Engaging Culture

Our First Post-Modern President?

If one of the prime tenets of post-moderism is that “Truth” is relative, then if elected,  Hilliary might be the perfect choice.  Her story of being shot at by a sniper after landing  in Bosnia in 1996  has proven (on film) to be false.  Not only was she not shot at and had to run for cover, but she was greeted by an official reception.  If she’ll make up stories like this for dramatic impact now, then what will she do in the White House?   To an extent – the lie is the result of
the pressure of the media.  Having to come up with more and more dramatic and significant stories to keep your candidacy alive isn’t that different from TV evangelists on telethons coming up with more and more outrageous stories to keep the money coming in.  It doesn’t excuse it, but it does help to explain it.

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  1. I guess it goes back to a basic truism.

    The dominant media culture can't tell you what to think about something, but if you're not out there in that media nobody thinks about you. 

    Hillary is a reflection of the times she lives in.  She and Bill, like most politicians but to a degree more than most, has learned to manipulate the circumstances she finds herself in by playing to the media.  This is by no means new.  What's new is it's getting more attention now that the gotcha is on page 1 and not  back on page 18 which is what she usually counts on.

  2. In the information age, lying is the most politically hazardous thing a contender for elected office can do.  Mrs. Clinton and her team know that, and it's certain they would intentionally lie only out of total desperation.   The tall tale in question was superfluous, so I rule out desperation.

    I'm confident she did not intend to lie.  The limelight of elected politics and televangelism often attract people who get caught up in their own hype.  What started as a mild exaggeration may have become part of the mythos of her core following.  She may have more than half believed it, and if she did, no doubt her immediate following entirely believed it.

    I've been close to this phenomenon once, and it's a revelation to watch.  Someone else on this blog coined it as the "reality distortion field" of a certain type of leadership.

    We may joke about "perception being reality" or "tell a lie often openly and it will be accepted as truth" , but within one of these  reality distortion fields, normal people will believe wacky things.  It's abnormal NOT to get caught up in the fantasy.  Knowing this, it's unlikely Mrs. Clinton and her team knowingly lied.   It's more likely she and her closest followers had come to believe the tall tale. 

  3. 'ONLY out of desperation'? My fear is that it's not. This is the norm. As Phil pointed out, she did not tell one lie, it was a whole series of specific details that she made up that were untrue. And then her campaign said she might have 'mispoken'. Give me a break. She made up multiple details of an event that never happened. Phil pointed out that she was greeted but she specifically said that did not happen. They 'ran' to the cars "heads down' under sniper fire. None of that is true. It's not one detail that she 'mis-spoke', it's the whole story. A complete fabrication of details.

  4. Well tm, I sympathize.  It's hard to tell what's scarier, an intentional lie or a delusion. 

    I will say this, lies complicate life immeasurably.  (Pity compulsive liars, they live with constant anxiety.)  You point out that it wasn't one lie, but a series.  There's nothing unusual about that.  If only one lie is told, then the rational mind homes in on the cognitive dissonance at once.  Neither the speaker nor the listener can believe, 'cause the lie is immediately apparent.  Most lies require a convoluted distortion of surrounding details in order to "work".    

  5. A # of months back I posted a short blurb about Jim Bakker and PTL from 1977. I was then a junior writer/producer (maybe I still am) who had researched the quarterly Neilsen ratings for the PTL Club show. The tv audience was far under the radar. Miniscule. Barely a blip. Out of the blue Jim mentioned a few weeks later on national tv that they believed that 20 million people were watching PTL daily. It was a gross exaggeration made up by Jim and an associate. (This was documented in the book "Forgiven".)

    Jim can be recognized as looking for notoriety and success, both personally and organizationally. So he propagated a false story that no one checked on. It was a made up "fact". The sad truth remains that the heat (and glare) of the spotlight, especially in the internet age, often makes you say things you normally wouldn't say otherwise. Ask Hillary. Scary. Very scary.

    As they used to say on Hill St. Blues: "Let's be careful out there."

  6. I wonder that if in her own mind, she actually believed the re-telling of her trip. Hillary seemed to romanticize the whole journey– hard to tell whether she was intentionally fibbing or just remembering the good old days as a first lady.

  7. Sniper fire, I would think, would have a quality to it that would surpass romantic recollections of the of the good old days …..

    The official line now is that she was sleep deprived and misremembered ….  So much for the appeal to whom you want taking that emergency call at 3 AM ……..

  8. The Post-Modern President  Deception, Denial, and Relativism: what the Bush administration learned from the French.   Every president deceives. But each has his own style of deceit. Ronald Reagan was a master of baseless stories — trees cause more pollution than cars — that captured his vision of how the world should be. George H.W. Bush, generally conceded to be a decent fellow, tended to lie only in two circumstances: When running for president, or to save his own skin, as in Iran-Contra. Bill Clinton famously lied about embarrassing details of his private life, and his smooth, slippery rhetorical style made some people suspect he was lying even when he was telling the truth.   George W. Bush has a forthright speaking style which convinces many people that he's telling the truth even when he's lying. But in under three years, Bush has told at least as many impressive untruths as each of his three predecessors. (See The Mendacity Index, p.27) His style of deception is also unique. When Reagan said he didn't trade arms for hostages, or Clinton insisted he didn't have sex with "that woman," the falsity of the claims was readily provable–by an Oliver North memo or a stained blue dress. Bush and his administration, however, specialize in a particular form of deception: The confidently expressed, but currently undisprovable assertion. In his State of the Union address last January, the president claimed that Saddam Hussein had ties to al Qaeda and a robust nuclear weapons program, and that therefore we needed to invade Iraq. Even at the time, many military and intelligence experts said that the president's assertions probably weren't true and were based on at best fragmentary evidence. But there was no way to know for sure unless we did what Bush wanted. When the president said on numerous occasions that his tax cuts–which were essentially long-term rate reductions for the wealthy–would spur growth without causing structural deficits, most experts, again, cried foul, pointing out that both past experience and accepted economic theory said otherwise. But in point of fact nobody could say for sure that maybe this time the cuts might not work.   More:  http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0309.marshall.html  

  9. Haven,

    Do you have a positive agenda to promote in terms of what you stand for?  I get that you're not happy with white people and white politicians and that evangelical Christians are part of the problem etc. etc. etc.

    Do you have anything positive to suggest or would it just be polite for all of us who are the problem to die quietly and then you can work it out on your own?  Should we do it all at once or would it be better to space it out so there's not as much problem with the odor?



  10. I think the term "Evangelical" has been branded as a strong pillar of American white right-wing nationalism. It was always regarded as a theological word for, primarily, Protestant prostelyzing. After WW2 there was a movement, called "neo-evangelical" which wanted to seperate themselves from the fundamentalists. Eventually they are succesfull at branding many Protestant fringe groups and anti-intellectual sects as "Evangelical" so much so Evangelical, has become a seperate religious identity, theologicaly grounded in the market place of profits, not ideas.


    Certain White Protestants seemed to have fealt that the "liberal" mainline Protestants stabbed them in the back over the Civil Rights movement, and began leaving in droves. Evangelical Non-Denominationalism becomes the dominant mode many of these anti-Civil Rights folks move, and "low-church" denominations begin swelling with these folks, as well. The numbers don't lie, white evangelicals swell the armies of the Religous Right. The use of anti-government, anti-abortion and anti-gay rhetoric (coupled with the coded tricks to cover race) keeps them on the Right however it's pretty clear that it's the right-wing economic theories which get pushed, while those other issues are just the method for seducing folks into the tent. Warmongering has always been popular with white right-wingers throughout Western history, America's nationlists are no is no different. The way the "born-again" President and his "followers" embraced the mass death of families in the middle-east, while choking poor communities in the US is quite eye opening.

    Anyway, the way white evangelicals have embraced right-wing nationalism, war, and degenerate forms of capitalism, while getting the vapors of Wright, tells me it is a solid white right-wing movement. I'ts rhetoric, conserning the Gospel can only be understood by the politics they embrace.


    Sorry, for the messyness and poor grammer, I'm typing in a church parkinglot.

    And sorry for coming on so strong, I was told about the site by a friend, and I wandered over here, and the Wright comments touched a nerve.

  11. We obviously have vast differences of opinion in this regard.  I am disappointed in retrospect with several issues related to the current war in Iraq.  Where we part paths is evidently on the integrity and motives of those in leadership who prosecuted the war as our elected representatives. 

    As someone who has been passionate with regard to politically issues and partisan to a high degree in the past, one of the things that I've learned with age is that there are other points of views to issues and that it is possible to productively discuss and debate things usually until a certain point is reached.  That point is where you cease to speak to the issues and begin to attack those holding different views as immoral, dishonest, and bad people.

    I will simply state that I believe President Bush to be a person of integrity.  I think in retrospect there are several elements of the handling of Iraq that reasonable people could look to and legitimately criticize.  When you start throwing around terms such as "nihilistic" and "embracing mass death and destruction" you've crossed that line in my opinion and I see little point in engaging you further in conversation on the matter.



  12. Yes, at some point, we do have to agree to disagree, however I’ve found that right-wing evangelicals are quick to use terms like postmodern when describing their political opponents, yet are just as quick to embrace relativistic world-view when it comes to justifying war. War is all about mass death and destruction, if you believe killing a fetus is murdering a human then you must concede that war is abortion on a mass scale. “The Culture of Life” has been turned into a debauched nihilistic joke. I find it scary that the lives of families in the Middle East mean so little to those who claim treasure innocent life. I find the moral relativism of American’s utterly troubling, the Dutch sex-parks can cause the gnashing of teeth, yet a horrible war is some clumsy mistake. Very degenerate…and very postmodern.

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