I found myself watching Bob Roberts for the first time last night. I can't believe how moved I was - how familiar the worst of Bob Roberts' tactics were. He manipulates the audience while mocking his opponent (They. Them.), and accusing them outright of doing the things he was doing behind everyone's backs. It's a brilliant movie. It's a terrifying movie.
Surprising to me was the work of Gore Vidal as Roberts' opponent. His moments speaking to the camera show an uncanny, astute, and shrewd knowledge of the American political system. Speaking in reference to the coming Gulf War, he ends a mini-soliloquy on the "Enemy of the Month Club" with the observation, "These figures are thrown out to the media and made into great monsters...We blow up these local thugs into these huge Hitler-like figures and pretend it's World War II all over again."
Last week, Roger Ailes of Fox News attempted to elevate his corporate rivalry with National Public Radio to the same plane in an interview with The Daily Beast. Somehow, I doubt that squabbles over media share and journalism standards could ever be in the same ballpark as orchestrated genocide and plans for world domination. Placed in the prism of the Bob Roberts genius - pots calling the kettles black while everyone else sees them as silver - there's a certain offensive manipulation at play. Take this: "They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don't want any other point of view." The twisted logic behind this statement *should* scare you. He is attacking another news organization with a sense of religious self-righteousness, accusing them of the critique his own organization is most accused of. No... his organization is on a sacred quest to liberate the continent from the oppressors - to storm the beaches of Normandy - to stand up against a menace that threatens our liberty and existence.
Or, you know, not - because to make that type of comparison means that one has little to no idea about the actual events that occurred between 1938 and 1945, or he truly believes these things to be comparable - in which case he is unfit to lead a Boy Scout Troop, let alone a major corporation.
And nothing will happen to him because of it. He just rallied his base. And now, those who enjoy the occasional Sylvia Poggioli report from Rome are left to defend NPR as NOT being the Fourth Reich. If you spend that much time defending yourself, it must be true, right?