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Monday, June 05, 2017

Wanted: Role Model Of Strength & Restraint For TV Appearance

By Spocko

My friend Will Bunch wrote a book about Reagan "Tear Down This Myth: The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy" in which he recounted how profoundly the movie The Day After affected Reagan. After watching it, he started reducing our nuclear arsenal.

Reagan needed to see the darkest timeline play out on TV in a serious fashion. That was how he absorbed information, via a visual story that kept him engaged for two hours and 7 minutes. It was a story that emotionally pulled him in. It showed him characters he could care about and identify with.

As an actor Reagan understood the role appearance plays in people's perceptions and self identification.  During his presidency he must have had people telling him. "Look strong against the commies!"  There also had to be others telling him about the danger of brinkmanship with nukes on a hair trigger.  A nuclear exchange is not something we can recover from.  

Fortunately, something about that movie reached Reagan. It got him to reconfigure his world view.  Was it the images of destruction of our country? Did he relate to the characters who were like his own family and friends? Did he put himself in the picture, seeing a leader who failed to protect his country?

People joke about how Trump's staff structured briefings to included his name every third sentence, just so he would pay attention. I say great! Well done! Do what you must to get him to pay attention. Maybe if Condi Rice did something like that with the Presidential Daily Briefing we would be in a different timeline.

In one timeline everyone has goatees

We've seen how DJT takes situations and turns them into personal win or lose contests. He has an idea of what it means to be a man in his personal life and business life.  They have worked for him. He can say, "I've got a hot wife and I'm rich! Why should I listen to anyone?"

However, in the area of international relations, and situations that could lead to war, his model of strength is not working for him--or the US. Trump needs someone to show him that a peaceful solution, instead of a violent one, is a stronger solution.

I have some friends who were serious warriors in the military. Their stories of war curl my straight Vulcan hair. They are now artists, musicians and writers, they are also profoundly anti-war. These are the type of male role models I would want Trump to talk with.

If I wanted to help prevent Trump from starting a war, an armed conflict or a nuclear catastrophe, I would look for men who embodied the strength of NOT starting a fight. These men could describe all the ways that showing restraint is real power.

 I would then try and get these guys in front of Trump to explain how and why restraint will make the mocking stop.  These could be in person meetings but getting them on TV would also reach Trump's base at the same time. My preferred venue for these guys is Fox and Friends (I'm very serious. The producers of that show have tremendous power right now. I don't think I need to quote Uncle Ben to them, but it's true. The good news is that they live on the same planet as we do and many of them have children.)

Attractive humans who solve problems with their brains

I'm a fan of the TV show Madam Secretary. The show depicts real-life solutions to global crisis situations that have been fictionalized. Its lead characters are people who understand what an international crisis situation means on the surface as well as under the facade. The characters know the people and cultures involved in a situation and our history with them.

When it comes time for solutions in the show, there is usually a Security Persona offering the military option which is held off until our heros can find a solution that doesn't lead to war or de-escalates the conflict.  (The Security Persona isn't always rejected, unlike Worf in ST:TNG. )

Yes, I am drawn in by the attractive human female lead that's part of what keeps me engaged. But I also love the banter and how these characters solve problems. That is another form of attraction that keeps me coming back.  What can I say, I'm a sucker for Kobayashi Maru scenarios.  I give credit to the writers Alexander Maggio, Alex Cooley and series creator Barbara Hall for that.

If Trump, like Reagan, needed a fictional show to help him visualize successful crisis management that doesn't involve going to war, I'd recommend this show. But sadly Madam Secretary probably isn't the best show for him.  The good news is we can show Trump the reality of successful solutions to problems that did not lead to war.

For example, look at this real-life success from January 2016 Iran releases 10 US Navy sailors after boat drifted in Persian Gulf

The same career military and state department who worked out that deal are most likely still in place. They could point to that diplomatic solution as a model. But would they even get a chance to talk about it to the president?

This is where my friends in the military, the media, communications and the peace movement could work together.  We could call it the "Let's not blow up the world" coalition.

Is there a retired Navy Admiral who can go on TV and explain how smart the handling of that whole incident was, and how it was a win for the US? (I picked this account because it was recent and public, but I know it has baggage since it involved John Kerry, the Iranians and Obama.)  But if this isn't the right example, and the person in charge isn't the right one to speak, find the ones that can be used.

I like that incident because it was short and appears simple.

1) Nobody died, a war wasn't started and our people were returned safe.


2) We start a war, killing 100's of thousands and costing billions of dollars.

LOSE, bigly!

These are the stories Trump needs to know about. And they need to come from people he trusts, or from people he wants approval from. With Trump who is telling the story is as important as what the story is.

A friend of mine knows the people who helped produce The Day After. They didn't know it at the time, but that movie helped save the world.  Maybe people told them it wouldn't make a difference. "Reagan's set in his ways" they said, "He's 72, he's not going to change his mind now!"

Bear baiting is fun for some people. The media love it. It's dramatic! There will be news!  But the campaign is over, to avoid a tragedy we need to add to our strategy of mocking and blocking.

I know that right this instant there are people in this country figuring out ways to prevent wars and save lives--by understanding how best to interact with President Trump.

To those of you who are working to prevent the darkest timeline, thank you. Keep working. I can't show you the future, but I can remind you that there are people from the past who did avert wars. Lives were saved because people found another way.  You might be alive because they succeeded, and you didn't even know it. Find those people, help them tell their stories.