the craft is politics. Now, your initial response to this statement might be, “What's so special about politics? Anyone can lie – and isn't politics basically the art of deception?” Very true. And the standard response to this objection would be, “But it's not just lying that counts, but lying convincingly.” But my response, in turn, would be: Not true! In fact, it's just the opposite. The true art – the sign of a “natural” politician -- is not his ability to lie convincingly, but his ability to make people want to _believe_ his lies, even when they are blatantly untrue. Take Bill Clinton, for example – the “liar-in-chief” -- or, as someone said about him and his wife, “They lie even when they don't have to.” But his genius (if not hers) was to say things that people wished were true – that they wanted, with all their heart, to be true... so it didn't matter that they weren't true, just as long as they ought to be. Now, to pull this off successfully requires brilliance on many levels. To begin with, you have to be able to discern what people really want – as opposed to what they say they want, or even think they want. And then you have to be able to choose just the right words (and choreography, and timing, etc.) to optimally answer that need. And you have to be willing to take advantage of any situation, in a completely shameless way, to pursue this agenda. And then when those few malcontents pipe up and accuse you of gross deception, you have to be able to hang tough, and basically ignore them – i.e. never argue, and never -- never, ever -- apologize. (And this takes considerable will power, you must admit.) So the bottom line is that you create, for all intents and purposes, reality out of thin air – what should be true somehow, almost magically, becomes true simply because you have said it and people agree. This is the art of politics brought to fine perfection – and Bill Clinton is without peer in our generation in this regard. He took full advantage of what I call the 3-day news phenomenon. On Day One, you make your headline-grabbing (but completely untrue) statement. On Day Two, the media broadcast it to the ends of the earth, representing it as The Truth, like unto the tablets Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai. Then on Day Three, a few troublemakers start to pick apart this fragment of holy writ, pointing out the gross errors and untruths within. They are, of course, totally ignored by the media (not to mention by the perpetrator) and their objections are soon forgotten, whereas the original statement stands as strong and tall as ever. Or – worst case – a few isolated media outlets deal with the objections in a desultory fashion by putting in a tiny item, buried somewhere within the paper and below the fold so that no one ever reads it.
And this is how we, as a society, handle “truth” in the political arena – which is to say, we don't handle truth at all; in fact we treat it like nuclear waste. But let's return to Bill Clinton, who has now -- taking a hint from Rachel Maddow -- identified the “tea partiers” with domestic terrorists of the Timothy McVeigh persuasion. It's a load of crap, of course – but because, to many people, it “ought” to be true, it is therefore accepted as the truth... and the rest are too intimidated to speak up. And, in fact, the ploy works – since you can expect the tea partiers and other protesters and dissenters to feel a chill on their efforts. I mean, it's one thing to trot down to the National Mall on a bright spring day with a sign in your hand – and quite another to feel that you've been added to a list of suspected or potential terrorists. What happens the next time you try to get on a plane? Or get a job requiring security clearance? And so on. That's the sort of thing that would intimidate any middle-class person, and a good many other people besides. Only the perennial radical would see this categorization as a badge of honor – not that he accepted it as the truth, but that it proves his point about the government... the system... the Regime... however he puts it to himself and others.
(And by the way, how is it that anti-big-government people are always being referred to, by liberals, as “Nazis” and “fascists” -- as if there was anything in Nazism or fascism that was opposed to big government? Just asking... )
But now let us turn to the new, young master of all of the arts political – namely our current president. He has shown skills in this area nearly on the level of Mr. Clinton, although I suspect he's operating at a distinct disadvantage because he still has a functioning conscience. But that is an ailment that is easily cured – and Obama is showing himself to be a cooperative patient. This last Sunday, he showed up at the mountain retreat of none other than the Rev. Billy Graham, for a spontaneous and unrehearsed chat with Graham and his son Franklin. (The AP referred to it as a “pilgrimage”. No “wall of separation” around here, folks!) Now, as you'll recall and as I described just the other day (“Graham Crackers”, posted on April 23), Franklin Graham is the guy who was disinvited from speaking at a Pentagon prayer service because he had referred to Islam as “evil”. And our military – for whom Job One is killing as many Moslems as possible in the shortest amount of time – decided that his remarks were “not appropriate”. What I imagine happened then was that someone in the White House said, “oops!!” -- fully realizing that the Pentagon had just alienated a few million Evangelicals. And this is not because Obama is depending on Evangelical votes, but because they are the most hard-core supporters of the multiple and endless wars he is taking such delight in waging. And somehow, mysteriously, as I've said before, the Evangelicals still wield tremendous clout in Washington. So obviously, there were some fences that needed mending... and, the next thing you know, shazam! -- Obama shows up on Billy Graham's doorstep and, I'm sure (although the article didn't say a word about this – wonder why), commiserates with his son over the latter's shabby treatment by the Pentagon. What were those strutting, huffing and puffing, uniformed clowns thinking, anyway? To blackball a patriotic American!
Well – as Michelle Malkin puts it, “there are no coincidences in the perpetually orchestrated Age of O” -- and I'm sure that even fire-breathers like Rahm Emanuel – Obama's James Carville and Paul Begala combined – advised Obama to go down and make nice with the good Reverends, even though their followers are all Bible-clinging, gun-toting, slack-jawed, snaggle-toothed, inbred, racist, homophobic morons. 'Cause who knows, they might “need” these people some day – especially since so many of the middle class have started wandering off the reservation. But the bottom line is – as in Clinton's case – everyone will see this “pilgrimage” for what it was, namely a total scam... but they will believe it, or let's say believe “in” it, because it fits their vision of the world as it ought to be.
And thus, Obama takes his place as the most skilled politician since Bill Clinton... and who knows, with nearly three years to go (not even including re-election) he might surpass him yet. He might, in fact, turn out to be the Tiger Woods of 21st-Century politics. (Um... there might be some problems with that comparison, but I can't think of a better one right at the moment.)