Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Postmodern politics: It’s all about the narrative


Commentators have called it the single most important story of the Obama years.” It is the story of the thoroughgoing ignorance of the Obama regime bolstered by the all-but complete incompetence of the American media.—on whose ignorance and stupididy the Obama White House relied.

Across the US, wherever people gather to talk national security, the hot topic for days now has been the New York Times Magazine’s big interview with Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s foreign policy guru-cum-salesman. Especially inside the Beltway, Mr. Rhodes’ pointed comments about his work—particularly his admissions about manipulation of the media to sell Mr. Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran—have caused a stir that’s unlikely to die down soon.

What Rhodes admitted is essentially what every clear-eyed critic of the Iran deal has been saying al along: that it does nothing to tie that regimes’s hands in acquiring a nuclear weapon, and the Obama administration knew this, but didnt care..

But the greater revelation even that that, which on its own should be the story of the Obama years, is

  1. to the White House, the domestic politics of having a deal was of far greater importance than anything the deal said; and
  2. they could rely upon an incompetent press gallery to sell the deal to the American public.

These last two points were made simply as frank admissions, as if they should be thoroughly uncontroversial. It’s not just that the press gallery is chockful of left-wing zombies --- although they are --

Mr. Rhodes made it plain that the reporters he deals with every day—that’s the essence of his job—are idiots.
    “They literally know nothing,” he explained. “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns.” It’s difficult to deny the truth of that statement, and any journalist who’s being honest won’t try. With the decline of foreign bureaus, a distressing number of those reporting on national security and foreign affairs are pretty much as Mr. Rhodes described them.

And it’s not just the press gallery. Rhodes himself, Obama;s senior foreign-policy advisor, has no apparent quilfications for the job either – a failed novelist, a lecturer in creative writing, and precisely zero background in international relations.

As one commentator decribes it, this is idiots led by idiots.

But it really should be no surprise that a 'creative writer' is essentially in charge of advice to a seniot department of state, because today policy it's not about reality, it's all about crafting “the narrative.'

If you control the narrative, you don't just control what gets reported. You control what people see and hear.

This is the era of postmodern in political policy: not how it is, but how it appears. So why wouldn’t policymakers be taking advice from a writer of fiction?

This bullshit is all-pervasive.

The fuss about John Campbell leaving TV3 was totally predicated along these lines.It wasn’t because he rated his fine diction that Martyn Bradbury et al were all so incensed at his departure. It as because he saw him as an ideological brother. The line about him being NZ’s finest boradcaster? That was just “narrative,” spun for

John Key’s failed tax cut promises? Don’t worry, just control “the narrative” about taking off “the sharp edges of the recession” and then dangle them again next election.

Central bankers and their economists implicated in global financial meltdown? No worries, just write a narraitve about how it was the markets that failed, not their models.

British voters eventually threw up their hands at the lashings of spin that Tony Blairs ultimately-failed administration brought into office. But all he was doing was applying postmodernism to politics: that it’s not about controlling reality, it’s all about controlling appearances.

It is what the astute Ayn Rand used to call The Primancy of Consciousness in Action.

The Obama team knew this all from day one. They were the boy heroes of “crafting the narrative.” What else are “ Hope and Change” if not a triumph of story over reality.

Asked in his early days as president

'What's the particular requirement of the president that no one else can do?'
[Obama] answers: 'What the president can do, that nobody else can do, is
tell a story to the American people' about where we are as a nation and should be."

As an incredulous Peggy Noonan commented at the time:

"Tell a story to the American people? That's your job? Not adopting good policies? Not defending the nation? Storytelling?!" [Emphasis her’s]

After Ben Rhodes’s revelations about the reality behind the ‘narrative’ woven by fiction writers around the Iran deal, we now know that is quite literally true.


1 comment:

  1. Silver lining in every cloud comment
    At least the recognition that all the president does is tell stories is an implicit recognition that the state has less power than we think it does. The world goes on whilst politicians tinker at the edges thinking they make a difference.


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