Friday, February 01, 2013
You've got to love American politics and politicians for their ability to repeat lies until they become truth, or rather, orthodox belief (because a lie can never be "true"), and accepted by a passive and trusting population.
The US Senate yesterday, where the big story was a hearing to determine whether Chuck Hagel, a semi-apostate Republican from Nebraska, is suitable to serve as the next Secretary of "Defense" (even the name is a lie; it should be Secretary of War), offered the ultimate example of parading untruth as truth and insanity as sound-mindedness.
Hagel, who is not particularly bright nor quick, was unimportant to this process. The real stars of the show were the loudmouth, preening, publicity-seeking senators who grilled the occasionally-unorthodox applicant in what looked like a competition to see who could achieve the widest separation from reality.
For example there was Old Man McCain, still pissed about the Iraq War, and Hagel's disapproval of it at the time it was happening, which illustrates perfectly how desperately reactionary and childish ideologists need to be right about everything, all the time. This is the key to understanding why fascists are unable to ever forget anything or learn anything; if an opponent can show they were ever wrong about even an insignifcant detail, their delusion of infallibility collapses.
Probably the most interesting line of questioning came from Ted Cruz, a creepy Tea Partier from Texas who looks disturbingly like a depraved televangelist named Ernest Angeley. Cruz took Hagel to task for having appeared on the TV network al-Jazeera, "a foreign network broadcasting propaganda to nations that are hostile to us." Jazeera is actually a moderate Arab news channel based in Qatar, a staunch US ally on the Arabian Peninsula.
Mostly, though, the Senators, Democratic as well as Republican, are obsessed with Iran, the US's preoccupation du jour. Would Hagel, as Secretary of War, be willing to attack Iran? Would he be able to deal with "the Iranian nuclear threat" (the biggest lie ever)?
When Hagel responded to Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) that “I think it’s always wise to try to talk to people before you get into war,” Ayotte expressed doubts that Iran was "responsible" enough to deal with, because "here we have a regime that doesn’t respond to in a responsible or sane behavior as a state-sponsor of terrorism."
Senator Ayotte is as confused as she is ignorant, because "a regime that doesn’t respond...in a responsible or sane behavior as a state-sponsor of terrorism" describes current policies of the US, not Iran.
The truth hurts sometimes, especially when it's been suppressed for a long time. Reality will eventually return to our national conversations with a vengeance, and we will confront the fact that a major war in the Persian Gulf will destroy the economy of the entire world.
Anyone who doesn't understand why that is shouldn't be reading this. You belong on a remedial political discussion board.
Update: Juan Cole's lead editorial today deals with this same topic, in a much more throrough way than I have. Cole is occasionally a brilliant writer, and his first paragraph is a masterpiece-level estimate of the abilities and character of the US Senate.