I suppose that most everyone recalls Col. Jessup’s (Jack Nicholson) impassioned defense of a “Code Red” in the film A Few Good Men:Â “You can’t handle the truth!”
For Col. Jessup and many others, the “truth” is an absolute certainty. Every time I hear some “talking head” or “politician” state that “the American public deserves to know,” I can’t help but recall Col. Jessup’s staunch defense of his own “personal” truth or value system.
Many are beginning to realize that discovering the “truth” is – at best – a personal quest. Just when you think you have found that elusive kernel of “truth,” new revelations create additional uncertainties.
For reasons that are not entirely clear (personally, I think it may be intellectual laziness), many of our citizens have created a very simple coping mechanism which I call “tribal politics”. Instead of wearing tribal colors or a tattoo, we simply register for one political party or the other and then cheer loudly to see which party can humiliate members of the other party more viciously.
Civil discourse is now little more than a shouting match, with party supporters cheering on their political gladiators in much the same way that “the mob” cheered on the lions at the Colosseum some 2,000 years ago.
Sadly, our search for the “truth” (even if it could be found) has given way to a whole host of silly slogans and tribal chants that prematurely end any reasonable quest for something close to the truthÂ before it has started. Col. Jessup was probably correct in his assertion that we “can’t handle the truth.”
House of Straw: U.S. Election Meddling and Russia
I understand that people get rattled when they think that Russia meddled in the U.S. election.Â While politicians and the media have been beating the “meddling” war drums loudly, I am entirely at ease with the thought that Kremlin spooks, lobbyists and hackers have been seeking to tamper with our election.Â Gosh, I would be even more surprised if Russia hadn’t been doing everything possible to gain a political and military advantage over the U.S.
Why?Â Well, U.S. clandestine agencies do exactly the same thing in other countries (friends and foes alike).Â It is not unreasonable to expect that the U.S. would try to influence or manipulate results in other countries for our geo-political advantage.Â I certainly hope that U.S. spies, hackers and “influencers” have been as active as Putin’s shady cast of characters.Â Â In fact, anyone who has played the very popular Online game Sid Meier’s CivilizationÂ would attest to the value of spying to gain a competitive advantage over your competitors on the world stage.
It is just plain hypocrisy or stupidity to play the role of a “blushing” democracy when our spy agencies are doing exactly the same thing as Russian spies (or spies of most any other nationality).Â Â
While Congressional Hearings are surely a “big thing,” you simply must laugh if you expect spies to tell the truth.Â Spies are trained to lie and the best ones do a very good job of it.Â In my estimation, Congress and the Senate and the “American People,” will not be any wiser after this silly political charade plays out in D.C.
When politicians lack the courage to rise above their tribe’s silly rituals, representative democracy suffers.Â With tribal behavior lurking behind the sanctimonious sound bites of most politicians, it is the American public that suffers.
It is impossible to determine how the “Special Counsel” charade will play for the electorate, but those who place their lives on the line every day to defend our freedoms must be genuinely disillusioned by politicians who argue that they will get to “the truth” for the benefit of the American people.Â Â If you buy into this silly argument, there is a bridge in Brooklyn that many of these politicians will sell you.
While tribal leaders of both parties continue to posture with meaningless soundbites, real issues like the reform of the Department of Veterans Affairs and opioid abuse (among many serious issues) will continue to be pushed into the background as politicians position themselves at taxpayer expense for the next election.
Maybe Col. Jessup is right, “We can’t handle the truth!”
The views expressed here are those of the author and NOT necessarily those of the members of SFTT.