ISIS and Islam

October 30, 2014

Barack Hussein Obama is given to making extraordinary pronouncements. Many of the more dramatic assertions are seldom based on facts, reason, or reflection.  Put aside, if you can, the domestic hyperbole which often accompanies wishful thinking about social problems; poverty, public education, and public health. The President’s public rhetoric on foreign policy, questions of national security, is unique, bordering on the delusional. To paraphrase Jack Kennedy; getting it wrong at home might be tragic, but getting it wrong abroad could be fatal.

The other day, President Obama claimed that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was not Islamic, a little like claiming that Catholicism has nothing to do with the Vatican. Put aside for a moment the illogic of using the phrase “Islamic State” and then denying the adjective in the next breath.

If ISIS is not Islamic then the Crusades and the Reformation were not Christian. If ISIS is not Islamic then the French had nothing to do with the Great Terror. If ISIS is not Islamic then Russians had nothing to do with totalitarian Communism.  If ISIS is not Islamic then Germans had nothing to do with National Socialism or the Holocaust. If ISIS is not Islamic then behavior has nothing to do with beliefs!

Surely beliefs and actions are different things, but the cause-and-effect relationship between ideology and acts is well established by science and history. If Muslims cannot agree on the particulars of Islamic legitimacy, who is some American politician from Chicago to claim to know what is, or what is not, Islamic?

There is no Muslim Pope or baptism. If ISIS zealots say they are Muslims, they should be taken at their word – especially if they submit, grow a beard, don a burka, and subscribe to jihad (holy war). If terror and religious fascism is anything today, it is as Islamic as any mosque.

Blatant, now flagrant, attempts to separate Islam from the acts of its adherents, terror and jihad, is now an American national mantra. The ad vericundium spin began early with John Brennan. As White House advisor, now CIA Director  Brennan’s  propaganda defined jihad as ritual cleansing, twisting or minimalizing the more obvious and lethal meaning of holy war.

How is it that team Obama feels compelled to contradict the confessions of Islamic terrorists? Jihadists are very candid about their motives, quoting the authority of the Koran, the Hadith, and Mohamed with predictable regularity. Terrorists are open about their ideological/ religious inspirations. Why should we not believe what they say about themselves?

The Brennan/Obama spin seems to be a kind of prophylactic denial – denying the worst, and motive, before it happens. ISIS is clinical proof that denial does nothing to halt the spread of viral ideology, toxic hate, or barbarous terror.

There is some method to the madness and mendacity of Brennan’s self-serving appeasement. Severing the connective tissue between ideology and atrocity in advance allows terror to be treated as unrelated incidents; random criminal behavior not acts of war. Fidelity to the criminal charade, allows the Oval Office to avoid tough choices like a declaration of war against ISIS – or Islam.

Different notions of globalization separate the democratic West and the theocratic East today. For Social Democrats, the global village means civility, cooperation, and commerce. For Muslim thugs, globalization means Islamic imperialism: beards, burkas, and bigotry.

Administration spin would have you believe serial beheadings in Mosul are not much different than a mugging in Central Park; or have you believe that mass murder by an Islamist at Fort Hood, Texas is simply another case of workplace violence.

Separating ISIS, or any other Islamic terror group, from Islam sends the worst possible message to all Muslims.  Excusing or absolving the elusive “moderate” Muslim (49 nations, 1.5 billion adherents, the Arab League, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference) from responsibility or needed reforms is madness. How does the global Ummah qualify as a “great” culture when the radical minority acts like barbarians and a passive majority behaves like children? Islam is responsible for itself or it outside the community of civilized nations; indeed, beyond the pale by any metric.

ISIS is the linear, if not logical, descendant of two modern phenomena; imperial Sunni Islamic dogma (Wahabism / Salifism) and misguided allied support for the Arab Spring/awakening.  America and the EU still cling to the canard that democracy is the default setting for Muslim states if and when autocrats are toppled. In fact, in nearly every case, theocratic Islamic social pathology has filled the void created by the “regime change” follies. Listing the number of failed Arab states at this point would be tautological.

Islamist ideological exports from Arabia, like the Ebola virus to the south, are now global threats. Egypt has finally seen the light with the Muslim Brotherhood and the generals in Cairo are again in the process of attempting to eradicate al Ikhwan within its borders. Ins’Allah and Godspeed!

The sheiks and princes of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, however, are still working both sides of the street, dancing with the devil; providing refuge, ideology, financing, recruits, and weapons to a host of Sunni jihadists including ISIS.

ISIS is now the literal cutting edge of Sunni Islam, at once a defining movement and a cultural acid test. Of 49 states with Muslim majorities, only five pathetic Arab oligarchs, ten percent, have offered to enter the ISIS fight. And even these are doing little or nothing.

Such evidence suggests that the Muslim majority is either a co-conspirator, cowardly, or too bovine to make either team. The lack of a global Muslim response to ISIS puts the lie to the “great religion” and moral equivalence shibboleths that the Obama/Brennan/Kerry team has sought to pedal for six years.

We should note here that the American Secretary of State, John Kerry, now claims that Jewish or Israeli behavior is helping to recruit ISIS foot soldiers. Again, anti-Semitism is ever the canary in the geo-political sewer.

Blaming Jews is sport for the foreign policy establishment in the West. Vichy and Quisling ride again! Alas, Scandinavia is once more in the vanguard of the bigot brigade. Sweden has recognized the Fatah/Hamas caliphate in Palestine.

Traditional anti-Semitism on both sides of the Atlantic is now augmented with Muslim migrations to the campuses and capitals of the democratic world. Sadly, the social democratic Left is just as good at excusing bigotry at home as it is at rationalizing Islamism and terror abroad.

Self-interest might suggest that Islam would smite ‘apostates’ like bin Laden and al Baghdadi. Not likely! Bin Laden sought and received sanctuary in Afghanistan and Pakistan for a decade. He was killed by Americans not Muslims. Similar Islamic miscreants now luxuriate and fester in the Emirates and the Levant.

If the Arab League and the OIC is expecting the Kurds, Turks, or NATO pilots to crush ISIS, the greater Muslim world is truly delusional too.

ISIS is Islamic precisely because the silent, passive aggressive, Muslim majority makes ISIS possible. Just as Islam originated in Arabia, ISIS is the linear descendent of the militant, imperial, now fascist quarter of the Ummah.

Surely acts are more significant than ideology, but the ideological roots of irredentist Islam are clear. The poisoned tree is rooted in historical Mohamedism, more recent imperial Islamism (aka Salifism), and all those oil oligarchs wealthy enough to provide sanctuary – and buy policy, politicians, and academic apologists in Europe and America.

Despite Barack Hussein Obama’s pandering, a preponderance of evidence suggests that ISIS is as Muslim as Mecca. The immediate future and that passive aggressive Islamic mainstream will determine whether all of Islam becomes ISIS. Short of a declaration of war, it’s hard to know what side of history the fearful West and the theocratic East will favor.

Truth doesn’t care who she offends. History is written by winners. A declared war will eventually be necessary and even then only a total victory will be sufficient to end the pandering in the West– and end caliphate fantasies in the East.

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This essay appeared in the in the 29 October edition of American Thinker.

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Bibi Netanyahu’s Lament

October 16, 2014

ISIS and Hamas are fruit from the same poisoned tree.” – Netanyahu at the UN

Benjamin Netanyahu is one of a kind among seasoned politicians. He doesn’t just think outside of the box, the Israeli prime minister makes boxes for men like Barack Hussein Obama. Take the perennial impasse in the Middle East, the so-called Palestinian problem. The atmospherics alone tell the story. Netanyahu has been to America a dozen or more times since Obama came to office. In that same period, the American president has been to Israel once and even then reluctantly.

The Israeli PM addresses the American president as ‘Mister President,’ Obama addresses the Israeli PM as ‘Bibi,’ a diminutive of Benjamin. In this, Barack Obama comes across as petty and immature. Surely, there’s no love lost between the two, their relationship is a little like an experienced adult trying to reason with an insecure adolescent.

My way or the highway seems to be Obama’s petulant premise for any domestic negotiation. In contrast, he seems to think the international world of Muslim pathology is win/win game. Foreign policy naiveté might be an attempt to channel the wisdom urban philosophers like Rodney King, “Can’t we just get along?”

Every time that the Israeli prime minister comes to Washington, he reminds the world, and Diaspora supporters, that Israel alone has been at the front in the fight against Islamic terror for 60 years or more. In contrast, the Mediterranean littoral is now littered with the debris of recent American failure, failures among putative Arab and Muslim “allies” of the Obama administration.

In all of this, the American president thinks he is on the right side of history. He likes to whistle in the dark too, telling the American people that they are safer since his national security team came to town. Netanyahu sees the world as it is, the best that might be said of Obama is that he is naïve, frightened, confused – or in way over his head.

Israel is a sovereign successful nation, a rich culture that predates toxic Islamic monocultural illusions by millennia. Indeed, tiny Israel and the Diaspora have made more artistic, scientific, and cultural contributions to humanity in 60 years than the Ummah has made in 500 years. Unlike Arabs, Ottomans and their historical subjects, Jews never cultivated empire – political, religious, or military imperialism.

Calling parts of the traditional Jewish homeland “occupied” territories is a little like calling New Mexico, California, or Scotland occupied. Land lost in war is often lost to history and the enemy. Israel has been more than generous, by any modern standard, with lands returned to ungrateful Arab neighbors who were defeated in existential wars. For Israel, the alternative to military victory is always extinction.

The Arab population within Israel lives better than Muslims in most any state with an Islamic majority. Indeed, most Arab countries are judenfrie by fiat and that includes the lands occupied by Fatah and Hamas. When the subject is Jews, the progressive West and the Islamic East see tolerance as a one-way street. Indeed, anti-Semitism is the bond that now unites the liberal West and theocratic East, a kind of macabre moral suicide pact.

Israel cannot trust fractious Palestine any more than Arabs trust Palestinians.

Any examination of the history of so-called Palestinians in states bordering Israel tells the tale of Arab duplicity. Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt have been ruthless in suppressing Palestinian militants. Indeed, you might argue that, until the advent of al Qaeda, most Muslim autocrats were happy to have the jihad focused on Israel.  Arabia, especially, was happy to let the Palestine chimera fester in the Holy Land.

Arabs care about Palestinian territorial claims in the Levant about as much as New Yorkers might care about Algonquian claims to Manhattan. For too many Muslims, Palestine is seen as the permanent drip torture that erodes the state of Israel.

Alas, the fascist wolf always goes for the weak and lame. Hence, those plump complacent Arab dictators who supported Fatah, Black September, the PLO, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and predictable grandchildren like ISIS, are now surrounded by Islamist carnivores.  You might buy a wolf, but he will never be housebroken.

For once, Joe Biden was correct when he recently called the Turks on similar double dealing in Syria and Iraq. ISIS is a created problem, a descendant of all the other “nefarious characters” that rampage globally in the name of religious war these days.  Biden conveniently failed to mention America, Europe, and Arabia as early co-sponsors of ISIS in the Levant. ISIS is simply another mutation of the global Islamic  jihad.

Bibi Netanyahu is too diplomatic to use a canine metaphor to describe metastasizing Islamic terror. Dogs are haram for Muslims. At the UN  on 29 September he instead compared religious terror to a tree; indeed, he used a Christian homily, a selection from the New Testament, Mathew 7:18.

Say nothing else about the Israeli prime minister, you would have to admit this guy knows how to work a room.

The prime minister’s simile was creatively ambiguous. Examples of bad fruit, Hamas and ISIS, are specified; however, we are left to wonder whether the “poisoned tree” is Islam, Muslims, or just the twisted beards who would behead infidels, apostates, and oil autocrats.

Nonetheless, beneath Netanyahu’s UN lament lay some new thinking on a new approach to the Palestine pot hole and the global jihad; withal, a new direction for Israel and the West.

Without equivocation, the Israeli prime minister calls Islamism a global fight, a threat to Arab regimes as well as the Ummah at large. He puts the burden for a Palestine solution where it belongs, with the Arab nation. Concurrently, he isolates Iran’s nuclear ambition as a threat to Sunni Islam and Israel. Netanyahu suggests that Shia and Sunni Islamists are branches of the same “poisoned tree.”

Heretofore, Israel and America have tended to atomize the threat, attempting to deal with individual manifestations while ignoring the larger phenomenon. A fractured strategy is manifest in whack-a-mole tactics where each terror group is treated as a local problem.

Yesterday it’s the West Bank, today it’s Gaza. Yesterday it’s Fatah, today it’s al Qaeda and Hamas, and tomorrow it’s ISIS. The anthology of firefights and factions is open-ended and global.

Trying to solve the Palestinian problem by talking to Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas is a little like trying to contain global terror by talking to the Taliban’s semi-literate Mullah Omar. Even if success could be had with one faction, little is done to solve the universal problem.

Without saying so much in so many words, Benjamin Netanyahu seems to be suggesting that Israel ought to be negotiating directly with Riyadh and Cairo, indeed the Arab League, not Ramallah.  By implication, we might also suggest that America and the EU ought to bypass the UN and negotiate directly with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). If the OIC aspires to speak for the global Ummah, the time has come to speak with one voice.

Islamism is now a universal problem, the defeat of same requires a global solution. And if any boots are required on the ground, they need to be on Muslim feet. And the West doesn’t need to offer too many incentives, as Netanyahu says, for collective Muslim action. Without a new strategy or plan, the oft celebrated “moderate” Islamic majority will be devoured in short order by the beasts of Muslim hell. Ins’allah!

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This essay appeared previously in the American Thinker and the Iconoclast

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Fear, Inertia, and Islam

October 10, 2014

“Veritas odit moras” – Seneca

The conventional wisdom about strategic inertia, doing too little or nothing, is that whatever might be done might make things worse. No proof is ever offered for such reasoning because none ever exists. The future is unknowable.

A forecast or estimate is not a prophecy, and both have shaky legs. Most deductive reasoning proceeds from asserted conclusions or lame assumptions in any case. The conventional wisdom, or beaten path, is often more convenient than it is wise.

Fear of consequence inspires inaction or timidity. Predators and aggressors thrive on panic, indecision, and weakness. The consequences of fear are well known. The associated behavioral evidence is well understood too.

Vertebrates, including humans, usually react to threats one of four ways: fight, flight, freeze, or faint. Autonomic experts now include related responses like arousal and acute or prolonged stress.

Although there seem to be six possible visceral responses to threat, one or more in combination is likely – and fight might be the most unlikely for modern men. You could argue that a typical human response to fear or threat is a series of half measures – some amalgam of indecisiveness that often confuses friend and foe alike.

The Islamist threat, terror and associated small wars, might be a case study of contemporary collective inertia, decades of half measures in the West where candid analysis and common sense policies are hostage to dread, the unreasonable fear that analytical truth or decisive political/military action will make matters worse.

Boko Haram, the Muslim slave traders of East Africa, is an example. Their depredations are euphemized as “child trafficking.” These Sunni Islamists were exempt from a “terrorist” designation for years until their atrocities went wholesale, seizing an entire girl’s school.

Government and academic analyses of the Egyptian based Muslim Brotherhood (al Ikhwan) suffered from the same immunities. Brotherhood affiliates and derivatives now girdle the globe.  Some peddle rhetorical imperialism while others (like al Qaeda and Hamas) are blatantly kinetic. Terror is a function of propaganda, the knife, the bomb – and passive victims.

Threat inflation is a no-lose hedge, underestimates can be fatal.

The Egyptian and Libyan examples are illustrative. Western Media, Washington, and Brussels tried to put lipstick on the Brotherhood pig (nee Arab Spring). A military coup was necessary to restore civility in Cairo. Any Janissary is preferable to every theocracy.

In Libya, a failed state was the price of regime change. Gadhafi doesn’t look so bad in retrospect. Europe and America now pay lip service to democracy in Arabia for all the wrong reasons.

Boko Haram and al Ikhwan are but two of the dozens of Sunni Islamist groups that are treated with deference or kid gloves. Now comes the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The American Commander-in-Chief (CINC) prefers to call the “new” threat ISIL, the Islamic State in the Levant.

Clearly the White House, or John Brennan at CIA, is rebranding another Islamist terror splinter to mask the horrid truth about the latest mutation of Islam. Renaming ISIS also serves to fudge serial military folly and failure in Iraq and Syria. Oval Office spin is an easy sell to a Facebook or Twitter generation that might think the Levant is a hookah bar in Soho.

Indeed, the American air and ground war has now been expanded in Iraq and Syria by fiat, another knee-jerk response to Media, not moral outrage. (Is it possible to stop the “boots on the ground” nonsense? American boots never left Iraq – or Syria, if surrogates and mercenaries matter.)  Nevertheless, if ISIS had not posted beheadings on the internet, one wonders whether the White House or the Pentagon would have done anything differently.

The arts of policy, strategy, and tactics are communal human attempts to anticipate threats and develop political/military options that respond to or eliminate threat. If Washington and Brussels can be said to have any strategy, it is autonomic, reactive only to the moment, the atrocity or regime du jour.

The odd-couple coalition now arrayed against ISIS says all that needs to be said about the absurdity of what passes for foreign/military policy today. Five Arab autocrats are led by a liberal American administration, “flying” against a hirsute nation of Muslim madmen outfitted with the latest American armored weapons! Call it Clinton redux, war from 10,000 feet, two miles too far.

The propaganda war is even more confused than the shooting war. On the one hand the president laments that 80 some odd countries, including America, are sending volunteers to ISIS. Without missing a beat, he holds up an Arab coalition of ‘five’ weak, anti-ISIS autocracies as a solution. A few NATO procrastinators might also join the airshow too. Do the math!

The administration also fails to mention that the American taxpayer has been financing, training, and equipping the very Sunni terrorists who are now beheading Americans. So-called Muslim allies in Syria/Iraq morphed into ISIS just as surely as the mujahedeen morphed into the Taliban in South Asia.  When you consider precedents like Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Libya; the Obama national security team seems to have a negative learning curve when the subject is blowback.

An administration that cannot, or will not, define the threat candidly is unlikely to be able to separate friend from foe. Yes, a phenomenon like imperial religious fascism is complicated and sensitive, but it is made more so by apologetics and rationalizations proffered in the name of misguided notions of tolerance.

Terror is often justified as tribal vendetta, a kind an understandable reaction to real or imagined injustice. Such ethical or legal arguments, like Orientalism, drive a stake through the heart of any moral equivalence for Islam. Revenge reduces the Islamist, and their culture, to a lowest moral/legal plane, a universe where true justice and civility is arbitrary if not impossible.

By any moral standard, contemporary Islam is both a growing problem and the unlikely solution. Neither tolerance nor justice is a growth sector in the Ummah. Washington and Brussels seem ready to bleed to death in slow motion before the clear evidence of this threat is accepted. The menace of theocracy is the mimber not the marketplace.

Alas for the moment, there is no plan, no strategic goals, and no consistent policies that might lead to long-term success for the West or reform in the East. Indeed, by his own admission, the American commander-in-chief still insists that we are not at war with a global theocratic civilization. Barak Hussein Obama seeks solutions where there are no “no victors and no vanquished.”

Where victory is off the table, half-measures become the menu. Inertia is always served lukewarm. When Benjamin Netanyahu comes to the UN and tells the world that ISIS and Hamas are “fruit of the same poisonous tree,” he tells a truth that the West does not want to hear.

The threat from the Ummah is atomized in Brussels and Washington because it is more convenient to treat terrorism and religious jihad, wherever it appears, as local “criminal” phenomena with local motives. Acknowledging Muslim Wars as a global, albeit decentralized, existential threat would force the West to admit that Huntington was correct. The clash of civilizations is no longer a speculation. The conflict within and without has been metastasizing globally for 50 years or more.

And civilization is not winning. ISIS is just one more symptom of religious irredentism and cultural decay in the Muslim world, one sixth of the world’s population.  For five decades now, the West retreats fearfully on most fronts behind a smoke screen of euphemism and apology.

Like all illusions of monoculture, Islamism is a greater threat to adherents than it is to infidels or apostates. Muslim “moderates” in such a struggle are mythical, largely an irrelevant, passive, and frightened demographic. If you staged a cage match between a moderate and a fanatic, what are the odds that any smart money picks the moderate?

There are more than a few realists who see conflict as a biological and cultural norm. Darwin, for one, makes a very convincing argument that biological evolution is, in the end, a zero-sum game. Samuel Huntington made a parallel argument for human social or cultural forces, “The fault lines of civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.” Earlier, Douglas MacArthur dispensed similar wisdom about warfare, “There is no substitute for victory.”

Only hubris and fear allow men, or social democracies, to believe that political institutions, especially republics, are now somehow exempt from common sense and the self-evident axioms of military conflict.

If history, or reality for that matter, provides any precedents, war is the human condition past, present, and likely future. And conflict is not immoral by any scientific or ethical standard, nor is it sufficient. But it is often necessary. When war is necessary, picking the right side matters. Historical success, progress, and tolerant cultures are made possible by victors, not victims.

At the moment, the western democracies are both for and against Islam, at once defending the cultural and moral equivalence of Mohammed, the Koran, and Islam and at the same time killing or jailing the imperial Islamic vanguard in the name of saving the Ummah from itself. Playing two ends against the middle in a religious war isn’t strategy; it’s a dangerous game, a kind of Russian roulette.

Such absurdities might mystify even Kafka.

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This essay appeared in the October Small Wars Journal, the online forum for Special Forces/Special operations.

 

 


Madam Secretary, Front Running for Hillary

October 9, 2014

Long gone are the days when a line might be drawn between art and politics. Today you might argue that that the performing arts, especially, have become a kind of propaganda arm for a promiscuous worldview. The issue isn’t just literal pornography, but the kind of artistic license that lowers all cultural bars.

Manipulation is at the heart of hard sell, the belief that a bovine audience will be too stupid to recognize manipulation. There’s more than a grain of truth here. The rise of social networks, reality cartoons on television, and feature length movies based on comic book characters, are three of the more obvious symptoms. The new destination resort is perennial childhood.

The Simpsons and South Park are examples; both are wildly popular and financially successful by any measure. Both share a common formula. The children are loud, rude, and obnoxious and the adults are passive, stupid, and clueless. These cartoons don’t celebrate youth so much as they applaud infantile behavior. Themes are some variety of instant gratification and the dialogue is often tasteless.

If a vulgar female Assistant Secretary of State can throw the “F” bomb at European allies in the real world, who are we to quibble with how children talk to their parents on television.

And it’s not like youngsters change the world in the name of progress in South Park. Dumbing it down in the name of childish satire or a cheap laugh is more like it. Bart Simpson captures the millennial spirit with bumper sticker/tee shirt wisdom, “Underachiever and proud of it!”

At this point you can stop wondering why a high school diploma or a college degree means less and less in the new century. A piece of paper is education today in the same sense that a tattoo is body “art.”

Indeed, customer surveys confirm Bart’s new urban ethic. The average American adult, women especially, will spend as much as a third of the waking day in front of a television. Bimbo TV targets the ladies because women make most purchasing decisions by a wide margin.  Daytime TV is a chat, cartoon, and soap opera wasteland that caters to women who shop too much and think too little. With such home schooling, children are bred for consumption and instant gratification.

The bimbo tube has become the default babysitter too. When you add phone, laptop, and cinema time; you have to wonder how any household ever gets clean knickers or homemade cookies in the 21st Century.

With Shakespeare, it’s not hard to believe that the performing arts held a mirror up to life. With Hollywood, the looking glass is a one-way mirror. With the assistance of opinion makers like Nielsen and NSA, the 21st Century ethos seems to be a matter of catering to low brows and seining wants at the expense of needs. Vulgarity is part of that art.

The American proletariat doesn’t value manners, privacy, or information as much as entertainment anyway.  Alas, a culture based on selfishness is a society of volunteer victims. Government, Hollywood, and the dot.com oligarchs are not about to miss a historic opportunity to abuse a public trust. “Meta data” is another euphemism for manipulation – and very big money.

Control is the wizard behind every hand-held device, every laptop, every flat screen, and every silver screen. And if ‘trending” tells us anything, the moguls of manipulation are a new class of millennial role models.

Manipulation and entertainment are now well matched in Hollywood. The latest entry on the bimbo TV menu is Madam Secretary (CBS) a primetimesoap opera’ where Tea Leoni plays a spook, cum academic, who is appointed Secretary of State by a venal male president who is looking for a cookie pusher who “thinks outside the box.”  If you saw any episode of Madam and thought of Hillary, you already have the message. You heard Barbara Hall’s dog whistle.

Indeed, if you are having a hot flash of déjà vu also, you are part of the Nielsen demographic that stays on message. You get it!

Recall that before the last presidential election, Columbia Pictures optioned  Zero Dark Thirty, another homage to a lady spook who made the world safe from terror midst a gaggle of inept male Intelligence drones. Never mind that, in the real world, an all-male special operations crew actually took the all the risks.

The Oval Office in those days was taking bows for ending terror as we know it with the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the alleged “end” of al Qaeda. Now comes Tia Leone, as Secretary of State, about to smite the likes of similar “nefarious characters,” to use a Clapperism,  before another national election. Not a happy coincidence methinks!

Look at the Madame Secretary story line to date. In Episode Two, the embassy in ‘Yemen’ is attacked by the usual suspects. The ambassador asks for security assistance. White House and the Foggy Bottom nabobs do not want to provoke the Muslim locals. Request denied!

Madam Secretary goes off the reservation and hires mercenaries (think Blackwater). The hired guns rescue the ambassador. Oval Office creeps and State Department sissies have to eat crow. Madam establishes herself as a tough broad midst an ocean of flaccid Beltway girly men.

Benghazi, of the real world, is mentioned in passing in case you didn’t get the analogy. With the Hollywood version of embassy assault, the female protagonist is at once a babe – brave, decisive, and successful too.

Real events, alas the obvious Libyan fiasco, saw an evasive Secretary of State and a dithering President who could not and/or did not make a timely decision – or take post facto responsibility for failure. The US ambassador to Libya and staff were abandoned and subsequently slaughtered in the real world. The best explanation that Hillary Rodham Clinton could muster at the time was, “What does it matter?”

Of course, this transparent rewriting of history in Madam Secretary isn’t Ms. Leoni’s fault. Tea is everything that Mrs. Clinton is not: an attractive, believable actress with great legs and good hair. And Leoni is very accomplished at what she does in the working world of Hollywood.

Sexist you say? Alas, television and politics are visual mediums.

Unlike Hillary Clinton, Tea Leoni looks the part – and she is excellent theater too. Unfortunately, Hollywood is using Leoni to airbrush a dowdy Clinton.

Those who believe that looks shouldn’t be part of the political discussion might want to remind Mrs. Clinton that her mono-couture choice of frumpy pants suits just shouts “legs,” an asset she would have us ignore. For the most part, pant suits on an aging lady pol is the male equivalent of a tent shirt on a chunky New Jersey Governor. If you’re in the public eye, appearance matters, no matter the sex.

Madam Secretary, like Zero Dark Thirty, is getting good reviews at just the right time; months before a national congressional election and a year or so before the Clintons go for a third run at the White House. So let’s not kid ourselves about fictions like Madam Secretary or ripe politicians like Hillary Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton will not be running on her looks, issues, competence, or performance in any case. Indeed, no one will argue that Mrs. Clinton is the next Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, or Angela Merkel.

Hillary will run on her genitals and Hollywood is happy to provide all the schmaltz and spin about achievement and courage needed to suggest that Mrs. Clinton is a woman ready to take America’s highest office. Past performance will not matter.

“First woman,” not accomplishment, will be the emotional and political sweet spot for the next two years. Hollywood will do its part making sure that soccer moms get that message with fictions like Madam Secretary. Withal, the same demographic that watches soap operas for entertainment, The View for information, and uses Bart Simpson as a babysitter might put Hillary back in the White House.

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This essay appeared in American Thinker and the Iconoclast

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