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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Chris Matthews and His Self-Awareness Problem

Eisenhower's famous speech warning about the dangers of the military-industrial complex is a favorite topic of bloggers. It also provides the backbone for Eugene Jarecki's documentary Why We Fight, which won the documentary prize at Sundance this year. I saw it over the weekend, and these are some of the fun facts I learned:

. As Secretary of Defense under GHW Bush, Cheney paid Halliburton subsidiary KBR $3.9 million to compile a report on how private companies could take over many of the functions of the Army. Surprising absolutely no-one, KBR came back and said they thought it was a bang-up idea. They subsequently got a fat no-bid Pentagon contract to provide said services. Cheney then became CEO of Halliburton in 1995, and at that time he had a personal wealth valued at approximately $1 million. By the time he left in 2000, Cheney's personal wealth had grown to over $70 million. Nice.

. The B-2 Bomber has its various parts made in all 50 states – such that if anyone ever suggested phasing out the B-2, a chorus of "liberal" congresspeople would leap to the podium in its defense as an absolutely indispensable part of the war on – well, whatever we're at war with at the time.

. According to Eisenhower's granddaughter, he also said “God help this country when someone sits at this desk who doesn't know as much about the military as I do.” He might have had visions of a future president whose personal exit strategy from the Viet Nam war was significantly more efficient than any he had from Iraq.

. Best Rumsfeld quote: “From my standpoint, I think numbers are almost distracting.”

. Best Gore Vidal quote: “We live in the United States of Amnesia.”

. Blowback is not the unwanted consequences of actions taken by the United States – it is the unwanted consequences of actions taken by the United States that were deliberately kept secret from the American public so that when there is retaliation the people have no idea when it's in response to.

Director Eugene Jarecki also appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews after winning the Sundance Award. Matthews was, as always, anxious to display his personal knowledge of history:
MATTHEWS: You ought to do a big movie on Ike. Somebody should do a big documentary on Ike.

JARECKI: Well, he‘s very largely in the film. I hope...
See the damn film, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Because I think he‘s been underestimated. I think the liberals who have had so much influence in the media over these years have denounced him as an old man out of date, when in fact he kept us out of Indochina.

JARECKI: Well, you have got to see the film. He‘s in there. I do that. I try, at least.
Earth to Matthews: When they talk about the “liberal media” THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT YOU, MORON. Now, I don't think you're liberal, and obviously you don't think so either, so on that we agree. But when the cabal arises in condemnation of the “liberal bias of the media” they're talking about people such as yourself....Tom Brokaw....Dan Rather...Pumpkinhead...Wolf Blitzer. People I dismiss as being merely lazy, ratings-hungry and not particularly interested in any ideology except the cult of self, but the chorus screaming “left wing media” will slap that label on anyone who isn't foaming at the mouth and bleeding right-wing talking points from their eyeballs. Anything less than Hannity-esque seizures of rage or Ann Coulter histrionic bipolarity episodes is perceived as knee-jerk bed wetting liberalism. You want them to love you, Chris? Well, that's wonderful, but it's going to take more than a little Ike buffing. My advice is to develop a nice OxyContin habit first. It'll insulate you from both reality and the consequences of your actions, as well as ease the pain of having to sit in the room with yourself as your knuckles sprout hair and make their way to the ground.