An interesting collision of influences yesterday led me to a fresh, if somewhat offbeat, view of our current politics. Exulting in Massachusetts’ repudiation of Obama’s socialist agenda, I went off to see the fun new film The Book of Eli, then returned home to enjoy Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood and Big Journalism websites with their celebratory reconsideration of our much maligned former president George W. Bush.
In The Book of Eli, Denzel Washington, as the title character, is a post-Apocalyptic warrior charged by God with preserving the last copy of the Holy Bible. Good idea, Eli. Even if it had no religious significance – even if it contained only Genesis, Exodus, Psalms and the Gospel of Mark – the Bible would still be as titanic a work of literature as any in the western canon. Combine it with the plays of Shakespeare and you could say of them – as novelist Henry James quipped of cats and monkeys – “All human life is there.”
One particularly scathing depiction of human life and nature comes in the Gospel scene in which Pilate offers the people a choice: should he free Jesus or the murderous revolutionary Barabbas? Spurred by the priests desperate to protect the authority of the central Temple, the people shout, “Give us Barabbas!” And when offered Jesus, they cry, “Crucify him!”
Weirdly, the philosopher Plato predicted something like this would happen some three and a half centuries before Jesus was born. In the Republic, he explained that if there ever came to be a Just Man, he would, by his very nature, care only about “being not seeming.” Indifferent to whether or not he appeared just, he would lose the favor of the mob. “The best of men who is thought to be the worst,” he will, Plato said, “at last be crucified.” The Unjust Man, on the other hand, “clings to appearance as the true reality,” and so wins a great reputation and becomes a leader.
Which brings me to Mssrs Bush and Obama. While I hesitate to declare W the “Just Man,” and Obama the ultimate in injustice, is there anyone who could doubt which of them is more about appearance and which more real? If Bush had one great flaw as a politician, it was his unwillingness or inability to defend his actions and reputation against the ceaseless and often scurrilous attacks of an elite media class who felt he had cheated them out of the power that was theirs by right of birth. Bush was no Jesus, but they sure enough nailed him up.
Conversely, Obama is all seeming, willing to say anything and appear to be anything to push his left wing agenda forward. It’s as if he imagines the presidency to be essentially a TV job in which you win the people’s favor by what you look like, what you say, rather than what you stand for, what you do. And the media, sharing his vision of government of, by and for the elites, have done everything they can to protect his ephemeral holgraphic image and turn a blind eye to the facts of his life, actions and associations.
Power – statist power controlled by elites like themselves – that’s the Temple the media are trying to protect, whether they know their own motives or not. They are the Temple priests moving among us, whispering, “Give us Barabbas,” and “Crucify him!”