I heard bits and pieces of Mike Wallace’s creepy interview with Sean Hannity regarding the Ahmadinijad interview 60 Minutes scored. I knew how Wallace praised Ahmadinijad’s shoes and admired how well-spoken he was. I knew that these superficial attributes so impressed the superficial Wallace that he was unable to see that these attributes don’t negate the fact that a person can be completely evil. I mean, it’s easy and almost hackneyed at this point to recite the usual blah-blah about Hitler loving children; Truman erroneously believing Stalin was a regular Joe; Bundy’s colleagues finding him charming; and Jeffrey Dahmer’s quiet side.
What I didn’t realize when I heard all these tidbits about the 60 Minutes interview is how complete Wallace’s cognitive dissonance is. DeWinter, who blogs at The Free West, didn’t miss that, though, since he offers a striking piece of the Hannity-Wallace transcript:
“He doesn’t like the United States for the reason that it’s supporting the Zionist entity – he doesn’t talk about Israel,” Wallace told radio host Sean Hannity. “Yes he says ‘wiped off the map,’ and of course I asked him over and over about that. He says in effect, ‘It’s perfectly sensible that, if there is a Holocaust – and let’s buy the fact that there was a Holocaust – [we ask] where did the Holocaust take place? Did it take place in an Arab neighbourhood? Did it take place in Jerusalem? No. It took place in Germany. Then it seems to me, under those circumstances, take Israel, the Zionist entity,’ he called it, ‘move it to Germany. Move it to Europe. That’s where it happened.'”
“So you don’t think he’s an anti-Semite?” asked Hannity.
“He himself, an anti-Semite, an anti-Jew?” Wallace responded.
“Yes,” said Hannity.
“No, I don’t,” Wallace said.
Did you see how Wallace parrots Ahmadinijad’s habit of referring to Israel as the “Zionist entity?” That could just be a speech pattern, although an irritating one. What’s staggering is how, in the face of Ahmadinijad’s repeatedly stated desire to wipe Israel and her citizens off the map solely because they are Jewish, Wallace states firmly and unequivocally that Ahmadinijad is not an anti-Semite. Wallace, of course, is Jewish.
I’m struggling for some analogy here just to show how disconnected Wallace is from reality. He’s on the equitator, complaining of the cold; he’s in an igloo, rhapsodizing about the warm air; he’s falling from an airplane, boasting about the soft mattress awaiting him, thousands of feed below. These are all weak simulacrums. How does one account for this pathological denial of reality? It’s too easy to point to Wallace’s age (86) and say he’s simply senile. He’s too highly functioning in most ways to have that as an excuse. If he is senile, he’s almost certainly just forgetful, not stupid.
In lieu of the easy shot — senility — I’m perfectly willing to offer a few theories. My first theory is that this is an extreme manifestation of Bush Derangement Syndrome, this time appearing as the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” version. That is, because Wallace is opposed to Bush, and Ahmadinijad is opposed to Bush, then Adhadinijad must be a good guy. Heck, the Iranian leader even poked fun at Bush. What could be more cool or a better bonding experience?
My second theory is that Wallace, who has a history of depression, may have other mental problems, and is genuinely delusional. As with the senility theory, I think this one is a cop-out. It’s too easy an out for a man who, unlike most Americans actually understand reality, has a cush bully pulpit — even if his church, CBS, is in its twilight years.
My third theory is that Wallace thinks he’s being a brave iconoclast by standing up to conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom holds that Ahmadinijad — who thinks he’s enveloped in light at summit meetings, that he can stop time, and that it’s his responsibility (perhaps with nuclear help), to wipe out an entire nation — is a few cards short of a deck, a few bricks short of a load, a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. How common to go with that herd. How much better to point to Ahmadinijad’s shoes — he is, after all, a snazzy dresser — and deny the obvious about the whole person. If this is true, if Wallace is trying to elevate himself to buck a trend, he falls into the category of being sharp enough to cut himself. I only hope he doesn’t draw blood from the rest of us.
My fourth theory is that, a la Lamont and the others in the anti-War crowd, Wallace is trying to offer carrots in the form of good feelings. Ahmadinijad is clearly suffering from low self-esteem and, in this anti-War worldview, insulting the man — even if those insults state the bald truth — is just bad form. How much better to praise Ahmadinijad for being a good man, a smart man (and a snazzy dresser, of course), in the hopes that he’ll conform his behavior to these wishful thoughts.
Having written all this, I’ve come to the conclusion that the 60 Minutes interview involved, not one madman, but two.