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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Creating reality:

From Ron Suskinds' New York Times Magazine article Without a Doubt (17 Oct 2004):
[A White House aide said] "... when we act, we create our own reality."
Josh Marshall writes about the USA purge: (excerpts, emp add)
The president fired US Attorneys ... who didn't harass Democrats with bogus voter fraud prosecutions. [T]he evidence is clear, overwhelming and undeniable.

[W]e know directly from the accounts of the players involved ... that these were cases in which Republican operatives and activists complained to the White House and Republican members of Congress that certain US Attorneys weren't convening grand juries or issuing indictments against Democrats, even though these were cases where all the available evidence suggests there was no wrongdoing prosecuted.

At most points in our history the idea that an Attorney General could stay in office after having overseen such an effort would be unthinkable. The most telling part of this episode is that they're not even really denying the wrongdoing.
The "reality" the White House was trying to create was the "reality" that "Democrats are corrupt".

Marshall notes, correctly, that "It's a direct attack on the rule of law", which it is. But it's also another example of using (or pressuring) government agencies to create a reality that benefits Bush, Republicans, or whatever is on the administration's agenda. It's yet another in a series of politics overriding professional judgement. Don't forget:
  • The pressure to override the professional judement of the CIA regarding Iraq's weapons capabilities and al Qaeda links.
  • The pressure to override the professional judgement of the Pentagon regarding the number of troops needed to secure Iraq, post-invasion.
  • The pressure to override the professional judgement of climate and environment experts at NASA and the EPA.
And so on.

It's all image and message. And they've been pretty good at it (especially with players like Fox News Channel helping out). But with anything that's not reality-based, it eventually bumps up against the real world, and then it's on to Stage Two: claiming it's all politics and partisanship.

At this point in this adminstration's second term, it's hard to see how this particular US Attorney story is going to change anybody's mind about Bush. It's strictly a team sport now. You're with Bush's team or you aren't (and not being on Bush' team doesn't mean you're necessarily pro-Democrat). Is the USA scandal going to shave five percentage points off of Bush's approval numbers? It might, but probably won't.

Expect to learn more this year, as the Congressional committees probe the workings of various executive branch agencies, of falsehoods peddled and professional judgement ignored. But don't expect it to translate into further public alienation from Bush - that's already happened (30-ish percent approval). However, you might - just might - see a change in attitude by Big Name Pundits and by Big Media. That would be nice to see.


2 comments

Personally, the important thing is to stop the needless and heedless murder we are perpetrating around the world as soon as possible. I couldn't care less when Timmeh and the crew get around to abandoning George W.

The USA and all of us in it have hell to pay. We begin by impeaching the Bush/Cheney junta and then turning them over to an international war crimes tribunal.

By Blogger gmoke, at 3/22/2007 9:21 PM  

If it wasn't for all the other dumb decisions and non-decisions of George W and his Administration going back to Jan. 2001, this purge would be merely a tempest in a teapot; but all the prior stupidity places this teapot under a dome of incompetency.

By Blogger Shag from Brookline, at 3/23/2007 3:20 AM  

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