The Excited States of America

By Dr David Laing Dawson

I am of an age when I might sit on the back porch and grouse about the sorry state of the world. Either that or stop watching the news. Two items disturbed me last night. They were two rather inconsequential items amidst the horrors of the Fentanyl epidemic, the disaster of Aleppo, and a Canadian company selling war machines to South Sudan. But these two items spoke of a mind set more far reaching in its possibilities than the others.

The first was the CNN report of the Iranian warning to a US plane. I listened to the warning. It was standard fare. A radar ground crewman warning a war plane that it was currently in international air space but drifting toward Iranian air space and if it entered it would be “targeted”. An Iranian radar guy doing his job.

But then we have Wolf Blitzer announcing in that voice of his that I suspect could not order a cup of coffee without it sounding like Armageddon is the next customer in line, and then commentary by experts and generals and an old CIA guy. Wow. I could hear the war drums, the pounding of chests, the sirens in the missile silos.

I hope this is a matter of ratings, of audience appeal, the need to grip the audience with drama and threat and suspense. I hope the American ego is not that fragile. For if it is, and if Donald is commander-in-chief, a raised middle finger could trigger a nuclear disaster.

The second item was our Peter Mansbridge interviewing a debating expert from one of our Universities. I have no doubt there is technique involved in a good debate. And I am sure technique is everything in one of those sporting debates with an audience of students and profs scoring the event.

But the examples used were clips from the Lauer interviews of Trump and Clinton. The clip of Trump had him first stating a lie, then quickly following this with two simple truths, and then diverting to an attack on Obama. The expert pointed out the form of this technique and rated it a good one that she herself has used a couple of times. Start with a lie but cover it quickly with a two indisputable truths. Mansbridge did not question this.

The boundary between entertainment and reality has disintegrated. This is a candidate for President of the United States lying, not a clever sophomore convincing us that angels do dance on the head of pins. Not a reality TV show where the only stakes are ratings and advertising dollars.

I would actually like to believe that when Trump lies it is a clever strategy he is employing. Unfortunately I think it comes naturally to him, easily, just as it does to a child.

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