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The Rocky II Strategy.

The desperate Left: From “The Dark Knight” to “The newsroom.”

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 II. “The Newsroom”

(You can read part I here).

 

Enter Aaron Sorkin, former creator of The West Wing and “No Political Agenda in My Work” advocate[1], who beguiled and seduced both Republicans and Democrats with his amazing well chosen discourse in HBO’s “The Newsroom”, episode 1: “America is NOT the best country in the World... but it can be”. Whether you are a patriotic Republican sneering about Obama or an utopian Democrat dreaming dreams of an European America, that one was a real doozy.

However, this simple strategy is designed to deceive the enemy. So does Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) when, confronted with his boss Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston), he claims that the Tea Party has “been corrupted by the radical right which in turn has slaved the republican middle.” And like an airplane slowly approaching the Twin Towers in a collision course, “my party is being hi-jacked”. In Sorkin’s historical revisionism of U.S. history, both Republicans and Democrats were, once upon a time, fellow liberals with a common goal, before being corrupted by the far right-wing extremists. Then the Shift occurred and parties switched sides, so the anti-slavery Republicans of the time became today’s Democrats while the extreme right activists remained allocated in the East Wing. If only history was so simple...

But “No Political Agenda in My Work” Sorkinism is more self-explanatory than other shows like the Chomskyan “Homeland” or the Orwellian “Continuum” –which, I hope, stays clear of any political controversy regarding terrorism–. The “Rocky II analogy,” introduced in Episode 3, is a good example of how un-political the show is. Rocky Balboa, the “Italian Stallion” boxer portrayed by Sylvester Stallone, was a “lefty.” Oh, wait, that sounds too political: he was left-handed. In Rocky II he is confronted by his nemesis Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). Due to his bad eye, Mickey trains Rocky to learn to fight like a righty right-handed in order to better protect himself and, by switching back to left-handed following Mickey’s “Now!,” confuse his enemy. Not sure if Episode 3 was the right timing to scream “Now!” and let everybody know that McAvoy’s “I am a Republican” was just a scheme to conceal his left hand under the chair.

But as Daniel Greenfield famously wrote, “The Newsroom” is good news for Conservatives:

“The Newsroom is Sorkin’s sad attempt to win an argument by rewriting history and coming up with all the comebacks that his side couldn’t think of two years ago. It’s the sad and pathetic spectacle of an ideology creating its own fantasy version of its reality in which it won the argument. And the existence of The Newsroom is the greatest possible admission of leftist defeat.”[2]

 

In the process of unmaking America, writer Aaron Sorkin presents us with the first of a series of outbursts against Republicans: May 1, 2010, Times Square bombing attempt, by courtesy of Faisal Shahzad, pupil of Anwar al-Aulaqi, one of the masterminds behind 9/11 and the Underwear Bomber. As the team in the newsroom is getting ready for the news, Sorkinian reporter Margaret Jordan (Alison Pill) has a moment of privileged clarity:

“I think if the religion of the bomber is important, then so is the religion of the guy who saved everyone’s life.”

That was Aliou Niasse, a Senegalese Muslim who drew attention to the terrorist car. And everybody agrees. Well, dear Sorkinian reporter: Is it relevant only if his religion happens to be Islam or would it be relevant as well if he was, let’s say, an Orthodox Christian, or a Mormon? When McAvoy’s boss Charlie states that “facts are the center”, neither “right” nor “left”, maybe he should not have forgotten that the actual “facts” were that the religion of the terrorist, Islam, was relevant to himself and it was the main reason behind the attempted terrorist attack. Faisal Shahzad, like Nidal Hassan in Ft. Hood, justified his actions through Islam. Aliou Niasse didn’t.

Now the distracted audience is all set to be enthralled by the magic of Sorkinian argumentation, God knows, Anything goes. For example, the accusation against Koch Industries for funding some Tea Party activities through their Americans for Prosperity. Alas, let’s not forget that only Democrats can legitimately obtain funds from evil companies named after Batman’s foes. And never, ever, give an opulent citizen the chance to be politically responsible. For the record, the infamous Koch Brothers also fund numerous organizations not quite linked to the Republican agenda: The Cato Institute, the Institute of Human Studies or the Reason Foundation, some of which have openly criticized McCain, Bush legacy in Iraq, and climate change deniers.

The next blow goes to Jim DeMint and his ludicrous beliefs about gay marriage and HIV. Which allows McAvoy to attack Republicans by stating that 18.000 U.S. troops got VD (gonorrhea or syphilis) in WWI and were sidelined. Every day[3]. Let’s math. The United States mobilized over 4,000,000 military personnel during WWI between May 1917 and November 1918. 19 months, 4,000,000 soldiers, and 18,000 VD-infected doughboys. After seven months of war, all troops would have been sidelined. And of course, no relation with the issue of gay marriage, but Commies are not Doughboys lovers.

Last round between Sorkin and the audience. And when it comes to Republican audience, nothing better than a Republican to criticize another Republican: Bryce Delaney, who lost his primary to a Tea Party candidate who is a dentist (Paul Gosar?) by a 72 to 28 margin because he once said accusing Obama of being a Socialist was a silly distraction and he also co-sponsored bill HR2559 with a Democrat. Too bad Bryce Delaney is a fictional character. And too bad HR2559 was sponsored and co-sponsored by Republicans.

And then Sorkinian Will McAvoy goes berserk taking some random Tea Party members (Gloria Hansen and Rand Paul) and putting them on the ropes with a pair of heavy question punches, which they never get a chance to answer because the show interrupts them. Immediately after he offers some quick random harsh remarks against different Republicans –Allen West, Michele Bachmann, Tom Graves, Tim Griffin, Sean Duffy, and Jeff Duncan–, defends Obama, and attacks Islamophobia: “What state, what city, what county in this country is in danger of falling under Sharia law?”. Do you mean, Mr. Sorkin, that since no city in the U.S. is in danger of falling under Sharia law –unlike European neighborhoods–, we should neither prosecute nor even criticize those who implement it?

Starting with a right-hand punch and following it with a left hook seems to be the new strategy that the left is using to win now what they lost two years ago. This is, however, a dangerous strategy, as Daniel Greenfield writes:

“Propaganda that tells you that you won, when you actually lost, is corrosive; it inhibits any serious self-evaluation. And without some soul-searching and error-checking, the same mistakes are bound to be repeated over and over again”.

Unfortunately for them, “The Newsroom” is likely to rather hurt than benefit the “West Wing.” After all, you don’t need to agree with absolutely everything Republicans stand for, in order to disagree with everything Democrats represent.

 

- César Guarde