Okay. So my denial of watching the latest American Atrocity Exhibition is a fib, kind of. Because, although I did turn on CNN yesterday, I kept the mute button on my remote firmly in the ON position the entire time. Did you ever watch Obama speechifying with the sound off? Let me tell you, the body language was a pretty scary sight to behold. It was a non-stop hodgepodge of ambidextrous scolding, defiance, self-righteousness and barely disguised surliness.
His facial expression was a contorted mélange of sanctimony, prissiness, and general aggrievement. Watching with the sound off sort of reminded me of the old films of those World War II despots that Walter Cronkite used to show on his 21st Century TV show. My fondest memory of childhood Sunday nights is being curled up in the den with my dad, watching Hitler and Mussolini and Stalin gutterally bloviate. Of course I didn't understand a word they said. And what really baffled me was that they always seemed so consumed with rage. They really seemed to hate the whole human race. And yet, there were those infinite throngs of people, cheering their every word!
But back to Obama. I did read the New York Times version of the United Nations event. Some editor, I suppose out of a sense of smarmy fairness, inserted one token dismissive paragraph of Dilma Rousseff accusing America of criminal behavior deep within the body of the Obama hagiography. Talk about burying the lead! When the seventh largest economy on Earth calls out America for breaking international law, you'd think there would be banner headlines. The gratuitous Times mention so jarred with the whole tone and gist of the piece that it was obviously a last-minute decision, lest the wrath of the Public Editor be evoked. And nobody managed to call out the president for being for war before he was forced to be for diplomacy. Or, how much he seemed consumed by the Cheney borg, trumpeting American Exceptionalism. Or, as a precious few journalists noted, how he took his allotted 15 minutes of fame and tripled it without so much as a by-your-leave from the Lesser Countries.
It was apparently a Big Lie-a-Minute extravaganza. See David Swanson's excellent deconstruction here.
Maureen Dowd, meanwhile, waxed vituperative about the photo-op of Barry shaking hands with the successor of the "provincial Iranian fruitbat" never coming to fruition before he fled into the "sweaty and freighted embrace of the Clintons". And by the way, I think Dowd is getting a bad rap from the commentariat. She is an equal opportunity abuser. Her schtick is the display of the Inside-the-Beltway Shallowness in all its atrocity, for which she herself is accused of being shallow. She has the gift of showing, not telling. She is increasingly a parody of herself, and she does it exceedingly well.
Most readers of her latest column were incensed over her shockingly mean-spirited lead, in which she wrote that "The One" had once been heralded as the Messiah. Nobody seems to remember that, yes indeed, he and his handlers did actually embrace the Barack as Christ meme. It was Oprah who called him The One, saying that "we need politicians who know how to Be the Truth." (as opposed to a mere mortal who might only be expected to tell the truth.) Michelle promised Americans that he could heal "the hole in our souls." At one campaign speech, Obama himself intoned in response to the cheering crowd, "I give all praise and honor to God. Look at the day the Lord has made."
So, I says to the embattled Maureen, who I am sure reads all the comments:
But didn't you know America is exceptional? It was announced at the U.N., as the whole world listened ever so politely. With the refreshing exception, of course, of Dilma Rousseff. And Ted Cruz in his ostrich Keds, filiblustering his heartless heart out.
We have the most billionaires, paradoxically coupled with the highest wealth disparity ranking on earth. We're 24th in both life expectancy and per capita income. We imprison more people than any other country on earth. And why not? We have more prisons than the lesser countries.
The USA ranks a dismal 19th in retirement security, yet the Serious People all agree we need to cut Social Security. Our kids, a shameful quarter of them poor, scored 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading. Ergo, they're closing schools and firing teachers.
We have the most expensive health care system in the world with some of the worst outcomes. Seven people get shot every hour -- but six are lucky enough to live another day!
So God Bless Us. With our 1,000 military bases and our long history of doing the greatest good for the fewest number, we are truly exceptional.
And God Bless Hillary. Looking toward 2016, which began for the pundits In November 2012, she actually makes me glad that Obama is still president. Because the only thing worse than a potential prez bragging about American exceptionalism is a politician telling a magazine that she loves elephants, stupid movies, laughing at dogs, and going for walks.
God help us.
It's official. Running for president is now just like auditioning to be the new Miss America. Hillary (whose resume-padding State Department stint Maureen rightly castigated as being nothing but a marathon international good-will tour) is starting to sound like a better-educated version of that hapless beauty contestant from a few years ago:
I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some, uh, people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for our children.
Are you there, God? It's us, the holey-souley United Statesians.