‘Beauty’ of Trump’s warmongering exposes ugliness of liberal media
Yonden Lhatoo is sickened by the sudden outpouring of support among liberal journalists for Donald Trump after he bombed Syria in a policy U-turn
“I am guided by the beauty of our weapons,” Leonard Cohen muses in the opening song to his 1988 album, I’m Your Man. I struggle as much as anyone to fathom the symbolism in the late, great poet-songwriter’s lyrics, but he probably didn’t have America’s penchant for warmongering in mind.
So pardon me while I continue to pick my jaw off the floor after watching MSNBC news anchor Brian Williams wax eloquent about the “beauty” of the firepower that US President Donald Trump unleashed upon Syria last week.
“We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two US Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean,” Williams gushed. “I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: ‘I am guided by the beauty of our weapons’.”
Watch: Brian Williams is ‘guided by the beauty of our weapons’ in Syria strikes
Williams was awestruck by footage of the Tomahawk missiles – 59 in total – that Trump’s forces fired at an airfield base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack that the West is blaming on the Syrian government.
What is this man smoking? The same hallucinogens he was on when he fabricated that story about his helicopter being shot down in the 2003 Iraq invasion?
Williams is not the only American journalist getting off on war porn. There’s been a quantum shift in mainstream media reporting on Trump, now that he’s been turned around by the neocons or whatever forces are responsible for ensuring that the US does what it has always done.
From dismissing him daily as a racist, misogynist, narcissist and proto-fascist beyond salvation, the liberal media now cannot find enough platitudes to bestow upon him. All of a sudden Trump is a man whose “heart comes first”, and he can now lay claim to the title of “leader of the free world”.
And all he had to do to achieve the impossible metamorphosis from Mr Hyde to Dr Jekyll was bypass the constitution to dive into a war that he swore to oppose.
How supremely ironic that Trump’s bleeding-heart liberal detractors are now applauding his warmongering, while the “deplorables” who put him in the White House feel betrayed that it’s back to business as usual, instead of the domestic pivot under his much-touted “America first” focus.
All this reminds me of Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood’s great revisionist Western film of 1992, whose depiction of American journalism is a side theme, but strikingly applicable to our times.
The “journalist” in the film is one W. W. Beauchamp, an unsavoury, opportunistic dime novelist, played to cringeworthy perfection by actor Saul Rubinek. He switches allegiances at the drop of a hat, each time latching on to the man with the bigger gun and better story. Unforgiven also has a recurring theme of fact being distorted and absorbed as truth.
Beauchamp reminds me of those luminaries of the liberal media who were cheerleaders of the bombing and invasion of Iraq, “embedding” themselves with a conquering army to tell the story from the winning side, then realising too late they had been played like so many fiddles.
Now history repeats itself as they push their country into another Middle East misadventure, having learned nothing from every American intervention in the Arab world that has ended in utter failure. Trump said this week that he told visiting President Xi Jinping (習近平) he had just bombed Iraq instead of Syria – what’s the difference, right?
If you must quote Cohen to reflect our troubled times, how about this instead: “Everybody knows the war is over / Everybody knows the good guys lost / Everybody knows the fight was fixed / The poor stay poor, the rich get rich / That’s how it goes / Everybody knows”.
Yonden Lhatoo is a senior editor at the Post