“Those who fail to learn from history are...oooooh! Sparkly things!”
We're big on history around here—be it the history of fashion, or music, computing or pop culture—the lore of American politics or the tales of horror and heroism of war.
History is what informs you. It gives you a context to frame the events of the day and grasp their meaning better than you would were there nothing to compare them against.
Steve was a huge proponent of understanding how the past informs the present. It's what made him so damned incisive in his writing, and it buttressed his truth-telling with a gravitas that few could match.
He wasn't just making shit up and leaving it out there like a Brooks, or a Krauthammer does—expecting us to “La-dee-dah” it like we were a nation of fact and history-challenged Annie Halls out there. But he made the point often that the Bush administration's frightening tendency to utterly ignore history—including recent history was one of their most damnable crimes. Damnable because even though their soul-crushing idiocy insofar as policy-making was already awful to the seventh power, perhaps...someone in there with a grasp of history could at the very least point to a previous moment in time as a teaching moment and say “Hey you know what? Based on this thing that happened before, let's re-think this thing we're about to do.”
They don't do that in this White House. Because every day for them is like the movie “50 First Dates”—you know only what you know and nothing will inform you any further. History never impacts, and every day's a chance to blissfully shit the bed anew.
It was confirmed with this unbearably sad, and frankly scary little piece of “fluff” reported by the Washington Post:
Appearing on national Public Radio's light-hearted quiz show “Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me,” which aired over the weekend, Perino got into the spirit of things and told a story about herself that she had previously shared only in private: During a White House briefing, a reporter referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis -- and she didn't know what it was.
“I was panicked a bit because I really don't know about...the Cuban Missile Crisis,” said Perino, who at 35 was born about a decade after the 1962 U.S.-Soviet nuclear showdown. “It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I'm pretty sure.”
So she consulted her best source. “I came home and I asked my husband,” she recalled. “I said, 'Wasn't that like the Bay of Pigs thing?' And he said, ''Oh, Dana.'”
I believe the correct response should have been “Oh, you fucking Dumb-ass.”
If you ever wanted to get a true understanding about how this crew—“The Bushies”—could be so earth-quakingly inept...so maladroit at the handling of even the most simple elements of governance that they could, as Driftglass says “fuck up a two-car funeral procession”, this little anecdote explains it all.
This bird-brained spokes-bot, one step removed from a “Star Search” quarterfinal with fluttering hands and a presentation model's stance is the supposed spokesperson for “the world's most powerful leader”. How in the Wide World Of What-The-Fuck does a person in that position NOT KNOW about maybe the closest instance our country has ever come to nuclear annihilation? And walk around the White House every damned day and not have so much as a clue that those very rooms and corridors she slinks around probably still reek of sweat and leaked bits of excrement from those fearful two weeks in 1962? I mean...Goddamn, it was only one of the touchstone moments of the last fifty years of American history—effectively defining our relationships with the Soviet Union and Cuba to this very minute!
I'm not feeling the “she's too young to know about it excuse” either. I was born the year after the crisis and somehow managed to hear about it during my “horrible, no-good, fucked-up, inner-city education” in Harlem a decade later.
Hell, my 18-year-old son knows about the damn thing.
Through his fascination with the movie “Scarface”—a seeming requirement for his generation, he came to discover and like the work of Al Pacino. I told him “If you really wanna see Pacino act, dig these.”
They were DVDs of “The Godfather, Parts 1 & 2”
He was captivated by Al's Michael Corleone, and really went for him in the more Pacino-centric Part 2. I explained the irony of “2's” being set in large parts in the Cuba that helped create Pacino's later crime-lord incarnation of Tony Montana. It was a brief explanation that tied the march of Castro into Havana, the ass-covering book-up of Batista, and our government's dismay at the change in leadership and political philosophy. It was a short hop from there to the Soviets stepping into the vacuum we created thanks to our isolation, post-coup, and how that led to “The Crisis” that Dana didn't know jack-doodle-shit about.
A year later, (my son was sixteen when we discussed all of this) it was covered in his high school history class, and he impressed his teacher when during the discussion, he tied the same elements together, citing the facts and noting the movie as a nice piece of source material to check out. His teacher concurred, and enjoying the discussion that had been prompted, then made a deal with the class—saying that he'd let them watch “The Godfather Part 2”, if they'd also watch “The Missiles Of October” to see what the Cuban revolution would lead to. They agreed. The kids saw both movies, and my son did say that it gave him and a few of his friends a better understanding of their old, prurient standby “Scarface”.
Now, maybe it's a bit much to ask, but shouldn't a Presidential Press Secretary at least be as conversant in recent American history as a New Jersey high school history teacher and his students?
Yeah, it's a rhetorical question—I know. Of course she should. But what should really give you pause is Perino's handling of this bit of revealing idiocy. She giggled about her head-banging stupidity as if it were something cute and en-fucking-dearing. Crooks and Liars has the audio that will make you want to chew off your own foot, HERE.
It's all you ever need to know about these people. Idiots. And proud of it. A badge of fucking honor, this glittering stupidity, and the utter lack of a thirst for knowledge. The silly-ass talking point bot waited to get all the way home to ask “Daddy” what the damn thing was? I mean, I know they're all ”let's be careful what we do on our work computers” down at 1600 Scandalvania Avenue, but shitfire...you have heard of “teh” Google, haven't you Dana?!
It's this kind of celebrated dumbfuckery that makes me want to kick Andrew Sullivan and the rest of that pack of “Black folks iz stupidah than da White folkz” believers dead in their Goddamned chests. It's a pathology if some of us get a shitty education and end up not too bright—the race is fucked!—but it's an oh-so-ironic titter-fest when people as prominent as the President of The United States and his press secretary get above-par educations, yet expose themselves as being as dumb as a box of broken hammers in spite of it.
Har-har-har-de-har-har! Forgive me as I laugh my way down the swoopy playground slide of “the Bell Curve”.
I cap this off with my suggestion for a question at the next White House Press Gaggle. A very simple one.
“Thanks very much Dana. One question please—Eh, why in the fuck are we asking your dumb ass any questions?”