Thursday, May 12, 2005

The growing irrelevance of truth

Today I flipped from NPR to Air America (NPR is in the midst of one of those passive-aggressive pledge drives, and after their whole "Popeity pope pope pope!" extravaganza a few weeks back, my patience with their content has diminished considerably) just in time to hear a guy saying something to this effect:

It's not as though people have not been showing him the facts, because they have. It is just that if the facts don't mesh with policy, they don't come into play."

For a moment I wondered why Air America was talking about Michael Jackson.

But no, they were talking about Bush's environmental policy.

But this is a troubling thought, one that has come up again and again in the many questionable decisions this president has made. Facts are sought out, presented and subsequently ignored. There is nothing really surprising about this- facts abound to dispute Biblical doctrines, and yet people like Bush and his voters are perfectly willing to take that leap of faith to believe what is completely unfounded. I would argue that taking that leap is relatively harmless in private life. If someone wishes to believe that the world was created in 7 days, I suppose I don't have a problem with that. But as public policy, it is increasingly destructive. If the "theory" that the world was created in 7 days begins to be taught in public schools as truth, that is a problem.

The confusion of facts and doctrine is somewhat of a hallmark of this administration, and has become a trend among those who see themselves as "empowered" by Bush's reelection. This was covered well in Suskind's "Without a Doubt" piece in the context of Bush's decisionmaking process, but I think that a subtler form of the trend is manifesting itself in the electorate, one that deserves closer examination.

Try it- present any Bush voter you know with something that is known to be true: there were NO WMDs in Iraq. This is now an indisputable truth. They will find a way to deny it. Tell them that the human factor in global warming can no longer be denied- site all the studies you want. They will find a way to deny it. Tell them that DeLay is a corrupt liar. Tell them that the nation was built on secular terms. Tell them that Bush flew members of the Bin Laden family out of the country during the no-fly period immediately following the 9/11 attacks. Tell them that Iraq was in the works well before 9/11. All truths. But somehow, all deniable.

Karl Rove and his Ministry of Truth have somehow made it possible to deny everything. Without really saying so, they convinced some 64% of Americans that Saddam was behind 9/11.

But there is some hope- there are some things the American people just won't buy, no matter how much of their money Bush uses to try and sell it. The American People don't want to see the filibuster go away. They have the sense to know that the "Social Security Reform" idea is a crock and a giveaway to corporate interests. There is some hope . . . but the fact remains that there are some people who are so entrenched in the dogma of this administration that the sky is down and the grass is pink if Bush says so.

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