Tuesday, May 25, 2004

From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
The face of America
by Thomas Fleming
America has had many faces over the centuries, not all of them lovable. The faces of Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, sunburnt and wind-weathered, lined with the wrinkles that come from pushing a plough, always looking over the shoulder for an Indian attack, ready to kill to avoid being killed; the face of Sergeant York, the marksman pacifist who killed almost unnumbered Germans in a war he was tricked into regarding as a noble cause; the face of John Wayne who spent his life pretending to be the hero he never was, taking credit for what brave men like Jimmy Stewart and Ted Williams really did. (John Ford should have made Stewart and Wayne switch roles in The Man who Shot Liberty Valance. When Wayne received the Medal of Freedom, I knew the Republicans were as delusional as the Democrats who interview actresses about social problems.)

In the 1960’s, we were treated to increasingly ugly faces: the leering dull-eyed philandering Jack Kennedy, the grasping hypocrite Hubert Humphrey, the sneering face of the lying prig Robert S. McNamara (the first draft for Secretary Rumsfeld), the revolting anti-American ugliness of Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, and—towering over all of them—Lieutenant Calley, whose moronic grin made a mockery of the phrase “officer and a gentleman” decades before it was befouled by the guttersnipe “actor” Richard Gere.

The public face of America has changed throughout my lifetime, like the Picture of Dorian Grey—with this difference: Dorian Grey had the sense and shame to keep the picture in the attic. We put our Rumsfelds and Kristols and Podhoretzes and Wolfowitzes, our Howard Sterns and Sean Hannitys up on the TV screen to show the world what we have become. God help us, because no one else can.

But the new face of America is not the glowering ugly mug of Richard Perle or the Botoxed smirk of the Democratic Party’s latest Ken doll, John Kerry. (It walks, it talks (sort of), it’s even more nearly lifelike than Al Gore.) It is not even that portrait of low cunning and sinister greed, the Vice President of the United States. The new America looks like Lynndie England and Charles Graner, a couple hatched in the trailer-court section of Hell.

No comments:

Post a comment

Leave comment