I know, I know.
Oliver Stone's Showtime Series “The Untold Story of the United States of America” hasn't even started yet. But I'm not waiting for its second season. I'm doing some historical revisionism right now.
It wasn't Barack Obama who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. It was us. The American people. He just picked it up for us.
We – The American Voters – were the ones who actually won the prize by electing him president the year before. On the world's behalf, the Swedes were giving us a prize for joining a pluralistic world and ending our 21st century reign of error.
That's been my theory for years now.
We did something utterly miraculous in 2008, but we couldn't give ourselves sufficient credit because to do so would be to acknowledge tacitly how rigid – and even foolish – a country we'd been until the 2008 election.
When I interviewed superb screenwriter Jenny Lumet – whose father is Sidney Lumet and whose grandmother was Lena Horne and who, therefore, grew up in as colorblind a world as anyone in her time possibly could – she admitted that even she never thought she'd see a president of color in her lifetime.
Consider that. Give it some pause. And think about the quantum leap this country took in 2008. Is it any wonder that so much of America has been in advanced future shock ever since? To live in a country with a black family in the White House and states lining up to approve same-sex marriage is to live in a country whose social rules are so far removed from those so many Americans grew up with that it was nothing if not predictable if people had trouble adjusting at a uniform rate. So many of our fellow citizens are still scared to death of the New Normal – some openly, some covertly.
But that's not easy to talk about. So most people don't. We listen to those who've become tax fetishists. Or who've turned Obama's semi-Rooseveltian New Deal in American health care into some sort of crazed, drooling Marxism from American nightmares of the '50's (The Golden Age of American nightmares.)
On NBC, Savannah Guthrie and Brian Williams talked about race but only the way other commentaters did, in terms of voting blocs.
We do a lot of that in America, i.e., say anything to avoid what we're really talking about. We talk about authorized subjects, not uncomfortable home truths.
Does New York Times poll wizard Nate Silver – with all of his algorithmic mysticism – believe that American electronic media have a huge financial stake in seeing neck-and- neck races where there aren't any? I know all manner of media folks who would privately concur from their gut, just as I know all manner of media folks who've believed all along that the only sliver of justifiable electoral optimism for the Romney campaign was the president's lifeless performance in the first debate.
The president said he needed more coffee on that day, but I'm dying for the insider books to come out to give us the full scoop on that debate mismanagement. I keep wondering if some of it involved the Obamas' wedding anniversary. Could the husband and wife, in a struggle for private moments, have ever-so-briefly wondered privately if all the personal sacrifices were worth it?
Just look at the quantity of campaign advertising we've had to sit through during the 2012 elections. $1.6 billion was spent on the presidential race, they say. The amount of money that has dropped into media pockets has been staggering. Our presidential campaigns are now immense industries. Driving people crazy doesn't come cheap, after all.
Why wouldn't “lamestream media” see parity for the narrative's sake – especially if journalistic “objectivity” within those media outlets requires fairness and balance, even if the real world couldn't give a fig about either.
I think I've heard more home truth about the election from right-wing talkers than left of mainstream media, i.e., Romney wasn't just running against Obama, he was running against Obama AND the media.
There's truth to that. The late night ridicule juggernaut on TV long ago declared open season on Romney, with his wealth, generic good looks, tax breaks and dog tied to the roof of his car. By the same token, it has never quite figured out anything satisfyingly funny about Obama. He and his family are too cool for ridicule. (All the more reason, Romney was deeply foolish for declining a campaign sit-down with David Letterman, his worst late night antagonist.)
To admit how much that matters, though, would be to admit how much of American sentiment is created by entertainment, rather than journalism (which, in truth, may never have been a majority taste).
What does it matter if electronic journalists are mindful of getting information from both the Left Bank and the Right Bank if the water midstream is flowing in one direction?
The politics of the National Entertainment State have never been much in doubt. They're progressive. That's where the young audiences are.
Another unauthorized subject that's frowned upon in our establishment is the degree to which Obama's epochal victory in 2008 – a 8.0 earthquake on the American Richter scale – was only possible as a disgusted reaction to the previous eight years.
Think of it as the “no more idiots” factor. Who knows if Obama would have had as much of a chance as he did in 2008 if George W. had been just a little more articulate and a little less embarrassing? If he'd only known, at least, how to pronounce “nuclear.”? Or if Dick Cheney had had a genuinely warm smile and a slightly less frequent sneer and snarl?
Who knows if John McCain might not have had a chance if HE'D picked a Paul Ryan instead of Sarah “I Can See Russia From My House” Palin?
Conditions were ripe. A miracle happened.
So this year's question, I think, was this: With an economy still troubled from the catastrophes of the Bush years, would the social Future Shock factor prove large enough for Americans to vote for a past that never really was even if it claimed it was the future that ought to be? Would it be enough to give Mitt Romney enough of a tailwind to fly over the National Entertainment State?
As Edward R. Murrow once said – when he was taking his career in his hands to lambaste fearmongering Sen. Joseph McCarthy – “We are not descended from fearful men.”
Our 2008 miracle happened.
It wasn't just a movie. The world noticed.
I keep wondering when we will – fully. Or, if we'll just content ourselves with going to “Lincoln” when it opens nationally on Nov. 16th.