File under: "History is Not Your Mommy".
A few days ago I noticed that all three of these Clinton-era three hobgoblins were top trending on Twitter and I had to double-check to make sure it wasn't 1995.
Nope. Still 2020. Damn.
So put a pin in that and lets jump back in time a little more than 26 centuries to talk for a minute about history's most famous lesbian -- Sappho of Lesbos -- who was, during her time, one of the most popular and prolific lyric poets in ancient Greece. Statues were erected in her honor. Solon and Plato gave stirring speeches to her genius. She was considered Homer's equal, and frequently referred to simply as "The Poetess", just as Homer was "The Poet".
And yet today almost nothing is known of her life and of the 10,000 lines of her poetry -- which was widely read in antiquity -- only a few fragments survive.
Today, with a few clicks of the mouse from anywhere on the planet I could have a dozen different translations of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey shipped to my home, so how exactly did Sappho's work suddenly all but vanish from history during 9th century?
One story holds that her collected works were put to the torch by leaders of the Catholic Church because they disapproved of her morals. A more likely and less dramatic (but no less devastating) explanation is that copying manuscripts was hard work that used up a lot of papyrus, and the celibate, male, Catholic monks who were charged with preserving the written works on antiquity decided that the brilliant work of a long-dead lesbian poetess was not worth recording and passing along to future generations.
Because history is not a law of nature.
History is not physics. History is not plumbing.
And history is definitely not your Mommy.
History is not here to break up your stupid fights or clean up your messes. It's not history's job to comfort you with promises of retroactively balancing the scales of justice decades from now. History is not here to tell you that you're wonderful when the world knows you're not. History is not here to comfort you with fairy tales about how, in the larger scheme of things, all the shit you did really wasn't so bad when the world knows it was.
Pick whichever quote you like --
"History is a set of lies agreed upon." -- Napoleon Bonaparte.-- but it all comes down to the same thing. "History" is what gets passed along. "History" is whatever those with the power to interpret events and stamp their interpretation as "Official" chose it to be. "History" is a brutal, never-ending barroom brawl over who gets to decide what really happened and why it really happened.
"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it." -- Winston Churchill.
"They got a name for the winners in the world. I want a name when I lose." -- Steely Dan.
And right now the American political media is doing what they have always done in the face of existential threats to our democracy which they helped to create: expending enormous institutional energies to make sure that history lets them and their friends and fellow travelers off the hook.
Consider this chummy tribunal of well-paid, media insiders warning that naughty people may be laughing now, but the Righteous Judgement of History will definitely come for them and boy howdy are they gonna be sorry!
Rush transcript, with emphasis added:
MIKE BARNACLE: Everything we're talking about, Parnas, Pompeo, Pence, Trump, all of this is being recorded by an element among us called history. In terms of history, the snap of a finger. The behavior of the Republicans in the united states senator in 1974, it's literally a first.When I look at this clutch of media insiders, I spy with my little eye ... one longtime aide to Darrel Issa and former member of the Breitbart goon squad ... one human husk and plagiarist who is now in charge of refilling the Morning Joe Both Sides Do It water cooler every day (or, it is rumored, he is whipped through the streets by Mika Brzezinski) ... one straight-up, life-long Republican ratfucker who found that credulous Liberals would give him more wealth and fame and influence than he ever dreamed possible if he called Donald Trump a shithead ... and two hosts who boost Donald Trump's campaign ointo orbit by giving him million of dollars in free publicity and soft-soap "interviews" on their teevee show.
So my question to you, and to you, too, Rick, is what has happened to the institution, not just the Republicans, but specifically now in the Senate Republicans, what has happened to our institutions is Trump slowly altering things, maybe forever in this country?
RICK WILSON: I wouldn't say slowly.
[OFF CAMERA] Hope not.
RICK WILSON: Barnacle, I would say he's altered them profoundly and swiftly. The idea of standing up for your state or your district for a Republican particularly is gone. You're judged only if you're loyal to Trump or not. That's the only scoring system in the Republican party. And he has reduced Washington to this corrupt and sort of corrupted environment. Sort of corrupted environment.
KURT BARDELLA: I think about being not just history like 1974, but their own history. I remember when he was investigating Benghazi. He put out a report saying security is a priority and the administration failed, that's why we're doing the investigation, that's why we are investigating Hillary Clinton. Where is that Mike Pompeo now when someone's security, an ambassador's, has been compromised? Where is Jim Jordan who was on that committee? All these Republicans turned away from their own history, it wasn't that long ago. It was six years ago they were doing this.
SCARBOROUGH: As a "Morning Joe" contributor, give our viewers a firsthand look back to what it was like when it was Republicans that were investigating Barack Obama. The hypocrisy is staggering.
BARDELLA: It is so different. I was thinking about the interview last night with Parnas. If something like that was going on when we were in charge of Congress, we would have had a subpoena out that night, wouldn't have waited until the next day. During that interview you would have breaking news, House Republican Darrell Issa subpoenas for testimony. When anything happened that hinted of potential scandal or impropriety with Obama, Republicans were the first to issue subpoenas, have hearings, do closed-door depositions, things they rail about now, they were a big fan of closed-door depositions when they were the majority, it is complete hypocrisy, seeing a different standard. Frankly, we never had close to the volume of evidence that we have now when we were going after them.
And all of them have clearly escaped the the Righteous Judgement of History by a very wide margin.
Or consider the case of George Conway, who made his bones as a pro-cancer lawyer working for Big Tobacco and as one of the Republican goons who tried to blow up the Clinton presidency by any means necessary. Husband to Kellyanne Conway. Running buddies with Anne Coulter. And here he is now, cozy in his media sinecure, issuing dire warnings about how Righteous Judgement of History will surely come for naughty people in, oh, five or ten years...
"Republican senators need to look themselves in the mirror," @gtconway3d says, "and think of what it's going to be like 5 years from now, 10 years, what their legacies are going to be. This evidence is going to keep coming out. Truth has a way of coming out..." pic.twitter.com/V5yiPZWNLb— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 22, 2020
Or consider the case of a sweaty, bipedal rodent named Reince Priebus who, if the Righteous Judgement of History were actually a thing, would be spending the rest of his miserable life going door-to-door begging the forgiveness of the American people. But instead:
CBS hires Reince Priebus, whose firms work for the GOP, the Trump Organization, and lobbying clientsOr consider that Ken Starr still walks the Earth and is solicited for his opinions.
Reince Priebus is a Republican operative who is best-known for his humiliating tenure as President Donald Trump’s first White House chief of staff. Priebus now holds senior roles at affiliated lobbying and legal firms; his law firm is connected to the Trump Organization and has collected over $280,000 in fees from GOP campaign groups such as the Republican National Committee.
Despite all that, CBS News announced on January 22 that the network has hired Priebus as a political analyst. He appeared on its coverage of the Senate impeachment trial, where he was the only political operative guest and his conflicts of interest went undisclosed...
Or consider all the time and money David Gregory and NBC spent making sure that Newt Gingrich's career was completely fenced off from the Righteous Judgement of History and his reputation was immediately rehabilitated every time he said or did something which should have gotten him run out of civilized society on a rail.
Or hell, just consider all the Bush Regime scutwork myrmidons -- creatures like David Frum, David Brooks, Michael Gerson, Bill Fucking Kristol, Peggy Noonan, Joe Scarborough, Marc Thiessen, Bretbug Stephens and Hugh Hewitt (and yes, I know the complete list is much longer) -- who walked away from the bloody and monstrous catastrophes they helped to author with nary a paper cut from the Righteous Judgement of History. Who, in fact, walked straight into promotions and tenured positions in the Beltway media where no one would dare to be rude enough to bring up their horrifically inconvenient past.
Appeals to the Judgement of History to balance the scales of justice at some point in the future are like appeals to an Almighty God to send bad people to hell. At best, they provide comfort to the powerless and oppressed. But at worst, they are the alibis of cowards who want to outsource the hard work of fixing shit here-and-now -- of holding monsters accountable here-and-now -- to imaginary people far in the future (who will apparently be very much better and wiser than we are), or to an all-powerful deity in the hereafter.
As for me, whenever I catch the antics of Bush Regime dead-enders yucking it up on cable teevee, or being paid to pass off their shopworn drivel as profundity in America's major newspapers, I wonder how anyone can continue to believe that eventually the Righteous Judgement of History will catch up with Conservative assholes.
Because as long as the Beltway media puts the full might of its "Strategic Forgettery" machinery behind helping these ghouls and grifters walk away from their crimes against journalism and democracy unscathed over and over again, the Righteous Judgement of History might as well give up and go pick blueberries for a living.
History Is Bunk!