In early 1956, the army drafted my young and tender ass to Fort Bragg, so that I could man the ramparts of freedom as a private in the First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Battalion.
At the PsyWar Center on Smoke Bomb Hill we engaged the commie foe mostly by pulling KP, raking the sand around our barracks free of pinecones, and guarding prisoner work parties from the 82nd Airborne’s stockade.
On one exciting occasion we went on maneuvers, where we dropped leaflets warning the “enemy forces” that black widow spiders lurked inside their latrines, ready to pounce on dangling genitals. Well, what the hell, at least we weren’t doing any harm.
Which is more than you can say for our linear descendants at Fort Bragg today, the Fourth Psychological Operations Group. Or for the grotesquely overpaid assholes of the Rendon and Lincoln Groups, to which Rumsfeld has outsourced much of the army’s propaganda operation in Iraq. Here’s a sample of their genius:
In its rejected plan, the company looked to American popular culture for ways to influence new audiences. Lincoln proposed variations of the satirical paper “The Onion,” and an underground paper to be called “The Voice,” documents show. And it planned comedies modeled after “Cheers” and the Three Stooges, with the trio as bumbling wannabe terrorists.
For this sort of nonsense Bush’s bumbling wannabe flacks have a budget Goebbels would have envied, although they don’t spend it as wisely. For more instances, read the entire New York Times story from which the above quote comes.
I spent more of my life than I should have in these sorts of operations, and some of it in the service of men just as vicious as Bush and Cheney — although Nixon and Kissinger were a lot smarter. Yet even they never grasped this central fact about political flackery:
When a president rages that his message isn’t getting out, the trouble is that it is.