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History’s Actors

Somebody’s contradicting the contradiction of someone else. WTF’s going on here? The more I know, the less I know or the more I think I know the more I realize I’m powerless to understand.

When I read the daily onslaught of news, attempt to separate the accurate from the fake, I’m reminded of Donald Rumsfeld’s response to a question at a 2002 news briefing during which he was asked about evidence linking Iraq to weapons of mass destruction:

Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.

This quote leads to another George Bush regime horror, that hideous ogre often referred to as Bush’s brain, Karl Rove. During an interview with journalist Ron Suskind, Rove said that guys like Suskind were in “what we call the reality-based community” and defined this as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” Rove continued:

That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

For weeks now, we’ve been bombarded with distractions: Russia, Russia, Russia. Distractions obscuring the relevant: poverty, homelessness, war, troop escalation in Afghanistan, immigrant deaths at sea, climate devastation, and the recent tunnel collapse at Hanford nuclear site.

I’ve read mainstream and alternative accounts of Trump’s months in office. You know, studying what he’s doing. Studying Hillary Clinton’s analysis of her embarrassing defeat. Studying Obama’s payoff, the huge amount of money for that speech. His and Michelle Obama’s book deals. The number of zeros, commas, and position of decimal points. Are these Rumsfeld’s known unknowns? Or his unknown unknowns? Are they Rove’s characters, playing roles to convince us of whatever?

And speaking of actors, I’ve just finished re-watching four seasons of House of Cards in preparation for the end-of-May release of season five. If you haven’t seen season 4 and intend to, don’t read the rest of this piece.

Frank Underwood is president of the U.S., in office because he’s orchestrated the impeachment of the former president who resigned. Underwood and his wife Claire are running for the presidency and the vice presidency. When scandal threatens their chance, they decide to wage war:

Claire Underwood: We can’t fight everything off one by one, Francis. But if we make this – we make it work for us.
Frank Underwood: Create chaos…
Claire Underwood: More than chaos.
Frank Underwood: War…
Claire Underwood: Fear.
Frank Underwood: Fear. Brutal. Total.
Claire Underwood: I’m done trying to win over people’s hearts.
Frank Underwood: Let’s attack their hearts.
Claire Underwood: We can work with fear.
Frank Underwood: Yes, we can.

And then Frank Underwood says, That’s right. We don’t submit to terror. We make the terror.

Indeed. Art imitating the egregious truth of American Exceptionalism. Politicians delivering their lines. Crying on cue. Presidents as place holders, emoting as they carry out an agenda written years prior.

Perhaps a crucial known is that these are Golden Globe and Oscar-worthy performances to perpetuate U.S Empire.

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Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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