We Don’t Need THIS 90s Show Rebooted

I trudged home yesterday exhausted from a full day of work, exacerbated by slogging through downtown LA traffic in the midst of a downpour, ready to plop down and find some distraction.  Said downpour was actually delaying the Dodger game, so as I was fumbling through the channels and streaming GUIs Roomie noticed I had returned and exclaimed “WHY AREN’T YOU WATCHING THE NEWS?!?!?”.  Devoid of any better option, I flipped on CNN to appease him.

And the overwhelming sense of deja vu came over me.  Along with my ongoing nausea and the impending migraine rainy weather tends to indue in me, it did not help me unwind.

There, once again, were images of explosive devices lighting up the night sky, just like they did back in 1991, when it was our side doing that to Iraq, ushering in the first made-for-TV war in history.  This time, it was the side that at least a plurality of America still seems to support, Israel, being assauged.  And there, once again, was the omnipresence of Wolf Blitzer, perhaps a bit greyer than last time, ready to provide his own version of the Manningcast.  Much like Snoop Dogg has done to weigh in on offensive line play, there was the ever-hawkish John Bolton laying out his playbook for how he’d annihilate Iran in one fell swoop if given the chance.

And it brought me back to that fateful winter night when I was in attendance with my new company at TV’s global marketplace, the NATPE convention in New Orleans.  We were throwing a huge gala in a hotel ballroom, famed chef Paul Prudhomme preparing shrimp etouffes to order, posing shamelessly for pictures with his doppelganger Dom DeLuise.  I was excited to have a chance to meet the collective braintrust from my new company’s home base in New York for the first time since I had joined a few weeks earlier, eager to interact with them, introduce them to some of the talent and agents I had invited to the gala in the hopes of getting signoff on a slew of new shows I had been tasked with developing.  But the news that had broken earlier that day that President Bush (41, for you Gen Zers) was going to deliver an emergency address to the nation at 8 PM central time sharp had taken over the mood.   Several massive big-screen TV consoles were wheeled into the ballroom to assure the attendees they would be able to see and hear his speech.  And when he announced that indeed the U.S. was going to war against Iraq, whatever air had been in the room had been sucked out.  People started to leave in droves, especially if they were from families with military connections.  Prudhomme shut down his cooking station early because there was little demand from those who remained.

And the next day, on the convention floor when important meetings were supposed to have been taking place, virtually no one was hanging around our booths.  Virtually the entire remainder of attendees were canvassing around the Turner Program Services booths, which was home to the CNN global sales team and the only active TV monitors not running loops of the shows they were selling.  They were tuned, of course, to the live CNN feed, and those live images from the Middle East night sky.  People who were carrying around Sony Watchmen (yes, it was a far simpler time) were tuned to the local NBC affiliate and we got our first glimpses of Arthur Kent, the handsome Canadian journalist who NBC commissioned for its coverage and who soon became known as the Scud Stud.  We would soon see a lot more of him, as NBC and other networks routinely wiped out entire blocks of the schedule for extended coverage of the missiles in the night sky and the jingoistic narrative that accompanied it.  CNN capitalized most, not only with record viewership for a network that to that point had been often ridiculed as “Chicken Noodle News”, but also with exponentially increased demand from local stations to purchase rights for breaking news coverage to either create from scratch the ability to cover the Gulf War or supplement what their network was already providing.  Silly little entertainment shows like the ones I was supposed to be finding were no longer a priority, as there was no assurance this war would be over anytime soon and the desire for local stations to partner with companies like mine very much on the back burner.  I was effectively an executive without a purpose, and you know what that means.  Before the war had officially ended I was informed my contract wasn’t being renewed, news I received smack in between losing both my grandmother and mother within ten personally tragic weeks.

And while I realize that many today would scoff at how inconsequential my losses were compared to the type of emotions that yesterday’s strikes evoked, both for those in support of Israel and even those siding with Iran and its supposed puppet, Hamas, what I know I do share is the notion that absolutely nothing good comes from the sight of missiles lighting up the night.

We’re already seeing the political rhetoric amp up on both sides this morning.  USA TODAY’s Kim Hjelmgaard and Susan Miller reported this:

Israel’s military said Sunday that with help from the U.S. and other allies, it shot down more than 300 missiles and drones launched by Iran as part of retaliation for an Israeli missile strike that killed Iranian military commanders earlier this month in Syria.

“We intercepted, we repelled, together we shall win,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on social media ahead of a meeting of his War Cabinet on Sunday to discuss a response to the attack.  Cabinet minister Benny Gantz vowed Iran would pay. ““We will build a regional coalition and exact the price from Iran in the fashion and timing that is right for us,” he said.

My more militant Israel-supporting friends amplified this messaging, along with reminders that “Israel has never fought a war they don’t win”.  To me that sure sounds like the kind of narrative that accompanied those that let us deeper down the Vietnam rabbithole than most ever wanted to be.  Remind me how that all worked out?

Meanwhile, the NEW YORK TIMES reports this:

Several hundred Iranians gathered in Tehran to celebrate the attack. Iran’s Foreign Ministry described the attack as a defensive measure, and the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps warned the United States against getting involved.

And, of course, Fat Orange Jesus can’t help himself with his own spin,  as THE NEW YORK POST’ Katherine Donlevy obligatorially reported:

Former President Donald Trump claimed that Iran’s attack on Israel wouldn’t have been possible if he were still in the White House.  “ISRAEL IS UNDER ATTACK! This should never have been allowed to happen – This would NEVER have happened if I were President!” Trump wrote on Truth Social.

And lest anyone think that this kind of rhetoric potentially having an impact on an impending election is unique to this one, do recall that soon after the afterglow of the relatively swift victory over Iraq George H.W. Bush’s popularity plummeted precipitously, because once the deflection of war was removed it amplified how weak he was in so many other areas.    Joe Biden is already in a far more precarious position even under the most optimistic interpretations of current polling.  Any response at this point will bring him, and the chances Democrats still may have this fall, irrepreable harm.

The longer this 90s revival lasts, the greater the chance we might see recurrences of the results we saw then.

Like I said, in my experience nothing good comes from seeing blitzes, or Blitzer, on my screen.

There are some who compared what Israel was able to do with deflections last night to what ancient Jews were able to do with plagues that enveloped the land that is the backbone of the story of the holiday Passover, which begins next Monday night at sundown.  In that celebration a song is sung called “Dayenu”, which roughly translates to “Enough!”.

To any country beginning with I, and indeed CNN and even Roomie:  Dayenu.

Until next time…

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