Ed Driscoll

Speaking Truth To Powerful Writers

Mark Steyn notes the odd dichotomy of President Obama’s hangers-on, beginning with Valerie Jarrett, “senior advisor” to Mr. Obama, who famously uttered the hoariest of leftwing cliches this week and claimed to be speaking “truth to power” to Fox News, the sole outlier in an otherwise state-run media oligarchy:

The Senior Advisor seems to have forgotten that she is the power. Admittedly, this is a recurring lapse on the part of the Administration. There was Barack Obama only the other day blaming everything on the President – no, no, silly, not him, the other fellow, the Designated Fall Guy who stepped down as head of state in January to accept the new constitutional position of Blame Czar. Musing on problems in Afghanistan, Obama blamed the “long years of drift” under his predecessor. The new President – okay, newish President – has been Drifter-in-Chief for almost a year but he’s too busy speaking truth to the former power to get on top of the situation. It could be a while yet. In his more self-regarding moments, such as his speech to the UN, he gives the strong impression that the “long years of drift” began in 1776.

Rocco Landesman, head honcho at the National Endowment for the Arts, seems closer to the reality of the situation. In his keynote address to the 2009 “Grantmakers in the Arts” Conference, Landesman hailed Obama as “the most powerful writer since Julius Caesar”. He didn’t mean a “powerful writer” as in a compelling voice, gripping narrative, vivid characterization, command of language, etc. He meant a “powerful writer” as in Caesar was king of the world, and now Obama is. He came, he saw, he stimulated: “If you accept the premise, and I do, that the United States is the most powerful country in the world, then Barack Obama is the most powerful writer since Julius Caesar. That has to be good for American artists.”

I suppose so. He could invade somewhere and force the natives to accept  degrading roles in NEA-funded performance art. He could take out the Iranian nuclear program by carpet-bombing it with unreadable literary novels. That is, if you “accept the premise” that the United States is the most powerful country in the world. Rocco Landesman may, but it’s not clear, from his actions (or inactions) in Eastern Europe, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere, that the President does. But, even so, it seems an odd pitch to “American artists”. Rocco Landesman, Speaking Goof to Power, isn’t the first Obama groupie to enjoy the kinky frisson of groveling obsequiousness, but he’s set an impressive new standard in public revelation thereof. Rocco’s aunt, Fran Landesman, is the great lyricist of “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most” as well as “The Ballad Of The Sad Young Men”. But surely there are few sadder middle-aged men than her nephew prostrating himself before his master as the most literate global colossus in two millennia.

In the latest edition of their weekly Poliwood series on PJTV, Lionel Chetwynd made a keen observation to fellow Hollywood maven Roger L. Simon:

We are now going to judge literature on the basis of the power of the writer. So the sword is mightier than the pen…

So who are the great writers of all time? Of the last century, I guess Adolf Hitler – he was a pretty powerful guy! Mao Tse-tung? Yeah! Joseph Stalin? I guess the more powerful you are, the more innocent human beings you send to an awful death, the better writer you are.

Anarcho-Authoritarianism? Liberal Fascism? Landesman is soaking in it.