Sneak Preview: What's Hot For Fall? How About World War 3?
Whatever happened to quiet confidence? Remember leaders who reassured the populace that things would be okay, and pressed on through events like the World War 2 bombing of London with classy displays of courage and genuine resolve? What we've witnessed these last few years is a hype campaign of a completely different sort. Instead of selling themselves as steady leaders who have the situation under control, this White House team is overcompensating for its own lack of gravitas by insisting we are actually in World War 3. After over 50 years of trying to avoid the next big war this group is trying to pretend it is already underway. They are selling an image of the world as a much worse place than it really is, in the hopes that they will stay in power because the frightened populace will see them as the ones best suited to handle the dangerous new situation. Meanwhile, they're also taking an active role in manufacturing that horrendous new situation with unnecessary disasters like the war in Iraq. On a psychological level, this stems from a realization that good government is not much fun, especially when you don't have the intellectual skills to excel at it. The pattern is to latch onto the sort of drama that best suits your struggling self-image: "I'm a wartime president", Bush said after 9/11, and you could almost see him puffing himself up in front of a mirror as he nodded his head while he repeated the words. It was just a matter of getting a real war to make it true. We still don't have one, so these merchants of hype have fanned out to sell the Fall line-up: Boring plaids are out, camouflage is in. Welcome to World War 3! "Life on earth is spinning out of control, and you could be part of it!" Americans are paying over a trillion a year for the United States government to make the world a calm, safe place for us to live in freedom. But that's not what we're getting. We're getting a bunch of warrior drama majors who went out of their way in Iraq to make the world a crazier place, and now that it is, they're screaming, "See, I told you! It's World War 3, run for your lives!!!!" Initial sales reports seem less robust than expected, but the current campaign runs through November and there's always the chance of a last-minute buying surge, especially if an event comes along that puts the fear of God into those procrastinators. The only problem with this reckless, hysterical type of leadership is that it could actually lead to a real World War 3 - not a marketing campaign, but the actual thing. That's the power of nuclear weapons, and the reason we should always be trying to keep the lid on, rather than tear it off. That's the beauty of government leadership that tries to keep things calm and diffuses situations rather than exploits them for heightened tension. Instead, this group of phoney chicken-hawk cowboys is always trying to turn up the heat and escalate the violence. Perhaps it comes down to their need to feel excitement - their need to stand in front of that mirror and say, "Wow, look at me!" Who knows, but it's leading us into great danger. The trouble with this marketing campaign is that a real World War 3 has no Day After Sale.