After all of us had a bit of fun with Michele Bachmann's gaffe on John Wayne this week, I think it's important to point out why even if she got confused over where John Wayne was born and where serial killer John Wayne Gacy carried out his serial murders, the issue that our corporate media refused to address is the fact that she was praising John Wayne as some role model that Republicans should be emulating in the first place, and her saying "That's the kind of spirit that I have, too" and completely ignoring how ridiculous propping that man up as some bastion of conservatism is to begin with.
That is if you want to actually look at how he actually lived his life and not the myth that's been propagated in our media about him and that Michele Bachmann apparently decided to embrace.
Salon's Glenn Greenwald wrote a really excellent book back in 2008 which I bought and thoroughly enjoyed reading shortly after it came out titled Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics. If you want to read more, go buy it but I'm going to share a bit of the preface here that explains in very clear terms why any praise of John Wayne as we heard from Bachmann should be ripe for mockery, but since it's our media that's been more than happy to participate in continuing that myth about Wayne and others that Greenwald addressed in his book, we're never going to hear any of them talk about this. If we do I'll be pleasantly surprised, but I'm not holding my breath.
Rough transcript of some of Glenn's opening to his book below the fold.
For the past three decades, American politics has been driven by a bizarre anomaly. Polls continuously show that on almost every issue, Americans vastly prefer the politics of the Democratic Party to those of the Republican Party. Yet during that time, the Republicans have won the majority of elections. This book examines how and why that has happened.
The most important factor, by far, is that the Republican Party employs the same set of personality smears and mythical, psychological, and cultural images to win elections. These myths and smears are amplified by the right-wing noise machine and mindlessly adopted by the establishment media. Right-wing leaders are inflated into heroic cultural icons, while Democrats are demonized as weak and hapless losers. These personality-based myths overwhelm substantive discussions and consideration of the issues.
Time and time again, Americans vote Republican due to their perceptions that right-wing leaders exude such admirable personality traits as courage, conviction, strength, wholesome family morality, identification with the “regular guy,” an affection for the military, fiscal restraint, and a belief in the supremacy of the individual over the government. Ronald Reagan, the wholesome “Everyman” rancher, and George W. Bush, the swaggering, conquering cowboy rode to victory on the basis of the cartoon imagery and marketing themes that defined them.
The sheer pervasiveness of this political deceit is somewhat new, but the deceit itself goes back decades. As examined in Chapter One, one of the earliest pioneers of this manipulative right-wing marketing was John Wayne. Wayne was a draft dodger during World War II, staying home in Hollywood, getting rich by playacting as a war hero in one film after the next while his acting peers were off fighting in combat. Wayne then spent the rest of his life preening around as a swaggering, uber-patriotic tough guy—cheering for one war after another and viciously castigating war opponents as cowards and subversives.
With the enormous gap between his self-righteous moralizing rhetoric and the way he actually lived his life, John Wayne proved himself to be one of the first right-wing Great American Hypocrites. He tirelessly crusaded for wholesome American morals and publicly condemned any perceived deviations. Yet Wayne's personal life was a never-ending carousel of adultery, divorces, new wives, shattered families, pills, booze, and unrestrained hedonism.
Maybe one of these days someone in our media will ask Bachmann why a draft-dodging, fake war hero adulterer, divorcee, drunken, pill popping hedonist like Wayne is someone she'd like to emulate, but I'm not counting on that happening any time soon.