During the darkest days of the Vietnam War Vermont Senator George Aiken proposed that we “unilaterally declare victory” and go home.
After all, he said, nothing else was working.
Today Jonah Goldberg suggested that the year 2011 was defined by people trying to turn failure into success by declaring victory. Concomitantly, they have also worked hard to turn success into failure.
As he puts it, 2011 “was all about pretending to be winning while really losing.”
Aiken’s idea did not freeze in time. After all, Goldberg says, it defines President Obama’s strategy in Iraq.
Goldberg trots out an impressive gallery of losers pretending to be winners. Celebrities have led the parade.
First among equals was Charlie Sheen. Having lost his job and whatever was left of his reputation Sheen went on talk shows to bask in the blow of victory.
Kim Kardashian received special mention for having turned her “success” as a porn star into a celebrity empire. When Kim K topped it off by walking down the aisle as a blushing bride, she had, presumably, found redemption in the arms of a loving husband.
Isn’t that one of America’s great cultural problems: how can we maintstream porn stars?
As you know, Kim’s marriage had a very short shelf-life. We are now anxiously waiting for her to transform that conspicuous failure into success.
If anyone can spin straw into gold, Kim K can.
And you thought that alchemy was dead!
Cultural attitudes are formed by the media. Last year the Tea Party enjoyed an extraordinary electoral success. For that the media labeled them losers.
The Republican electorate has happily accepted the judgment. It is now preparing to nominate a presidential candidate who is furthest from the Tea Party.
In Congress, House Republicans promoted the policies and passed the bills that their constituents favored.
Senate Democrats let all the bills die.
The media told the world that the House Republicans had failed.
The media portrayed the Tea Party as a bunch of losers. When a psychotic Jared Loughner opened fire in Tucson, injuring Gabrielle Giffords and killing one of her aides, the media was happy to blame Sarah Palin and Tea Party rhetoric.
When liberals and progressives used more incendiary rhetoric against Republicans the media that they were showing great strength and fortitude.
Naturally, the media portrayed the Occupy crowd as winners. Having accomplished nothing they became media darlings.
In Goldberg’s words: “Speaking of protest, consider the Occupy Wall Street movement. Not since the Hebrews killed themselves at Masada has there been a group that more obviously won by losing. Of course, the Jews at Masada were freedom fighters battling Roman imperialism. The Occupy Wall Streeters think they’re fighting imperialism when they throw a tantrum about having to pay their debts.”
He continues: “Back home, tea-party politicians who truly won historic midterm-election victories are cast as dangerous losers. The Occupiers lost their bongs and yurts to bulldozers in cities across America, but museums around the country are nonetheless desperate to acquire authentic Occupy-movement artifacts to commemorate their glorious but unspecified successes. Unfortunately, the tea parties cannot work the refs of history this way, because they clean up their mess after they get together.”
The administrations’ foreign policy failures in the Middle East have been masterfully spun as great successes.
Picking up the success/failure theme today Caroline Glick shows how foreign policy failure has been spun as success: “Obama's decision in February to abandon then-president Hosni Mubarak, the US's most dependable ally in the Arab world, in favor of the protesters in Tahrir Square was hailed by Obama's supporters as a victory for democracy and freedom against tyranny. By supporting the protesters against the US ally, Obama argued that he was advancing US interests by showing the Muslim world the US favored the people over their leaders.
“Ten months later, the Egyptian people has responded to this populist policy by giving jihadist parties a two-thirds majority in parliamentary elections. For the first time in 30 years, the strategic anchor of US power in the Arab world - the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty - is in danger. Indeed, there is no reason to believe it will survive.”
Turning failure into success is not just this year’s theme: it characterizes the age of Obama.
No American president came to the White House with fewer real successes. To promote the Obama presidency media propagandists have had to tout his failures as successes while painting the real successes of other people as failures.
It doesn’t matter how the economy is doing. Obama declares it a success.
Goldberg writes: “The economy continued to languish while the president declared victory over a Depression that never was and touted himself as the most legislatively successful president ever — with the ‘possible exceptions’ of FDR, LBJ, and Lincoln.
“Meanwhile, we are approaching the third year of the long winter Obama once celebrated as a ‘recovery summer.’ Its chief selling points are an unemployment rate statistically lowered by more Americans giving up hope of finding a job, and the claim that millions of jobs have been ‘created or saved.’ This bogus locution allows Obama to claim every job he doesn’t destroy as a win.”
So, the Obama-loving media has helped transform hope into hype. If your candidate can’t govern, you do not have too many other options.