Could someone out there please tell me what’s really happening in our world?
Put differently, who can you truly believe? Remember that 1957 movie with Andy Griffith, A Face in the Crowd, in which he played a beloved TV personality who one day unknowingly let his true feelings toward his adoring fans leak out across a live mike to a stunned the nation? Well that’s sort of how I feel after this week, though I doubt I’ll ever find resolution in the form of hearing the truth from the lips of the many who so confuse me.
Let’s start with Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s situation. She’s been up to her eyeballs spinning out explanations over her private email server and the September 11, 2012 Benghazi tragedy, but was thrown a lifeline this week by the (now less likely) next Republican Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy when he boasted on Fox News that the House’s Benghazi investigations were put together to cripple her presidential bid. I doubt many were shocked to learn politics played a part in the investigation, but I’d bet the ranch virtually all were amazed at the public admission by its claimed architect.
On the side of the more classic form of political behavior, we have Vladimir Putin’s brilliant performance this week in his interview by iconic American television talk show host and journalist, Charlie Rose. Putin and President Obama have been butting heads (to say the least) all week before the UN and the World over Russia’s decision to provide aggressive boots on the ground support to the Syria regime. Putin acquitted himself quite well on the Rose show with a masterful command of body language, gestures, and unassuming answers, taking care as he did all week to wrap his intentions in the blanket claim of Russia engaging in Syria for the high purpose of fighting worldwide terrorism in the form of ISIS.
Then, as his nation’s first subsequent military act in Syria, Russia bombed the hell out of anti-Assad government forces having nothing to do with ISIS. All of which goes to show how very adept Putin is at manipulating his image and the media while doing whatever he damn well pleases. He gives credence to the quip often credited to Will Rogers that a sure fire way to tell if a politician is lying is to watch if his lips are moving.
I’m not even going to talk about the monumental betrayal of trust and fraud perpetrated upon the world of car owners by Volkswagen. German industry will reel from that for quite some time.
Then we have the latest rage circulating in Greece. Newly re-elected Prime Minister Alexis Tripras came to New York City this week, along with practically every other world leader, for the opening of the new United Nations session. He appeared on a video taped interview conducted by former President Clinton (still only one of those) as part of his Clinton Global Initiative. The interview lasted a little over a half-hour, but what quickly circulated around Greece was a one-minute doctored version of the interview intended to make the Prime Minister look an inarticulate fool unable to speak or understand English.
I couldn’t think of something more ridiculous for his opponents to have done than that. When the doctored tape is compared with the real one, the Prime Minister emerges as a quite different sort of person, with an exceptional command of a language he just recently began to learn. Whether or not one believes what he said is quite a different issue, but the obvious misrepresentation of his appearance gives unintended credence to his performance.
And the saddest news to me personally came in the form of Pope Francis’s clandestine meeting in Washington with Kim Davis, the Kentucky County Clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. I do not know what the thinking was behind holding that meeting, but it most certainly changed the thinking of many who learned of it.
These are troubling times for those desperately looking for someone or something to believe in. Or, at the very least, to tell them the truth. I’m beginning to get a better understanding of why so many have flocked to Donald Trump, and that realization frightens me.
Hope to see you next week at Bouchercon in Raleigh, where I expect you to help me take my mind off all of this.