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"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show
"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket
"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming
September 16, 2005
Now More Than Ever, It's Critical That We Learn Nothing From History
Mike Gerber likes to refer to the History Channel as the Learn Nothing From History Channel. This is one of my favorite jokes ever made by anyone.
In honor of this joke, I would like to point something out. Everyone is familiar with this famous section of the October, 2004 article by Ron Suskind:
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.
The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality..."
Now, here's part of George Kennan's 1946 description of the Soviet Union in his famous "Long Telegram":
[The Soviet Union] is seemingly inaccessible to considerations of reality in its basic reactions. For it, the vast fund of objective fact about human society is not, as with us, the measure against which outlook is constantly being tested and re-formed, but a grab bag from which individual items are selected arbitrarily and tendenciously to bolster an outlook already preconceived... Problem of how to cope with this force is undoubtedly greatest task our diplomacy has ever faced and probably greatest it will ever have to face.
Remember the Long Telegram is one of the best-known documents ever in US foreign policy, and part of the assigned reading in any college class on post-World War II history. So you'd expect a senior adviser in any administration would realize the peculiar resonance of what he/she was saying about "reality."
However, you'd expect wrong! That's because these days senior White House advisers don't have the time to do old-fashioned things like reading. They're too busy watching the Learn Nothing From History Channel.Posted at September 16, 2005 05:49 AM | TrackBack