The Memory Span of Fungus
By Alan Caruba
February 25, 2013
I have been puzzling over what I perceive as the growing loss of public interest in the Benghazi debacle in which an American ambassador and three others lost their lives and the former Secretary of State in a pique of anger over questions about the event said, “What difference does it make?”
It makes a difference if the State Department was derelict or indifferent to the ambassador’s cables that spelled out the security threats that he and his staffed faced or, for that matter, the attacks on other diplomats and humanitarian organizations operating in what was a war zone. African migrant workers had earlier been attacked creating an evacuation crisis, but the September 11, 2012—a noteworthy anniversary—attack simply accelerated the flight from a lawless region controlled by al Qaeda.
It makes a difference if, as we have since learned, the President was entirely detached from the crisis of the attack in Benghazi after initially been informed of it. No one, it seemed, took any action despite the six hours of the attack though it was reportedly seen in real time via satellite drone surveillance.
It makes a difference if the White House, in concert with the State Department, concocted a story that made no mention of al Qaeda, said the attack on the anniversary of 9/11 was “spontaneous”, and was the result of a video that no one had seen.
Now, six months later, with the exception of Fox News, there is little notice taken of what is arguably a major scandal, one of incompetence followed by deception, and which, like “Fast and Furious”, the gun-running scandal to Mexican drug cartels dreamed up and covered up in the Department of Justice, is fading not just from the news, but from the memories of Americans.
My theory is that the cabal in the White House, led by the President, knows well that all they have to do is stall long enough and the initial outrage will go away, if it hasn’t already. Even the Congressional committees and their inquiries will lose momentum. The public is asking “What next?” instead of “What happened?”
Complicating this are the hearings on the President’s choices for cabinet posts. Former Senator John Kerry sailed through to his appointment as the new Secretary of State, but others like former Senator Chuck Hagel as the next Secretary of Defense and John Brennan as the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency are foundering briefly over concerns that the former is an incompetent, bigoted fool and the latter may be an Islamic “mole”.
The public, meanwhile, is distracted over the prospect of “sequestration”, blames the Republicans when in fact it was a proposal made by the President to force Congress to address the growing national debt and annual deficit. As he said during a 2008 election debate, he was sure it would be derailed by some kind of agreement.
His failure or refusal to come to any agreement regarding spending cuts, however, ensures that sequestration will become the law of the land. His outlandish lies about the shutdown of vast elements of the government are ludicrous. They are a part of the way the Obama administrations rules from crisis to crisis, spreading widespread fear among Americans.
There are plenty of other distractions as the 24/7 news cycle provides coverage of every new crisis somewhere in the world and here at home of dramatic weather events, fires, murders, sports, and the usual celebrity blather.
I often include references to history when I write, but I have begun to conclude that only the older portion of my readers have any real grasp of those events to which I refer. I am inclined to believe that many under age fifty and many more under thirty have no real grasp of U.S. or world history. Even Vietnam and Watergate are “ancient” history to most as is the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
It is already twelve years since 9/11 in 2001. In that time, our military has been bogged down in Afghanistan and fought a war in Iraq to no effect other than deposing its former dictator, Saddam Hussein. That war, however, may have encouraged the citizens in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt to force out their dictators, but lacking any experience with democracy, they have only exchanged the former dictators for new ones, often allied with the Muslim Brotherhood. Syria is two years into a civil war with 70,000 dead.
I have begun to suspect that the advent of the Internet and the way news is now swiftly packaged and presented has left too many, but particularly the young, living entirely in the present with neither knowledge, nor interest in the past—even the recent past.
With our blogs and our ability to comment on everything as it occurs on Facebook or via Twitter, we are suspicious of the “experts”—people who may actually have the knowledge and experience to comment in a cogent, informed fashion—because we know what we “feel” even if we do not know what we do not know!
Too many of those experts come with an agenda that is intended to keep us frightened and compliant.
That is why this White House feels confident it can tell us the same lies over and over again, secure in the knowledge that we will only remember them, however briefly, and then move on to whatever the latest, the present news may be.
We are developing the memory and attention span of fungus.
That changes our relationship with the White House, Congress, the arcane workings of the Federal Reserve, the dizzying ups and downs of Wall Street, the imponderable fact that so many millions of our countrymen are unemployed, and that news of the latest Northeastern blizzard has already replaced the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.
“We are the people we have been waiting for,” President Obama said during his 2008 campaign. I hope not. The sheer novelty of electing the first black President was sufficient to get him elected. That was just over four years ago and the novelty is gone. All that remains are the lies and an economy in disrepair.
The reality of Obamacare and other elements of the President’s agenda are beginning to bite, but the bulk of Americans are now conditioned to live in the present, ignore even the recent past, and regard the future as chaos. They only know what is occurring to themselves today. Who can or even will plan for the future when you have credit cards?
Alan Caruba is an American public relations counselor and freelance writer who is a frequent critic of environmentalism, Islam and research on global warming. In the late 1970s Caruba founded the PR firm The Caruba Organization, and in 1990, the National Anxiety Center, which identifies itself as "a clearinghouse for information about 'scare campaigns' designed to influence public policy and opinion" on such subjects as global warming, ozone depletion and DDT.