The weekend before Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency, I was out with a group of friends discussing the state of politics around the world. While not a single one of us thought Trump had a chance. His candidacy alone was enough to dominate much of the evening’s conversation.
The gist of our little salon-styled debate was whether Trump represents a natural evolution of Republican politics, or an aberration produced by the U.S.’s celebrity-obsessed culture.
I argued that a pretty straight line could be drawn from Ronald Reagan, through George W. Bush to The Donald. All celebrities (Bush by virtue of his father’s presidency), all with a blithe disregard for the finer points of policymaking and actual governing and all known for having a rather casual relationship with truth-telling. In other words, Trump is not the first post-truth U.S. president to come from the right.
In this respect, The Black Dog’s decision to put an image from Bush’s unconscionable war in Iraq on the cover of a new album called Post-Truth is a beautiful exercise in telling it like it is.
The back story of this little piece of broadcast journalism is remarkable. That’s Marine Corporal Edward Chin up there on a ladder, draping an American flag pulled out of the backpack of Marine Lt. Tim McLaughlin over the face of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square. This all went down shortly before the statue was pulled to the ground by an M-88 military tow truck.
It was tailor made for media consumption. The U.S. military wanted a visual that represented victory in Iraq, and they got exactly that. Never mind that victory was a wholly inappropriate way to describe the state of things. The Iraq war – precipitated as it was on a lie about weapons of mass destruction – and the prolonged insurgency that followed killed somewhere between 150,000 and 460,000 people from 2003 to 2010.
All of that is to say that Ken Downie’s decision to put that picture under that title is a brave and timely statement. Downie is joined by Martin and Richard Dust in the current incarnation of the band.
Together, they’ve produced a sharp collection of ambient/darkwave tracks – 12 in all. Nearly 30 years after their first EP release, Downie and co. are making an important, much-welcomed racket.