I remember Jimmy Carter’s abortive effort to rescue the hostages — the one that ended up with a lot of brave men dead in the desert. I was living in Portugal; by that time Europe’s opinion of Carter was that if he tried to organize a bonk in a brothel he’d miraculously end up with whores who wouldn’t put out. The raid turned into jokes on the Portuguese street within days.
Inexplicably — and it really is inexplicable — I felt connected to the U.S., so I was grieving and furious and all of this with no justification and no ability to express it to anyone, because … well, what did I have to do with it all? I ended up writing a condolence letter to the American Embassy, which sent me back what was as close to a pat on the head and a “there, there, dear” as a typed letter can get.
I never thought I’d feel that way again.
The last week has been a very unpleasant time. While no one is making jokes, our administration might as well have been doing so. Describing the response goes beyond ineffective and counterproductive to “What on Earth are you thinking?” and “Do you think we’re stupid?” It makes me want to punch things, and there is nothing I can punch. So I wake up tangled in bed sheets, locked in mortal combat with the pillows, and I go through the day holding down the rage that threatens to explode.
The problem is not that the administration is lying. Administrations do lie; this is how it works — sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not. If it were possible to design American foreign policy by a show of hands across the country, we wouldn’t need a government.
Yet right now, they’re both treating us as idiots and acting like idiots in the process. They clearly think we’ll believe whatever they spin, and frankly the quality of the lies reflects how vacuous they are and how simplistic their vision of the world is. Also, it reflects how they completely managed to ignore all of the history of the Middle East and all of our past reactions to the Middle East. That a group of people who have — supposedly — excellent educations think this is the way to manage foreign relations both terrifies and infuriates me.
Take the way they’re telling us these were impromptu demonstrations. Riiight. With sophisticated weaponry, on 9/11, these were impromptu demonstrations. Impromptu demonstrations which, by the way, the British press reports our government was warned about days in advance.
Please. You might be that dumb. The American people are not.
Then take their mad spinning, that this is all about the film Innocence of Muslims, which showed to a handful of people once and which has a trailer on YouTube. This “inflamed” the Arab street.
Please. If they’re that inflamed, there’s a cream for that.
Then, they drag the filmmaker from his bed in the middle of the night. Parole violation? Did you give a damn about that violation before the riots? Please. In the glare of camera lights, the administration just made itself responsible for anything anyone will ever post online for the rest of eternity.