Monday, March 23, 2009

Bush wasn't Churchill, and Obama isn't Roosevelt

George W. Bush ignored contemporary technology, contemporary methods of warfare, and contemporary modes of thought.

After 9/11, Bush fell under the delusions that it was the 1940’s, that we were fighting World War II, and that he was Churchill.

And, using the media, the Bush administration spread that delusion through broader society.

Mohsin Hamid, in his novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist (about a Pakistani Muslim Ivy graduate working in finance in New York post 9/11), described the phenomenon clearly: “America, too, was increasingly giving itself over to a dangerous nostalgia at that time. There was something undeniably retro about the flags and uniforms, about generals addressing cameras in war rooms and newspaper headlines featuring such words as duty and honor. I had always thought of America as a nation that looked forward; for the first time I was struck by its determination to look back. Living in New York was suddenly like living in a film about the Second World War; I, a foreigner, found myself staring out at a set that ought to be viewed not in Technicolor but in a grainy black and white. What your fellow countrymen longed for was unclear to me - - a time of unquestioned dominance? of safety? of moral certainty? I did not know - - but that they were scrambling to don the costumes of another era was apparent.”

Now, it seems as if the media men surrounding Obama have decided to use the meme that it’s the 1930’s again, that we are fighting the Depression, and that Obama is Roosevelt. Michele’s even going to replant Eleanor’s victory garden.

Looking backward never works. Emulating the past never works. Those are gimmicks, not strategies. We don’t need another New Deal, designed for a disappeared industrial society. We need tactics and strategies and solutions for a post industrial society.

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