Sometimes I wonder if today’s crop of U.S. pundits and pols could ever rise to meet some truly urgent need of the American people, let alone the interests of the world. Everything, it seems, is done with a snigger and an attitude – even as we stumble into a wholly unnecessary confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia over which batch of thieves and oligarchs gets to run Ukraine.
There’s an old joke about Washington being Hollywood for ugly people, but Washington also turns out to be Comedy Central for unfunny people. We’re left with a tedious column by The New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman lamenting that we’re having a new “Cold War without the fun – that is, without James Bond, Smersh, ‘Get Smart’ Agent 86‘s shoe phone, Nikita Khrushchev’s shoe-banging, a race to the moon or a debate between American and Soviet leaders over whose country has the best kitchen appliances.”
Yuk, yuk! So, clever! But Friedman, the ever-clueless columnist, misses the fact there was another side to the best humor and satire about the Cold War. Movies, like Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove” (1964), pointed to the grim absurdity of mutual assured destruction. Even some of the goofier comedies, like “Get Smart,” parodied the supposed glamour of Cold War spy-craft.