Rumsfeldia: Fear and Loathing in the Decade of Tears

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Drew, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016

    But I think the point of the character is he doesn't, in the words of Al Pacino's Satan "pull the strings," he merely "sets the stage." He can only be as powerful as others let him. And again, the only time he directly steps in is in periods of chaos.

    I imagined something similar in an earlier discussion.

    In an ITTL comic book, it will depict Captain America fighting against an America gone evil, written by an American comic book artist in exile. The main villain of the story being an American agent who targets Cap for "his lack of patriotism".

    The villain of the story will be revealed to be a Red Skull who took the place of the American President, and used his disguise to turn America into a police state. When the American agent, who was willingly done the Skull's actions, confronts the Skull for deceiving him, Skull points out that it took little effort to get the agent to do horrible shit, and that the agent could've just refused.

    Ultimately, the American people are responsible, because obedience mattered more then holding American ideals in their heart. In a final twist of the knife, the Skull tells the agent he would make an excellent Nazi.

    I think the trope of an evil President will become highly popular ITTL.

    Well, maybe not at first, but...

    Rumsfeld eventually decided that chaos was a good way to assure American hegemony. He actually spent money looking for ways to destabilise and divide America's former allies. Among other things, he trashed America's Special Relationship by funding Protestant Irish terrorism, thinking it would knock out commies and destroy competition on the global stage. He also didn't care if Latin America became chaotic, as long as he could rule over the pieces.

    To me, the most horrifying moment in the story came when the Indians actually used a battlefield nuke in their civil war, and Rumsfeld was pleased by it.

    Even the worst American President OTL ought to be terrified by the casual use of nukes, because that shit is a danger to global peace. That's why Wallace and Suslov put aside their grudges ITTL to put the Lesser Mao in his place.

    Rumsfeld himself saw it as an OPPORTUNITY to use nukes in his military campaign.

    That was the prelude to the CVs deciding that nukes could be used on those pesky Satanists (aka those cities that would not vote for the CVs). In both actions, the CSA and Rumsfeld become the threat to human civilization.

  2. Saint_007 The King Of Nothing

    Sep 17, 2011

    Yeah, come to think of it, that's pretty much how the old woman described him.
    You mentioned this before.

    Sadly, the big problem with this scenario is that, well, Warner owned both DC and Marvel - and TRW bought it out, owning both. If anything, I can foresee both Superman and Captain America becoming the sort of despot-supporting bastards they were meant to fight. I tried to think of a plausible scenario where the united DC-Marvel comics bunch manage to get their independence then move to Canada then California and remain a symbol of freedom. Sadly, none of them were realistic.

    So yeah, the comic icons would be tarnished too.
    I think it was already popular when Tricky Dick was exposed :p Hell, IOTL, he was regarded as the archetype schemer, and he would have been a pretty popular to pick on until Wallace and Rumsfeld showed that yes, things can get much worse.
    At this point, Rummy is less a leader than a caricature. While it's based on his OTL beliefs, ITTL he's just gone beyond the pale and into the ridiculous - if it weren't so tragic.
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  3. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    "Yes, he was manipulative, but you could've easily disobeyed him. You didn't, and thus you have yourself to blame."

    Yeah, I can see Superman and Captain America becoming grotesque parodies of themselves. Their enemies are not evil businessmen or warmongers, but communists, the limey Brits, the African nationalists, and the moderate Democratic "fellow traveler."

    Exiles might write their own underground comics about everything that happened.

    Well, before Rumsfeld, Wallace might be seen as the typical "promises too much politician." By the end of his term, Wallace was just seen as a pathetic weathervane with no beliefs.

    ITTL, however, their reputations have recovered tremendously: Nixon is now denouncing Rumsfeld and running an anti-American rebel group. Wallace has forced himself out of retirement to save his beloved state from Rumsfeldia, and his risking his skin to save it from an actual federal tyranny.

    The image of "evil President" will be a bespectacled nutcase cackling about freedom in a vapid and self-serving way.

    He is a being without any beliefs except "what will give me the most power."
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  4. Arthur Marston Well-Known Member

    Mar 11, 2019
    TTL Rumsfeld's beliefs are a million miles from his OTL beliefs.
  5. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    Because the TTL world is very different.
  6. Geon Well-Known Member

    Jul 22, 2010
    I totally agree here! Lest we forget (in more ways then one) remember this particular incident occurred today 18 years ago and how OTL Rumsfeld reacted during it.

    Please let's be careful to remember the Rumsfeld of TTL is NOT the same person as in OTL.
    Saint_007 likes this.
  7. 4WantofaNail Mr. Self Destruct

    Jul 20, 2016

    That'd be a shame. King isn't exactly sympathetic to right-wing politics so I could see some of his later books being colored by the hellscape of Rumsfeldian America, if he writes them.

    To an extant I agree, though I'd like to pint out that in The Eyes of the Dragon and King's later book series The Dark Tower Flagg is indeed the one pulling the strings, directly causing the chaos instead of merely exploiting it like in The Stand.

    There's also hints of him appearing in other Stephen King books to either exploit or cause chaos. In the King story Children of the Corn (written and published in 1977, while King was concurrently working on The Stand), the fundamentalist Christian cult in Gatlin, Nebraska, worship a monster called "He Who Walks Behind The Rows", who keeps their corn fertile in exchange for sacrifices of anyone at or above the age of 19 (lowered to 18 by the book's end), and it's heavily implied that He Who Walks Behind The Rows is just another form of Randall Flagg. In this case he is the one exploiting chaos again, like his actions in The Stand. Children of the Corn could be seen as another cautionary tale that wasn't heeded ITTL, of religious mania run rampant and used by a monster (in the story's case a literal one while in America's case a figurative one).

    I can almost imagine, vividly, after Rumsfeld's first failures in politics trying to be a politician in Illinois, the Walkin' Dude strolling up to a weeping and despairing Rumsfeld, putting a hand on the man's shoulder, asking him what's the matter. And after Rummy divulges his troubles, his struggles to make it in politics, I can see Flagg flashing a wicked grin, reassuring him it'll be alright, to keep trying his hand at it, and finally giving him some pointers, all of which would be put to use when Rumsfeld becomes governor, then later President.

    And perhaps at Rumsfeld's inauguration, that same man could be seen as an audience member, applauding, cheering, smiling.
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  8. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    Wow, Flagg is like IT, but with reach outside of Maine. He sounds like the de facto Greater Scope Villain of the Stephen King world.

    I suppose the idea of a supernatural force possessing America into becoming a wretched place might seem attractive...but more drama might come out of the fact that many Americans willingly sided with both Rumsfeld and the CV, and how they were manipulated by their own bigotry, elitism, and paranoia.

    I bet some people might think the same thing of Douglas Coe.
    4WantofaNail and Kennedy Forever like this.
  9. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    By the ITTL 2000, the crimes of the Lesser Mao are well known.

    ITTL Americans have experienced what the Mainland Chinese have experienced: mass murder, brutal slave labor, and nuclear genocide at the hands of a fanatic.

    That person wouldn't be elected dog catcher.
  10. CapitalistHippie Stassen 2020

    Apr 11, 2018
    Honestly I wouldn't be shocked if King was dead ITTL sadly. He had severe drug addiction problems in the 1980's and nearly overdosed at one point. And that was with being a fairly successful author in our 1980's. He probably wouldn't be doing much better in Rumsfeldia even if he's too low-profile to be targetted by Rummy in this universe.
  11. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    According to his book, by 1974, he was too poor to afford his own phone. I don't think the more weakened economy did him any favors.

    And the 1980s ITTL have steamrolled everybody not in the 1% percent.
    CountofDooku likes this.
  12. Sunstone77 Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2018
    King definitely seems like one of the people who’d be massively screwed over in this timeline. Would be interesting though if he survived and wrote based off his own experience. Imagine a Green Mile that instead of being set in a Great Depression era Deep South prison, it’s a Rummy or CV detention centre
  13. Pyro Love the platypus, obey the platypus.

    Jun 20, 2006
    Neither here nor there
    In my mind, Superman and Captain America would be damaged beyond repair as icons and exiled creators would have to create their own pastiches. For example, it is still possible that Alan Moore could still revive Marvelman (or Miracleman in the US IOTL) in the 80s. Captain Canuck could gain greater cultural prominence in Canada in the absence of American comic books. Part of me hopes Stan Lee managed to escape to California and reunite with Jack Kirby, to attempt a Marvel v2.
  14. PGF Well-Known Member

    Aug 3, 2017
    I am a Doctor Who fan what ever happened to it in the UK.
  15. The Jovian The Red Gas Giant

    Jun 27, 2015
    England, UK
    I imagine it stayed mostly the same, maybe the Seventh Doctor era features a few swipes at Rumsfeld and Rumsfeldist politicians. I was actually thinking of offering my version of the Seventh Doctor story The Happiness Patrol as a dark satire of Rumsfeld's America, with the titular patrol being a Liberty Battalion stand-in that kidnaps and brainwashes political dissidents for not being happy enough.
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  16. Ventriloquist Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2013
    IIRC, since the Tories aren't in power during the 80s, Michael Grade never becomes BBC Director-General, so Doctor Who isn't cancelled.
    Kennedy Forever likes this.
  17. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    I don't know if he'd write the Green Mile.

    In a paper I wrote in middle school, I observed that The Green Mile is the inverse of the Shawshank Redemption: despite it being a condemnation of the death penalty, the central protagonists are the Death Row guards, and it is them who are portrayed sympathetically and have the moral dilemma: executing a man who turns out to be innocent.

    With the American prison system becoming even worse then OTL, and then being transformed into an actual system of mass murder, I doubt prison guards will be seen as sympathetic in a TTL novel.

    With America making neoliberalism into something utterly toxic, people ITTL might joke that Rumsfeld was the true enemy of the Tories.

    Kennedy Forever likes this.
  18. Sunstone77 Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2018
    Maybe Green Mile was a poor choice. It just happened to be the first prison story of Kings I could think of. Shawshank would be a better basis, with all the horrid abuses of the prison staff turned up to eleven
  19. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    I think the ITTL version of the Shawshank Redemption would be different in one way: it would end with the corrupt warden walking away clean and Andy either dying or just remaining the warden's tool.


    One cultural legacy of The Decade of Tears might be the termination of the Hollywood Ending. The Hollywood Ending, in which heroism is rewarded and villainy is defeated, is a product of the belief in American exceptionalism.

    American exceptionalism ITTL has been murdered and buried in the deep in the ground. America was first fucked over by a bunch of plutocrats and hypernationalists who replaced democracy with corporate fascism. Those plutocrats backed a Christian fascism movement that proceeded to ethnically cleanse and nuke huge swaths of the US, destroying what little remained of the US.

    As Americans rebuild, they might look upon the Hollywood Ending as a naïve fantasy at best, and a saccharine mask for what was an obviously depraved society. Because Americans ITTL have suffered loss that can never be fully repaired.
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