Saturday, May 28, 2005

If you're not frothing at the mouth, you lose and election, and then really bad Stuff Happens

I bought the book form of the script for Stuff Happens so I could quote a couple of passages that I really like. Much of the play is made up of direct quotes from the various characters like Bush and Rumsfeld. The play starts with a quote from WH Auden:
The inevitable is what will seem to happen to you purely by chance.
The real is what will strike you as really absurd.
Unless you are certain you are dreaming, it is certainly a dream of your own.
Unless you exclaim - "There must be some mistake" - you must be mistaken.
It's certainly a great way to start a play about the neo-con run up to war. But I discovered a quote at the front of this book that is not in the play that I like even better:
All of us have heard this term "preventive war" since the earliest days of Hitler. In this day and time... I don't believe there is such a thing; and frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing. -- Dwight Eisenhower
And then there's this one to follow that up:
It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into. -- Jonathan Swift
Well, that certainly explains why, despite his passionate pleas to Bush as imagined by David Hare, the author of Stuff Happens, Colin Powell eventually caves in and stops trying to convince these narrow minded fools that they are doing the whole thing wrong. If it all unfolded the way Hare imagines, and it seems likely, then Powell managed to talk Bush into going to the UN, Cheney didn't like it much, and a series of blunders and arrogance turned the whole thing into a debacle, leading to Cheney and Rumsfeld getting their way in the end. Powell comes out looking good, since a play like this needs a good guy of some sort... But in the end, he sells out, plays the good soldier, and does what he's told. We all know how that story ends. The man who could have been the first black President is in a garage somewhere working on his Volvo. At one point, Powell is talking to Bush. Rice is there. He goes off on an impassioned speech about how fucked up this war will be once you invade, and how wrong Wolfowitz and his source (Chalabi) probably are. When he finishes, the audience has applauded every night! It's a great theater moment. But he goes on. Rice asks him what he wants. He says he wants his country to be less arrogant.
POWELL: I want us to go abut this in a different way. Three thousand of our citizens died. They died in an unforgivable attack. But that doesn't license us to behave like idiots. If we reach the point where everyone is secretly hoping that America gets a bloody nose, then we're going to find it very hard indeed to call on freinds when we need them.

BUSH: I've said before: this isn't a popularity contest, Colin. It isn't about being popular.

POWELL: No, it isn't, you're right.


POWELL: It's about being effective. And the present policy of being high-handed as possible with as many countries as possible is profoundly counter-productive. It won't work. There's an element of hypocrisy, George. We were trading with the guy [Saddam]! Not long ago. People keep asking, how do we know he's got weapons of mass destruction? How do we know? Because we've still got the receipts!
This has gotten a big laugh and even some applause every night. During the moments like this during the play, it's a lot like the Fahrenheit 9/11 audiences.

This weekend ends my run on the production phase of Stuff Happens (click the link for tickets and info). I'll be back to fill in for my boss, the master soundman, from June 24th to July 10th. Drop me a line if you're interested in saying hi when you come to see it.

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