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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/27/11

Idiot Wind: The Eternal Return Of The Politics Of The 1970s

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Unpopular wars drag on, gas prices erratically rise and inexplicably fall, as clouds of cynicism, dark as Richard Nixon's perpetual five o'clock shadow, brood over the length of the U.S.  At times, it seems as though Nixon's 1970s never ended: Only Ronald Reagan's/Bill Clinton's/Barack Obama's Quaalude-laced, faux populist snake oil caused the nation collectively to slip into a soporific sleep -- and now, with the effects of the drug wearing off, we begin to awaken"hung over, groggy, queasy"still in the midst of that ugly and odious era.

At least, that's the encrypted message I've deciphered using my Super-Secret, Zeitgeist Decoder Mood (disorder) Ring, special limited, Michele Bachman edition.

Thus far, in this dismal century of the nation's history, both men who have occupied the office of the U.S. presidency, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, are as much products of the 1970s as were Naugahyde pit group sofas and outbreaks of the Herpes Simplex Retrovirus at Plato's Retreat. From a historical perspective, future generations will regard the Bush Administration and its Democratic Party doppelganger as the Dacron Polyester of American presidencies: Bush's legacy will carry all the beauty, style, and enduring appeal of a powder blue Leisure Suit -- and Obama will be remembered as the Pet Rock of the U.S. oligarchic class.

Accordingly, if there is a presiding spirit possessing our age, it is the gray ghost of Richard Nixon who sat, stoop shouldered and scheming, in the Oval Office, in the early 1970s, as the U.S. began hitting the limits of its imperial might and economic power, and who set the tone of duplicity and denial that define daily life in the nation to this day.

During the Watergate Era, Karl Rove and other ruthless sleight-of-hand artists of the politics of demagogic distraction and displacement grasped this fact, so troubling in its implications that it was banished from the official narrative: Nixon was not driven in disgrace from office because the people of the U.S. were troubled by having a sick, corrupt bastard as their president; in truth, most simply found the situation embarrassing"to have the curtains of the living quarters of the White House pulled open, thus allowing the world to witness the dismal spectacle of Nixon"pacing the floors, draped in a dingy bathrobe, muttering whiskey-fueled expletives at the yellowing wallpaper.

"Now, Watergate does not bother me / "Does your conscience bother you? Tell the truth." -- excerpt, Sweet Home Alabama, Lynyrd Skynyrd

Moreover, Rove perceived that Nixon's paranoia, rage, envy, and resentment merely mirrored those of the white, U.S. middle and laboring classes. Nixon knew from the depths of his black spleen to the tips of his twitching nerve endings the hidden in plain sight, ugly side of the American character and how the pathologies therein could be exploited for political gain.

Nixon's legacy remains our lode star because most of the U.S. populace accepted the false narrative that Watergate and Vietnam were aberrations, and that, by Nixon's resignation from office in August of 1974, the country's psyche had been purged of the demons"conjured and given sustenance by U.S. global-wide imperium and that still abide within the collective psyche of the nation -- an unseen, insidious presence to this day.

Ergo, even after Nixon was exiled to San Clemente, and the nation's citizenry was induced to take up the mantra, "the system worked"time to move on"Our long national nightmare is over" -- Americans remained uneasy, clinging to the casuistry that we were mere bystanders when the crimes were committed -- and, as a consequence, we transformed ourselves into willfully ignorant marks for political flimflammers (embodied by the likes of Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama et al) whose comfortable lies exalt the inviolable grace of our collective cluelessness.

Otherwise, we would have been forced to face our individual complicity in Nixon's crimes; otherwise, a million Vietnamese corpses would have risen accusingly in our dreams -- as tens of thousands of Iraqi and Central Asian dead would haunt our sleep tonight.

At present, Democratic Party apologist for U.S. military imperium seem to have little inclination to lament the deaths of the children of Central Asia, whose bodies have been ripped asunder by attacks by U.S. predator drones, because (Could they possibly believe?) their lives were violently torn from this world by the policies of a Nobel Peace Prize winner -- not Bush nor Cheney nor any (admitted) neocon.

In the compartmentalized confines of their casuistry, how is it possible that Obama's liberal supporters actually believe that the souls of these children are now at peace only because they had not befallen the misfortune of having been slaughtered, by say, the caprice of a President Perry or Bachmann?

The demonstrable madness of the Republican party's presidential hopefuls serve as living emblems of the forces of negative entropy riddling the empire. Accordingly, Michele Bachmann embodies its urge towards outright self-destructive mania. In contrast, Barack Obama's style is axiomatic of the effects of its all-encompassing, reality-denying PR apparatus i.e., reality viewed as a mere marketing problem.

Moreover, as the tattered veracities of U.S. exceptionalism continue to be buffeted by the realities of the wider, indomitable world, political types, such as Obama and Bachmann, both scions of the nation's dismal and deranged political class -- risen from the political landscape since the 1970s -- will embody the cognitive dissonance inherent to declining empire.

The larger the specter of decline looms, the more desperate the political and economic elite have become"contriving to consolidate even more outrageous amounts of wealth and power, hence further circumscribing the already severely diminished societal milieu of the less privileged classes of the nation.

Such desperate circumstances can bring peril: The rights and liberties of a nation's people can be forsaken, like good music and a sense of fashion in a 70s era disco, when a group of fanatical outsiders (for example, rank and file teabagger types) forge ad hoc alliances, based on political and economic expediency, with a corrupt business and political, ruling elite.

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Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at Facebook:

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