Sunday, December 24, 2006

Fancy Words For Wishful Thinking

Jay Rosen , a smart fellow, who teaches journalism at NYU and Blogs has an article that takes quite a bit of time to trace what can best be described as "reality creation through action." The idea is that by acting you change current reality, the previous methods involving empiricism, or the study of facts and trends to determine policy. The Bush administration was pretty proud of their new strategy.

There are a lot of words used in this in depth analysis to describe this policy versus "reality based" policies that the predecessors had used and to describe the outcomes; I'll give my "Cliff Notes" version using the term I used in the title, wishful thinking. This President and his sycophants engage in it on a regular basis, we were winning in Iraq because saying it made it true, we would be welcomed as liberators because we were there, New Orleans would be fine because we say so, Creationism is science because we say so, trickle down economics will work because we're doing it, the budget will work out because we're doing it. There it is, faith based politics, it'll work because we want it to. Screw history, screw science, screw the Constitution, this'll work because we're doing it. By the way, you're terrorist sympathizers because we say so and you're trying to undermine our reality we're making.

The upshot of wishful thinking is that you're always making it up as you go along, facts and historical trends just won't move on faith. Each time reality refuses to be congruent with the wish, a new action has to be taken to create that wish, all the while ignoring that pesky reality.

How did wishful thinking triumph over reality in government? One of the first checks to unreality is "nay-sayers," people who won't just go along. Taking a look at the Administration is illuminating, anybody dragging their heels was replaced and that wasn't many because this Administration was packed with sycophants from the start. Move over to Congress and things look even worse, these people went along because they were getting the benefits of years of majority status now augmented by Presidential partisanship. This mess only works if everybody gets along - by going along. The media? Between September 11 and the patriotism attacks and corporate benefits it was real easy to let these people go on their way. It also is possible that even media skeptics couldn't believe these idiots could be that wrong.

Has reality intruded? The media seems to have gotten some clue and belatedly started asking questions, still shying away from any appearance that they might be partisan. (per Snow vs Gregory partisan means asking a question and not backing up) The Democrats have control of Congress, having the nerve to kick butt is another question. The Administration shows no signs of including in its ranks any dissenting voices. The President still acts as though wanting something to be so and acting as though it were so will make is so. Wish in one hand, shit in the other and what have you got?


Jay said...

Just a note to tell you that I find your "'aw shucks, this is all very simple" and "why can't these pointy headed intellectuals speak plain English...?" poses to be really dumb, but only mildly offensive.

I don't write in jargon. I don't take 3,000 words to say what could be said in 300, and I don't think you have added to the conversation in this post. It could be classified as "fluff."

You didn't understand what you read, and that is why you think it's as simple as saying, "Bush engages in wishful thinking."

One has to try to explain how every single reality check in our political system was overridden in the march to war. "Bush engages in wishful thinking" (which is true) does not do that.


Chuck Butcher said...

Sorry, I've removed the offending sentences. I should have let this wait and re-read what I wrote, I believe I'd have ssen it was dumb.

Ed Bickford said...

From the cited NYT article "Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush" by Ron Suskind, published October 17, 2004:

"Machiavelli's oft-cited line about the adequacy of the perception of power prompts a question. Is the appearance of confidence as important as its possession? Can confidence -- true confidence -- be willed? Or must it be earned?

George W. Bush, clearly, is one of history's great confidence men. That is not meant in the huckster's sense, though many critics claim that on the war in Iraq, the economy and a few other matters he has engaged in some manner of bait-and-switch. No, I mean it in the sense that he's a believer in the power of confidence. At a time when constituents are uneasy and enemies are probing for weaknesses, he clearly feels that unflinching confidence has an almost mystical power. It can all but create reality."

Methinks Mr. Suskind doth protest too much about "W" not being a huckster. I think we are about where the marks in "The Music Man" were left when Professor Hill fled town (before he developed a human affection for River City) saying the purchased band uniforms were in shipment. If you need to "create reality" to satisfy your supporters, you are duping them, by definition. Those of philosophical bent may construct elaborate justifications and criticize us for not being able to follow their specious reasoning, but the fact remains that "W" eschews inconvenient truth in his pursuit of power and enrichment of his co-conspirators. He unleashed a phalanx of hucksters on Iraq, the corporate contractors. Emboldened by exemption from liability for any crime they might commit by executive order, they gleefully threw around duffel bags full of cash, spending most on security (fellow contractors) and left the Iraqis bereft. The uniforms are in shipment! We got trouble, right here in River City!