Walter Rhett

The High Wire of the Washington Circus

In Living, Media, National Government on November 17, 2010 at 5:26 pm
Cleveland Child Listening to President Obama's speech, Oct. 2010. Official White House photostream.

Cleveland Child Listening to President Obama's speech, Oct. 2010. Official White House photostream.

Working as a tour guide in Charleston, SC, I have seen egregious half-truths about history. In one 45 minute tour I took, I heard about women sitting on side porches in bloomers to cool off (failed the common sense test–our grandmothers did no such thing!), cannibalistic Indians eating colonial settlers (turned out to be a story in a novel by an Englishmen who never visited America), and slaves who used sign shapes to identify businesses since they couldn’t read (who can’t remember locations in a small village?). Yet each misrepresentation had a common appeal: it displayed someone else’s bad side, weakness, or flaws.

All half truths are advanced by taking someone down a notch. Deeper half-truths involve a pyschological denial, a complete refusal to accept the reality of conditions or events that confront cherished notions. Bachman, Gingrich along with their media counterparts are a part of the effort to de-legitimize the Obama Presidency. For these politicans and pundits the truth of the attacks is less important then the attacks themselves. The unspoken purpose leads to a weekly barrage of slander and criticism (about vacation sites, supposed attitudes and personality issues, and invective about the most minor or major details of governing, including appointments and policies). What feels good for the media heads and politicians is the “truth” of keeping up the fight against the President. For these folk, the goal and results justify the dirty process. Undermine. Weaken. Attack. Expose. Destruct. Use everything from Marxism to birth certificates.

The President Speaks to a Cleveland woman
The President Speaks to a Cleveland woman.

Unfortunately, the deconstruction of the rampant half-truth doesn’t have the same power, nor does it gain the same response. Culturally, large portions of the country are committed to being entertained by the absurd and ludicrous, the more the attacks strip away common sense the better. Shamefully, we don’t see ourselves in how we see others.

White House Halloween, 2010

White House Halloween, 2010

Note these wild half-truths actually increase ratings. They also increase the status and recognition of the reporter as the outlaw, the vigilante against the system.  Daily, the competition is for who can stretch the truth in new ways; witness Glenn Beck’s puppet set. The stuff of absurdist fiction is now believeable, accepted, repeated, and dissembled into the mainstream. In this brave new world, the system manufactures lies. The more radical the account, the more believeable is its hypervigilance.

As long as the silent agenda to remove Obama rests on its denial, the distortions will continue and ratings will increase. The geek here is not obsessed with details; it’s the old-fashioned kind, biting the heads off of politicians. Like who attended the old Roman circuses, many in the country are thrilled.

Stir the Perlo, please add a comment.

At Andrews Air Force Base, Oct. 2010

At Andrews Air Force Base, Oct. 2010


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