The architects of the Iraq war are still at large, as are the pundits who cheered them on, as are the bankers who created the economic crash. The lesson is clear in each case: American elites are not held accountable for their failures. They are an aristocracy that is free to do whatever it wants, knowing that it will not lose its power, prestige and status no matter what happens. Once youíre accepted into the club you get tenure, and you can indulge in as much fraud, extortion and folly as you wish. The little people will be tasked to suffer the consequences and pay for the mess, and you can enjoy your evening at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner without any anxiety whatsoever. As long as you donít download kiddie porn, sleep with 13-year-old girls, frolic with Boy Scouts, or get photographed in a brothel with a chicken mask and a bull whip, youíre golden.
The rest of us get zero tolerance laws, paramilitary police forces, surveillance drones, warrantless wiretaps, German Shepherds sniffing through our kidsí lockers at school, sobriety check points, ďclick it or ticketĒ sweeps and other such delightful previews of life in post-Constitutional America. But that shit ainít for you.
If we sell pot we go to jail, maybe even lose our careers. If you start a disastrous, unnecessary war that kills millions of people and wastes billions of dollars, you go on the Sunday talk shows and get fawned over like youíre the biggest foreign policy wiz since Lord Palmerston, or even Dr. Kissinger! You get a lucrative book deal. You hire a hack to write it. You give it an idiotically simple title that youíve plagiarized from a third graderís essay like Lessons Learned or What Iíve Learned. Have your wife go on The View to share your sweet human side to the housewives of America. Put together an exploratory committee. When youíre a member of the elite, failure is an option, and every crisis is indeed an opportunity. Thereís nowhere to go but up, up, up.
About that book. Keep it simple. If your average football coach canít imbibe its main points during a single bout with the piles, you havenít accomplished your mission. Remember, David Gregory and George Stephanopoulos might be reading. Tailor your prose accordingly. Never mind that no one outside of Chris Matthewsí boudoir actually will read it, and donít worry that itís going to end up in a bin at the Salvation Army next to Vanna Whiteís biography and innumerable copies of A Million Little Pieces. This is about marketing and public relations, not literature. Itís about your worldly success in the here and now. The future doesnít matter, as one of your colleagues famously observed, because weíll all be dead.
Thus the same people who brought us the Iraq disaster and the Great Recession are now bringing us bomb Iran and bring on austerity. Thatís how the game works. Itís one great big obscene charade. They know it. We know it. They know we know it. They know we know they know we know it, and no one cares. Even if we did, there isnít a damn thing we could do about it anyway, is there?