By J.E. Dyer
Back during the Cold War, and for a good decade after it officially ended, one of the entertainments available to people in the intelligence services was reading the sycophantic drivel written by the state-controlled press about the leaders and policies of Communist nations.
There were other authoritarians out there running countries into the ground, but the Communists were the hands-down winners in the slurp-and-smack media sycophancy sweepstakes. Some of the best times were when one Communist leader would send another laudatory greetings on his birthday, or on a revolution or independence day. In those cases, the media on both ends were involved in the riot of exclamatory acclaim. Poems would be written (often purportedly by starry-eyed “students”), and would unfurl in endless verses sandwiched between veritable explosions of complimentary adjectives. The translations into English (typically done by the old Foreign Broadcast Information Service) added to the festive and hilarious atmosphere. The difficulty of capturing national styles in sensible English translations was often apparent.
But some of the most admirable efforts came from the ranks of fake criticism, a charming conceit of state-controlled media in which state-approved writers pretended to openly discuss critical themes about the regime by staging an army of straw men and then mowing them down — with a pretense of disinterested objectivity — through the use of Party talking points. A state media organ that could elegantly combine self-consciously sophomoric verse, faux criticism, and full-throated ritual adulation pulled off quite a tour de force. You wanted to leap to your feet for a standing ovation. You could just imagine Big Comrade, surveying his domain and knowing he owned everything in men’s hearts: art, artifice, criticism, complaint, consensus.
I’m of two minds about the standing ovation for the new Obama Virtual Museum being perpetrated by the Washington Post. (H/t: T. Becket Adams, Washington Examiner) It’s definitely worth more than a golf clap, however. I’d put it without demur at the tennis-audience applause level.
You really should just check it out for yourself. Be prepared in advance for the spectacle of Obama glimpsing his reflection as Abraham Lincoln…
Read the rest at LibertyUnyielding.
Photo credit DonkeyHotey