In a transparently unhinged and partisan hit job against several Bush administration officials, Newsweek thought it would be amusing to compare the Bush era and the Obama era by analogizing them with Star Wars and Star Trek respectively. Naturally Newsweek’s Bush Derangement Syndrome was given full throated expression — phasers set to kill not to stun — as the Bush administration officials were noted as representing one or the other of the evil Star Wars characters while all the Obama officials were compared to the good guys in Star Trek. What we get is the typical Old Media talking point: Bush evil/ Obama good.
Out of the 9 Star Wars characters used on the SW side to explain the Bush era, only 5 are conceivably a good guy. The rest are all the SW bad guys. But even that isn’t as it would seem on its face. It’s so bad that even when Newsweek uses any of the ostensible good guy characters from Star Wars, their caption tends to undercut the good nature of the character when coupled with a Bush official. For instance, we all know that the happy and fun character of C-3PO is a beloved Star Wars character, but in Newsweek’s hands the venerable, loyal robot becomes former Bush Spokesman Ari Fleischer. Why is C-3PO like Fleisher? Why because he’s “obsequious” and “glabrous,” of course. Hardly flattering.
It gets worse. On the Star Trek side only one of the 9 Star Trek characters used for Obama era figures is a Star Trek bad guy. Evil Klingon Commander Kor becomes… wait for it… Rush Limbaugh! That’s right, the only bad guy on Newsweek’s Obama side is Limbaugh. Every other Obama era official is compared to a Star Trek good guy and lionized in the caption.
So what is the outcome? Let’s take the Bush/Star Wars side first. Bush himself is the evil, tragic Darth Vader, Rumsfeld is the evil general Grand Moff Tarkin, Cheney is the corrupt and venal Star Wars Emperor, Rove the sneaky, uncaring bounty hunter Boba Fett, and Alberto Gonzales is a “disposable flunky” Stormtrooper.
Now, W’s dad, former president H.W. Bush, is coupled with Obi-Wan Kenobi. You might then say, well SEE, Obi-Wan is a good guy. Oh, but wait for the caption. You see, H.W. Bush is Obi-Wan because he was the “confirmed sage disappointed by the cherished disciple Vader.” In other words, he is the wise father disappointed by the failure son. According to Newsweek, then, H.W. Bush was the “good” president because Newsweek agreed with H.W.’s wrongheaded foreign policy.
Worse is the silly portrayal of Colin Powell as the Han Solo frozen in carbonite. You see, in Newsweek’s eyes Powell was a good guy that was “thwarted by Vader.” So, even as they compare Powell to one of the Star Wars heroes they pick the time in the movie series when that hero was frozen and powerless, unable to be a hero.
But what of the wonderful, bright and shining Obama era? Who are they in the Star Trek universe? Prepare to be sickened.
Naturally, Obama is the logical Spock, the smartest guy in the room, with “cool, collected” brilliance. Robert Gibbs is teamed with Lt. Uhura simply as “communications chief.” No dig at the failure that is Gibbs is given by Newsweek, of course. Ben Bernanke is Scotty because he’s warning of the troubles ahead. Tax cheat Timothy Geithner is Nurse Chapel because he’s a “dependable helping hand.” Axelrod is Checkov merely because he “sets the course.” I already mentioned Limbaugh as the eeeevil Klingon.
Now we get to the two that might be considered a jab, but only just.
VP Biden is compared to D. McCoy with this odd caption: “Salty motormouth who thinks he knows best.” This I find to be an insult to McCoy because Dr. McCoy was never in the Star Trek series the clown that Biden is in real life.
Finally, we get Bill Clinton compared to the scarred and withered version of Star Trek’s Captain Pike, the man that commanded the Enterprise before Captain Kirk did in the TV series. Bill Clinton is like Pike because he was “so talented, so promising… so damaged.” And this too is a bad analogy. Pike is nothing like the disloyal, womanizing Clinton. All Captain Pike fans should be telling Newsweek to shove it.
… of course, any Bush fans should be too.
(And this is doubly galling for me because I think Star Wars is kiddie, junk. Star Trek was the one with the intellectual heft between the two. Sigh.)