Wag the Dog is a 1997 film that, with impeccable humor, denounces President Bill Clinton’s attempts to “fabricate” a war against a small, distant and poor nation, like a smokescreen to distract public opinion from its political problems domestic.
Of course, it is presented as fiction. The performance of Robert de Niro and Dustin Huffman maintains the perfect balance between drama and comedy. “Any resemblance to reality is pure coincidence”.
A generation later, the same number is repeated in a new version, half cartoonish half grotesque, in which the President of the United States tries to draw off the attention at he trial against himself at the U.S. congress.
Accused of blackmailing Ukraine to hurt Joe Biden, in a matter of days Mr. Trump ordered an Iranian general to be killed, he went to the mega-rich conclave in the Swiss paradise of Davos, to fight with an environmentalist girl and returned to Washington DC to offer a magic formula to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In the first wag the dog, fiction is used to tell a truth – in Clinton’s own words: “drop millions-dollar bombs to destroy $50- huts.” In the second it is the reality that is presented as a gross distraction montage. Including, probably, the big media show about the new virus attacks in China.
Still able to turn the Republican majority in the Senate into a wall against the torrent of evidence against him, the genius of Fake-news and insults makes a huge propaganda effort to avoid continuing to fall in the polls that continue to keep him as one of the most unpopular presidents in history.
Nine months and a week before the presidential election, Mr. Trump seems to bet on the victory of the spectacle over how little real and serious is left in the world of politics and the media. By the way, both –media and politics–, come with deep roots within the entertainment universe.
Comparable to the worst populist leaderships of the last century, Trump was able to build a fortune from the promotion of his ego in P.R. & entertainment. He jumped to conquer the media machinery by spreading the lie that Barak Obama – the first black president in history from the country— ” really was born in Kenya.” Then he turned to his crazy promise of the “great wall” of 2,000 miles against the “bad men” (Mexicans) to mobilize racists, extremists, and isolationists on their behalf.
More symptom than the cause of the great problems of the present time, President Trump continues down in all the electoral polls against his main opponents. Whether Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or Biden himself, at this time any of them could prevent the reelection of the gentleman from the colorful toupee. It is assumed.
The enormous advantage of the character that opened Pandora’s box in which American society managed for decades to contain its worst prejudices, racist passions, great frustrations and the greatest excesses of greed and selfishness, is what, from the perspective of experts and specialists, has practically never been considered as a viable alternative. Neither in 2016.
However, against all the forecasts, Trump won. A triumph for cynicism, social hatred, and more sophisticated media manipulation.
At this point in the White House dispute, it seems clear that Trump will continue to move the threads within the Senate and therefore survive the impeachment. In a few months, the Democratic candidate will be defined, and the electoral campaign will formally begin.
As in all midterm elections, the contest will be basically a kind of referendum on the current president. In this case, it is up to the Democratic party to try to generate a great movement of rejection of the character who has been more than clear in his contempt for women, immigrants, Latinos, African Americans and almost any type of minority. Turning anger into hope is the great political challenge of 2020.
With the force of inertia in his favor, the very disenchantment of broad social groups outside political activism and his proven ability to move in the swamp of scandals and lies, Donald Trump is more likely to be reelected than he did 4 years when he crushed Republican candidates for the presidential candidacy and succeeded in snatching Hillary Clinton the necessary votes within the Electoral College that is the true ruler behind the American democracy.