Sunday, June 19, 2005

Robert Redford loses his mind

Oh dear. Robert Redford appears to be getting fuzzy on the distinction between reality and film. We have this from the Associated Press:

Redford Figured Deep Throat Was With FBI

Sorry, Mr. Redford, but that guy you met in the shadows in that parking garage was not from the FBI, he was from SAG. And if you think hard, you may recall that there was a camera crew there also.

In his new role as [the actor who played] one of the reporters responsible for the sacking of a president, Redford is "waiting to see if anybody is going to connect where we were then and where we are now." I suppose that means he's adopting George McGovern's position that someone high up in the Bush administration should become a traitorous mole instead of having the bravery to stand up and speak out openly. I'm baffled by the way Felt has been lionized, when it seems obvious that he got some perverse adolescent kick out of being a weasel. If this is what we admire, then let's dispense with openness altogether. The media can become a kind of star chamber where we'll keep all accusers hidden safely in anonymity. Terrorists with pixelated faces and electronically modified voices can weep about their offended sensibilities before the cameras while Rumsfeld stands with his neck in a noose. We'll all text-message in our votes and wait to see if the platform drops.

Redford goes on to illustrate the danger of taking film too seriously:

Redford said he once asked Woodward who Deep Throat was, but the reporter would not tell him.

"Some part of me did not want it to come out, because it was this great piece of melodrama in the middle of this movie," he said.

That great piece of melodrama was an integral part of a series of real-life events that ultimately left America less-than-leaderless at a crucial point in world affairs. By the end of the decade, America's flaccid foreign policy would turn our nation into a cringing whipping-boy. While the American left had its drawn-out ass-slapping victory dance over Watergate, Jimmy Carter managed to embolden both Communists and jihadis everywhere by making it clear that the only vision deserving criticism was our own. The 1979 revolution in Iran became a template for the Islamist version of "I Have a Dream" all over the Muslim world, despite its having been executed by Shiites. Pulling our nukes out of South Korea and responding to Soviet aggression in Afghanistan with a petulant Olympic boycott merely served to turn the crank on the sputtering Soviet engine. If it hadn't been for America coming to its senses and electing Reagan, we'd now be cowering in our piece of this hemisphere while a much different Vladimir Putin made deals with Ayatollahs and Chavezes to squeeze the last breath out of America with a concerted oil embargo.

Much has been made of the concept of Bin Laden as a Frankenstein's monster created by Reagan and George H.W. Bush's policies in Afghanistan, and I don't disagree with the critics of those policies. (Ironically, Nixon advocated a more aggressive approach that I believe would have weakened the jihadis' role in ousting the Soviets and prevented the rise of the Taliban.) Let's not forget, however, that Nixon did not give us Afghanistan, just as he did not give us the Ayatollahs. Jimmy Carter did. And we have Deep Throat to thank for the curse of Jimmy Carter.

Nixon should have gone down. But whether he should have gone down in a spectacle that would alter the course of America's foreign policy (and therefore alter the course of world politics itself) is another issue. Nixon's Machiavellian nature is more to blame for this than Woodward and Bernstein's perseverance in their search for the truth. But here Felt comes into play. Subterfuge may seem clever in such circumstances, but we don't want "clever" government any more than we want "tricky" government. Thanks to all the cleverness, the shame of Watergate was not allowed to be Nixon's shame alone. In the aftermath of Vietnam, and with the encouragement of Carter's incessant Baptist chest-beating, we turned Watergate into a nation's shame and adopted a mindset so insurmountably cynical that now if our search for truth has not uncovered corruption, then the search is not over. We have become so obsessed with finding ulterior motives for our government's actions that we dismiss out-of-hand the motives stated, no matter how noble or right.

I am not talking just about Bush. I am ashamed to admit that I marched against the first Gulf war with this spirit of cynicism strong in my heart, deliberately setting aside as irrelevant what I knew about the horrors of Saddam's rule. And I let Whitewater and the Lewinski fiasco blind me to what Clinton might have been right about, such as healthcare reform or the bombing of Serbia. (Actually, I supported him on Serbia, but why didn't I go to Washington to voice my opinion when my comrades were marching against it?) In the confusion after the African embassy bombings and Clinton's subsequent cruise-missile attacks, I speculated at dinner parties that Bin Laden might not even exist. That is the mindless cynicism of a child of Watergate schooled by Redford's Hollywood.

You are wrong, Mr. Redford. We do not today need the tactics of Deep Throat--if we ever needed them at all. We have Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson, Karen Kwiatkowski, Bassem Youssef, and numerous others who have opted to stand up and speak out publicly from their positions within government, without hiding in dark garages and behind bizarrely chosen pseudonyms. Plus we have a million moonbats daily offering spurious leads purporting to show that Halliburton planned the war or that Zarqawi works for the CIA or that the World Trade Center was brought down by timed explosives. We don't have too few Deep Throats, we have too many.


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