Sunday, June 08, 2008

McClellan's 'Matrix' moment

Bush's former press secretary has stumbled out of a White House that lets political rhetoric shape reality.
By Mark Dery
June 7, 2008

...Sure, sure, truth is the first casualty of war, and politics is just war with a smile and a starched collar. But the burgeoning genre of Bush administration tell-alls, of which McClellan's is only the latest, paints a portrait of a White House utterly unconcerned with facts yet fervently attentive to public opinion polls. It is a White House whose solution to every unhappy turn of events -- the Iraqi insurgency, Hurricane Katrina, a moribund economy -- is to treat it not as a real-world problem requiring a real-world solution but as a glitch in the Matrix, "a perception problem" to be handled with the Message of the Day and the Theme of the Week.

The deeper story here is the shift from the Enlightenment worldview, whose commitment to reasoned debate and empirical truth used to be the cornerstone of our little experiment in democracy, to the faith-based worldview of fundamentalism -- not just the fundamentalism of the religious right but fundamentalisms of every sort. The Iraq war came about, in large part, through a harmonic convergence of personal passions, political agendas and ideological crusades, all faith-based rather than fact-driven. Bush, McClellan tells us, is a man who "convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment" and who "to this day ... seems unbothered by the disconnect between the chief rationale for war and the driving motivation behind it, and unconcerned about how the case was packaged."

Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and other saber-rattling superhawks were on a Mission From God to democratize the Middle East, police the globe and, not incidentally, found a star-spangled imperium. And Karl Rove's psy-ops team, of which McClellan was a part, intuitively embraced the postmodern proposition that the story shapes the reality.

As an unnamed Bush aide put it in a 2004 New York Times Magazine article by Ron Suskind, there are those who still live in "what we call the reality-based community," people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality," and then there are those who understand that "that's not the way the world really works anymore. ... We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality."...[Open in new window]


Post a Comment

<< Home