Just in case you were with Donald Trump’s new Space Force last week, visiting some distant lodestar, and missed the breaking news about Bob Woodward’s new book (“Crazytown!”), that anonymous New York Times op-ed (“Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants…”), and all the excitement, the buzz, the mystery, the routines of those late-night comics, the president’s denunciation from his gut of an unknown but gutless “senior administration official” or his tweet that the unidentified author of that op-ed should be up for “TREASON” (the crime, of course: betraying The Donald) or handed over by the New York Times “for National Security purposes.” Just in case you missed the assessment of Donald Trump as an “idiot” or as having the “understanding of a fifth or sixth grader” (and the denials by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis that they had ever said such things), the stealing of still-to-be-signed trade documents off the president’s desk, and… well, believe me, you had to be there to experience it. It was All the News That’s Fit to Print! And that news, for those of you who were visiting that lodestar during Donald Trump’s presidency so far, is that — *** FLASH! *** — the American people elected a deeply narcissistic, impulsive, erratic, easily angered, not exactly thoughtful, pussy-grabbing guy, previously known for taking five casinos into bankruptcy and not deeply knowledgeable about the state of the world, but unbelievably canny when it comes to attracting attention and making himself the center of everything.
In other words, those of us who remained on Planet Earth in these years have been engulfed in a never-ending media frenzy about things that should have been obvious to anyone who wasn’t on vacation on Mars. The world of The Donald, of “fake news,” is, by definition, a media-frenzied one. Fortunately, TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich, whose newest book, Twilight of the American Century, will be published this fall, is here to tell us that, despite screaming headlines, endlessly talking heads, and monumental tweetstorms, less than you might imagine has actually been going on. Or rather, so much that the media wasn’t paying enough attention to in the years before The Donald was more important than, say, the identity of that anonymous op-ed writer. Here’s Bacevich’s take on what truly matters in our world, without a tweet or an exclamation point in sight.