The media villagers invent their new ‘Chauncey Gardiner’

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

At the outset, let me state that I have real issues with the concept of drone warfare. I have no problem with the use of drones for the gathering of battlefield intelligence. We should be using the most state of the art technology available for tactical advantage to protect the lives of our troops and noncombatants alike.

It is the use of drones as "remote control" weapons from command centers thousands of miles removed from the battlefield that leaves an uneasy feeling that the controller is playing a video game and is detached from the real-life horrors of war when the drone fires its weapons. (I do not mean to suggest that drone pilots are soulless video game players. I understand from recent reporting that many of them have sought psychological counseling associated with their work).

But it is all too clinical. It is the horrors of war that makes men disinclined to wage a war. It reminds me of a classic Star Trek episode, A Taste of Armageddon (1967), in which two worlds at war with one another fight a war via computer simulation. The citizens of each planet have to voluntarily submit themselves for real executions inside "disintegration booths" based upon the results of the simulated attacks.

When the U.S.S. Enterprise is declared a casualty in this computer simulation, Captain James T. Kirk disrupts this arrangement and delivers this insightful speech, A Taste of Armageddon:

"I've given you back the horrors of war. The Vendikans now assume that you've broken your agreement and that you're preparing to wage real war with real weapons. They'll want do the same. Only the next attack they launch will do a lot more than count up numbers in a computer. They'll destroy cities, devastate your planet. You of course will want to retaliate. If I were you, I'd start making bombs. Yes, Councilman, you have a real war on your hands. You can either wage it with real weapons, or you might consider an alternative. Put an end to it. Make peace."

Captain Kirk was a wise man. But it was another Hollywood film of which I was starkly reminded this week, Peter Seller's classic comedy Being There (1979), in which he plays Chance, the simple-minded gardener of an estate who cannot read or write but "likes to watch TV." When his employer dies, Chance is thrown out on the street. Chance's life changes when Eve Rand literally runs into him. She mishears "Chance the Gardener" as "Chauncey Gardiner." Judging from Chance's appearance and manners, Rand assumes that Chance is an upper class, highly-educated businessman. Chance's simplistic utterances about gardens and television tropes are interpreted as allegorical statements about business and the state of the economy. Eve Rand's husband is Ben Rand, an adviser to the president.

Ben Rand introduces "Chauncey Gardiner" to the president. The president interprets Chance's remarks about how the garden changes with the seasons as economic and political advice. Chance, as Chauncey Gardiner, quickly rises to national public prominence. He becomes a media celebrity with an appearance on a television talk show and soon rises to the top of Washington society. Public opinion polls start to reflect just how much his "simple brand of wisdom" resonates with the jaded American public. By the end of the movie, "Chauncey Gardiner" is being touted by the "very serious people" of the Beltway as a candidate for president of the United States.

Just as the Beltway media elevated the simple-minded "Chauncey Gardiner" to celebrity status in Being There, so to have the Beltway media villagers elevated the simple-minded village idiot Aqua Buddha, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), to celebrity status this week for his speaking filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan for the CIA over the hypothetical drone targeting of American civilians on US soil.

It has led to inane puff pieces like this one by Ken Thomas of the AP (all propaganda) in the Arizona Daily Star on Friday, Rand's Stand: Mr. Paul goes to Washington, promoting the idea of Rand Paul as a serious candidate for president in 2016 — a case of life imitating art. The media villagers have invented their new "Chauncey Gardiner."

I have to agree with Lawrence O'Donnell's brutally harsh assessment of the village idiot's performance art in the well of the Senate: "I think the people — serious people who have questions and, in some cases, oppose some of the uses of drones or all of the uses of drones by the U.S. military — could have been much better served by someone who wasn`t such a horribly flawed messenger on this subject." Transcript, Thursday, March 7:

What Rand Paul was up to on the Senate floor yesterday was
spewing infantile fantasies about a serious subject that earned him
sympathies from many of the serious people who have serious questions about
the U.S. military`s use of drones, and of course it earned him sympathy
from anyone who has ever cared for an infant.

Rand Paul pretended that his performance art turn on the Senate floor
yesterday with about forcing the Obama administration to answer a question.
The problem is the Obama administration had already answered the question
very clearly. And today, to double underline how empty headed Rand Paul`s
stunt was, the Obama administration chose to answer the question again.

Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a letter, "dear Senator Paul, it
has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question:
does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an
America not engaged in combat on American soil? The answer to that
question is "no."

Watch these two segments of The Last Word in which Lawrence O'Donnell, a long-time Senate Finance Committee staffer with a deep knowledge of an affection for the Senate, destroys the village idiot Rand Paul.

UPDATE: The media villagers may have created a monster they cannot control. See today's guest opinion in the Washington Post from Rand Paul, who is now making demands. My filibuster was just the start: Sen. Rand Paul on what he still wants.

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