First art imitates life, and now we have life imitating art. If we got rid of the art, then we'd just have people repeating the same tragicomedic mistakes � over and over and over � without anyone to make fun of their dumbitude. It all shows just how prescient Santayana was when he wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
I am, of course, talking about the classic black satire, Dr. Strangelove. The movie was art imitating life, specifically the Cold War of the 1950's and early '60's. Now we've got life imitating art � Dubya Strangelove, as it were.
The similarities are positively eerie. We've got the good-natured but aimless and clueless Dubya reprising Peter's Seller's role of President Merkin Muffley (the entire male line of the Bushes appears to be genetically Muffleyeske. What a bunch of spaghetti-spined wimps � except when they start a war. Then, it's "Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!" which was the last line in the movie, cried out by the wheelchair-bound Strangelove, who is so ecstatic about the nuclear war that has just started that he rises up from his chair, his paralysis overcome by the joy of destruction.)
I decided years ago Daddy Bush is so dull-witted he couldn't cut soft butter with his forehead, but at least didn't try to start WWIII, unlike his squished-head, lop-eyed son. As far as I'm concerned, if you want to disprove evolution, just take a look at the slippery-slope descent of American presidents from Washington to Dubya. The Bushes appear to be as dangerously inbred as British royalty. If it keeps up, in another century we'll be ruled by monkeys. Monkeys with tiny, little rudimentary heads, with eyes set too close together ("Look, son, there's goes King Chim Chim on his ducal tricycle!" "Daddy, why does his crown keep falling down over his eyes?").
And this guy is trying to slowly start Holy World War I (a "warren terrism," as he calls it). Let's call it mission creep by creepy missionaries.
Then we've got Richard "Prince of Darkness" Perle, whose head full of tangled brain-wiring has apparently shorted out just as badly as his genocidal dopplelganger, Sterling Hayden's Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, who started WWIII to save the US from having its "precious bodily fluids" polluted by the "Commie rats" (in today's world, read "Iraqi" for "Commie"). I wonder if Perle secretly has a taste for stogies and drinks made from "distilled water and pure grain alcohol"?
If things go really bad, I wonder how Perle will go down in history? I've seen lots of books that are compilations of serial killers, but I can't remember one that covers government mass-murderers � at least domestic ones. Since history is written by the winners, everyone is familiar with foreign mass murderers � war criminals, really � but I've yet to see one that covers American mass murderers like Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, McNamara, Daddy Dumbya, Clinton, Albright, Reno, Kissinger, Nixon....Perle, obviously, would be in that book.
And now it looks like we're involved in the early 21st century version of the Cold War � quickly becoming hot � as Dubya's administration rattles sabers and talks about nuking several postage-stamp-sized countries. Just astonishing. We've got the whole of history to guide us, and still the US is making every mistake ever made by every past Empire. And if this nonsense keeps up, we're going to end up like every Empire in the history of the world � collapsed. The perps in government will, of course, scratch their heads, furrow their brows, and go "Huh?" (The sheeple will also go, "Huh?" once they unglue their eyes from the collective Coliseum known as the TV.) If these guys have any kind of education, they apparently got it from reading the back of a box of cereal. And maybe they got their degrees from inside that box � the degrees that read "Harvard" and "Yale." ("Hey, lookie, I even got a toy whistle, too!")
I'll bet there are a lot of people out there right now who understand how Cassandra felt. She was the figure from Greek mythology who the gods gave the gift of prophecy. She really could see the future. The gods also made sure no one would believe her. Such is the power of myth. Prophets really are never honored in their home countries � most of the citizens don't know enough to peek over the walls of the propaganda-box and see the truth outside. Hey, if these stories didn't embody universal truths they wouldn't have survived thousands of years, right?
I don't think it takes any kind of mystical gift of prophecy to see the future, at least in a general way. All you have to do is look at the past, which always repeats itself, and then pay attention. Both Polybius and Plato, for example, noticed that democracy turns into tyranny. Where are we? Do-do do-do, do-do do-do. Next stop: The Tyranny Zone.
The hideous Madeline Albright can easily be the brutal, ape-like Major T.J. "King" Kong (played by ex-rodeo clown Slim Pickens). Kong's the one who rode the Bomb as it fell from the aircraft's belly, waving his hat and yelling "Yee-haw!" To be truthful, I consider Albright (along with Janet Reno) to be more Frankensteinish than anything else. They lack only bolts in their necks (every time I see the hideous Reno and think of her involvement in the incineration of Waco, I see this image of her as Frankenstein's monster in The Bride of Frankenstein, muttering, "Dead...I love dead"). The catastrophically incompetent Reno has no business being governer of Florida, but I can think of an ancient Greek isle (one populated by stocky ugly female softball players with buzz cuts) she would greatly enjoy ruling.
As the warmongering Sgt. Bat Guano (played by Keenan Wynn) we have William Bennett, who had fortunately disappeared for several years. At first I thought he had tripped over his excruciatingly boring bat-guano doorstop of a book, The Book of Virtues, and possibly put himself into a coma, but if he did, now he's back, fat on taxpayer money, all eyedar and eardar and brown-nosedar and slot-machinedar, searching for what he perceives as the "enemies" of the US government (a government which he apparently perceives as being identical with the country), whether they are foreign or domestic, animate or inanimate.
There is one thing I will say about Guano: as ignorant, warmongering, and pig-headed authoritarian as he was, he at least had the courage to join the military, something that our current crop of chickenhawk arm-chair generals have done their damnedest to avoid.
The satyr Bill Clinton would make a wonderful Buck Turgidson, the drinking, partying, womanizing general played by George C. Scott (Turgidson, fortunately, was able to throw a ho(e)-down without getting impeached).
Turgidson was based on General Curtis LeMay (one of the clumsy architects of the Vietnam non-war), whose career reminds me of lines from Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach: "And we are here as on a darkling plain/Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight/Where ignorant armies clash by night."
As for Dr. Strangelove himself, that role was taken by the booger-eating Henry "I Learned Propaganda from Herr Goebbels" Kissinger a long time ago. You could put Strangelove's and Kissinger's pictures next to each other and caption it, "Separated at Birth." Want nightmares? Imagine both of their heads on one body. If your children misbehave, tell them they/it lives in their closet or under their beds. It would scare them even more than the urban legend about the razor-sharp Hook dangling from the teen-agers' car as they're parked in Lover's Lane. I sincerely hope Henry doesn't have a fetish for wearing one black glove.
There are of course some differences between the movie and real life. There's no Doomsday device (give the government time; just give them time). In the movie the "shadow" government at least waited until the bomb was irrevocably on its way. Here, we've got the sniveling, uh, weasels of the State heading for the hills before anyone even says "boo" to them. My first thought was "What about babes?" then my second thought was, "They don't need them," since the Essence of Politician is first screw each to other, and, after that, all the citizens.
If the "shadow" government survived and everyone else didn't, then the world would be repopulated by fascist ubermench troglodytes � literally the mutated Morlocks from H.G. Well's The Time Machine. Now that Hillary and Bill's Traveling Pandemonium Horror Show has been cancelled, Senator (sob) Hillary's now three-quarters of the way toward her true Morlockian self, and getting yuckier by the minute (although I doubt her descendents will be much trouble � they'd be unable to run very fast since they'd have her fat ass. They'd be shaped like one of those bowling-pin Bobo clown figures. The kind that when you knock them down they bounce right back up because they are so bottom-heavy.)
One of my mini-nightmares is some Mad Scientist with a truly wicked sense of humor creating an animal from the DNA of Hillary, Jennifer Lopez and a goat. Then you'd see some real butting contests.
When I was a teenager I used to think the B-52 that got through, nuked the Russians and started WWIII couldn't possibly happen. The government simply could not mess up that bad. Oh yeah? What a foolish, naive boy I was! How about the student visas for two of the dead Sept. 11 hijackers showing up at their flight school six months after they flew the planes into the WTC? Who's in charge of the INS, Gilligan? A stoned Gilligan? How about Bob Denver's beatnik character from Dobie Gillis � Maynard G. Krebs? Maybe Maynard's in charge of the entire federal government! If the feds can't even get something as simple as a visa right, I'm to believe they can protect the citizens? Har har!
Ezra Pound once wrote, "The artist is the antenna of the race." He may have otherwise been an loopy as they come, but he got that one comment right on the mark. Dr. Strangelove is almost 40 years old, and it's still as relevant today as it was then.
I'm sure that Stanley Kubrick is chuckling right now. I know I am.