When Celebrity Politics Died

Tragedy often befalls fascination.  A day hiker falls to his death from a slippery overhang while peering down at a spectacular waterfall.  A child is swept into the breaking swells of the incoming tide while playing too close to the edge of an ocean-rinsed granite ledge.

Yet as Auden wrote in “Musée Des Beaux Arts”:

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure…

Four dead Americans in Benghazi.  No one responsible cares.  Dude.

Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

And a nation reaps tragedy from fascination in choosing a president because of his captivating celebrity, the color of his skin, and his speaking style.  Nothing else.  And we are expected to move on.  A black man as president, check.  Next up, a woman.

The serial fascination with celebrity politics – or, if you prefer, identity politics – moving on from race to gender, has appeared seamless as Hillary Clinton, with fragrant garlands inevitability headlining her trellis, has been anointed to succeed Barack Obama.  The electorate saddled up to ride another identity pony has been undeterred by the fiascos of the Obama presidency, either not paying attention or expecting something different the next time around.

An economy in shambles, historic joblessness, legislative debacles, constitutional breaches, the ObamaCare catastrophe, and abject foreign policy meltdowns – all of this is accented by increasing distrust in big government from IRS, Department of Justice, and NSA domestic spying scandals.  Wrapped in dissembling and divisiveness — the hallmarks of the Obama presidency — flippantly dismissed by the mainstream opinion-makers who have escorted Hillary as the next celebrity darling to redo all of it.  Or repeat all of it.

Until Benghazi.  Benghazi not only was the place where four Americans were murdered.  Benghazi was the place where celebrity died, marked by cowardice, incompetence, complicity, and casual disregard of duty.

Until Benghazi, Hillary requited the fascination with her as the rightful celebrity next in line for the White House.  Unable to claim any accomplishments, despite the apparition of an impressive résumé, Hillary at least avoided having to account for any monumental screw-ups.  After all, celebrities don’t have to be accountable for anything other than sustaining their celebrity.  Until Benghazi.

With the job as secretary of state, her first having direct consequential authority, Hillary failed at due diligence, the most fundamental task of statecraft.  This was no miscalculated act of omission.  This was pre-mediated amnesia.  Hillary would prefer us to believe she was disengaged from the decision-making chain with Benghazi – just another tiresome detail buried amongst dozens of similarly trivial chores, flyspeck annoyances unfit to merit a one-line entry in her million-mile travelogue.

Fascination with celebrity politics, where glamor, virtue-speak, and cosmetic posturing have displaced any notion of authentic leadership, had its beginnings with JFK, taking a breather until the Bill Clinton years.  George W. Bush’s failure to draw bipartisan support, in part, was due to his antipathy towards celebrity.

In former times, leadership was the ability to mobilize complex forces in resolving conflict, protecting the sovereign integrity of the nation.  But no longer.  We have lately defined leadership as mobilizing adolescent emotions for shallow, fleeting, and overwrought causes, where oratory has a higher purpose than action.  Where campaign fashion – pant creases and manicures – and high-stepping the ascending platform towards the teleprompter triumph over moral courage.

Great presidents and statesmen resolve conflicts.  Conflicts where resolutions are unclear, uncertain, and nearly impossible to imagine, accompanied by perilous threats to one’s reputation and legacy.  That is why FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Reagan, Polk, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington occupy the mantle.  Presidents who dither, demur from duty, or delegate valor join the likes of James Buchanan and Barack Obama in the unredeemable landfill of history.

Obama’s conduct the night of the paramilitary terrorist assault was despicable enough – AWOL as usual, designed to insulate him from his national security nihilism in the midst of his re-election auction.  But Hillary was supposed to be better, more engaged, tougher-minded, the architect of “smart power.”  Instead she abandoned any pretense of statesmanlike leadership, calculating the most plausible deniability to best suit her own next election campaign.

Of course, it is increasingly obvious that Hillary either engineered or eagerly participated in a crude and disgraceful cover-up, lied about her complicity to sustain a self-serving political narrative, and most egregiously dismissed the intelligence of the American people while insulting the families of the assassinated ambassador Stevens, along with his brave dead colleagues Woods, Doherty, and Smith.

Hillary’s ascension died that night in Benghazi.  Stalled not by a glass ceiling, but by a bloody battle waged on the consulate compound and CIA Annex rooftop.  The celebrity-in-waiting couldn’t be bothered.  Stevens's, Woods's, Doherty's, and Smith’s deaths will not have been in vain if celebrity politics also expired that night.

Tragedy often befalls fascination.  A day hiker falls to his death from a slippery overhang while peering down at a spectacular waterfall.  A child is swept into the breaking swells of the incoming tide while playing too close to the edge of an ocean-rinsed granite ledge.

Yet as Auden wrote in “Musée Des Beaux Arts”:

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure…

Four dead Americans in Benghazi.  No one responsible cares.  Dude.

Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

And a nation reaps tragedy from fascination in choosing a president because of his captivating celebrity, the color of his skin, and his speaking style.  Nothing else.  And we are expected to move on.  A black man as president, check.  Next up, a woman.

The serial fascination with celebrity politics – or, if you prefer, identity politics – moving on from race to gender, has appeared seamless as Hillary Clinton, with fragrant garlands inevitability headlining her trellis, has been anointed to succeed Barack Obama.  The electorate saddled up to ride another identity pony has been undeterred by the fiascos of the Obama presidency, either not paying attention or expecting something different the next time around.

An economy in shambles, historic joblessness, legislative debacles, constitutional breaches, the ObamaCare catastrophe, and abject foreign policy meltdowns – all of this is accented by increasing distrust in big government from IRS, Department of Justice, and NSA domestic spying scandals.  Wrapped in dissembling and divisiveness — the hallmarks of the Obama presidency — flippantly dismissed by the mainstream opinion-makers who have escorted Hillary as the next celebrity darling to redo all of it.  Or repeat all of it.

Until Benghazi.  Benghazi not only was the place where four Americans were murdered.  Benghazi was the place where celebrity died, marked by cowardice, incompetence, complicity, and casual disregard of duty.

Until Benghazi, Hillary requited the fascination with her as the rightful celebrity next in line for the White House.  Unable to claim any accomplishments, despite the apparition of an impressive résumé, Hillary at least avoided having to account for any monumental screw-ups.  After all, celebrities don’t have to be accountable for anything other than sustaining their celebrity.  Until Benghazi.

With the job as secretary of state, her first having direct consequential authority, Hillary failed at due diligence, the most fundamental task of statecraft.  This was no miscalculated act of omission.  This was pre-mediated amnesia.  Hillary would prefer us to believe she was disengaged from the decision-making chain with Benghazi – just another tiresome detail buried amongst dozens of similarly trivial chores, flyspeck annoyances unfit to merit a one-line entry in her million-mile travelogue.

Fascination with celebrity politics, where glamor, virtue-speak, and cosmetic posturing have displaced any notion of authentic leadership, had its beginnings with JFK, taking a breather until the Bill Clinton years.  George W. Bush’s failure to draw bipartisan support, in part, was due to his antipathy towards celebrity.

In former times, leadership was the ability to mobilize complex forces in resolving conflict, protecting the sovereign integrity of the nation.  But no longer.  We have lately defined leadership as mobilizing adolescent emotions for shallow, fleeting, and overwrought causes, where oratory has a higher purpose than action.  Where campaign fashion – pant creases and manicures – and high-stepping the ascending platform towards the teleprompter triumph over moral courage.

Great presidents and statesmen resolve conflicts.  Conflicts where resolutions are unclear, uncertain, and nearly impossible to imagine, accompanied by perilous threats to one’s reputation and legacy.  That is why FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Reagan, Polk, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington occupy the mantle.  Presidents who dither, demur from duty, or delegate valor join the likes of James Buchanan and Barack Obama in the unredeemable landfill of history.

Obama’s conduct the night of the paramilitary terrorist assault was despicable enough – AWOL as usual, designed to insulate him from his national security nihilism in the midst of his re-election auction.  But Hillary was supposed to be better, more engaged, tougher-minded, the architect of “smart power.”  Instead she abandoned any pretense of statesmanlike leadership, calculating the most plausible deniability to best suit her own next election campaign.

Of course, it is increasingly obvious that Hillary either engineered or eagerly participated in a crude and disgraceful cover-up, lied about her complicity to sustain a self-serving political narrative, and most egregiously dismissed the intelligence of the American people while insulting the families of the assassinated ambassador Stevens, along with his brave dead colleagues Woods, Doherty, and Smith.

Hillary’s ascension died that night in Benghazi.  Stalled not by a glass ceiling, but by a bloody battle waged on the consulate compound and CIA Annex rooftop.  The celebrity-in-waiting couldn’t be bothered.  Stevens's, Woods's, Doherty's, and Smith’s deaths will not have been in vain if celebrity politics also expired that night.