Readers of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four will remember the character Emmanuel Goldstein, Enemy of the People. It’s unclear whether Goldstein was a real person in Orwell’s nightmare surveillance society of the near future. That didn’t matter. As a focus of hate, hence as a sort of unifying ideological glue for the rulers of Oceania, Goldstein was plenty real. If he was a fiction, he was a convenient one, for he helped maintain the brotherhood of paranoia that kept society together.
Every day at 11:00, work would stop as people congregated around the ubiquitous two-way telescreens for the ritual two-minute hate:
As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience. Goldstein was the renegade and backslider who once, long ago (how long ago nobody quite remembered), had been one of the leading figures of the Party, almost on a level with Big Brother himself, and then had engaged in counter-revolutionary activities, had been condemned to death and had mysteriously escaped and disappeared.
The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure. He was the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party’s purity. All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teaching. Somewhere or other he was still alive and hatching his conspiracies: perhaps somewhere beyond the sea, under the protection of his foreign paymasters, perhaps even — so it was occasionally rumoured — in some hiding-place in Oceania itself.
In his inaugural address in January, Barack Obama promised to put “an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.”
I hope you’ve noticed how free from petty grievances, false promises, recriminations, and worn out dogmas public discourse has been since that glorious new dawn, 20 January 2009.
What, you haven’t noticed the promised political metanoia? Confidentially, I haven’t either. And I suspect at least part of the reason was dramatized by Orwell’s dystopian novel. The Obama administration and its PR enablers are addicted to blaming others for their own difficulties and failures.
The President likes to refer the economic crisis as a “mess” that he inherited from George Bush. But how does explain that the deficit was some $400 billion under President Bush and is projected to be about $2 trillion — $2 trillion — this year?
He doesn’t explain it. He blames others, especially President Bush.
What was unseemly in January is almost risible now. When will Obama take responsibility for failures that occur on his watch?
This is where Emmanuel Goldstein comes in. As Paul Shlichta noted in The American Thinker back in March, Orwell’s two-minute hate fests provide an uncomfortable analogue to the Obama administration’s amalgam of compulsory virtue and its inevitable concomitant: scapegoats. (Those who notice that “Goldstein” is a Jewish name might wish to ponder the Obama administration’s policies towards Israel.)
For reasons I have never completely understood, George Bush is the scapegoat-in-chief, the Emmanuel Goldstein of the piece. But there is a revolving cast of supporting scapegoats, other Enemies of the People: Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, the “mob” of citizens who dare to criticize their dear leaders in townhall meetings across the country. How the Obama administration, and the legacy media that pimps for it, loathe them!
A few years ago, Charles Krauthammer identified a new form of public insanity: Bush Derangement Syndrome he called it: “the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency — nay — the very existence of George W. Bush.”
I’m sure you’ve seen it in action. And no doubt you’ve noticed that it is infectious. Consider, if you will, the extraordinary reaction the very name “Sarah Palin” elicits.
Andrew Breitbart calls it the “George Bush by proxy syndrome.”
Now that Mr. Bush is quietly going about his retirement, this strain of rage — the GWB43 virus — has spread like wildfire, finding unsuspecting targets, each granting us greater perspective into what not long ago seemed like a mysterious phenomenon isolated only on our 43rd president.
The first person to catch the virus was Sarah Palin, whose family also was infected, including, unforgivably, her children.
Then it was Joe the Plumber, for asking a question.
Next were the Mormons.
Then it was Rush Limbaugh — who hit back.
Next, tax-day “tea party” attendees were “tea bagged.”
Then there was a beauty contestant.
And a Cambridge cop, too.
And now we have town-hall “mobs.”
Smile … you’ve been “community organized.”
“George Bush by Proxy Syndrome”: I like it. It has a certain lilt. But don’t forget about Emmanuel Goldstein and the ritual hate fests. As more and more of Obama’s policies come under attack — as his poll numbers continue their descent — you can expect to see more and more of this side of Hope and Change.
Obama came to office promising to “fundamentally transform the the United States of America.” Establishing his virtuous Green Republic requires not only cadres of self righteous ideologues. It also requires enemies. Linda Douglass, Obama’s communications director, has already invited you to send her the names of anyone who says or writes something “fishy” about the President’s policies. Nancy Pelosi, poor thing, sees swastikas everywhere, while Barbara Boxer and Robert Gibbs are terrified that some of the people criticizing the President are “well-dressed.”
Many people have pointed out Obama’s “yes-we-can” brotherhood is a sentimental boondoggle, as unrealistic as it is contrary to the traditional freedoms of American society. What has perhaps been less widely appreciated is the snarling underside of that vision, a compact of paranoia and scapegoating that is as dangerous as it is unattractive.