October 17, 2004

The Reality-Based Community

Ron Suskind has a profile of George W. Bush in today's NYT Magazine.

This profile, focusing on the decision-making style that originates in Bush's "faith" and "instincts," would be alarming and astonishing -- if it weren't so entirely unsurprising.

(It would also qualify as brave and iconoclastic journalism -- if it had been published in, say, 2001 or 2002. Or, hell, for that matter, anytime this year prior to the GOP Convention. This is in no way intended to smear Suskind, who is an outstanding journalist. No, the smear is of the NYT and the entire fucking mass media, who willingly went along with the Bush Character Crusade.)

In this profile, an anonymous White House aide (the Confidence Man's money is on Scooter Libby as the unnamed source) tells Suskind that:

... guys like [Suskind] were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''



The Errorism.

The Antistate.


(And, for this to be published within a week of Jacques Derrida's death? Priceless.)

Anyway, there's far too much juicy detail in the article to digest at once, and the Confidence Man feels a fit of high dudgeon coming on (yes, the profane spluttering above is merely the Confidence Man on medium dudgeon), so we will leave you with this inexplicable bit:

In the Oval Office in December 2002, the president met with a few
ranking senators and members of the House, both Republicans and
Democrats. In those days, there were high hopes that the United
States-sponsored ''road map'' for the Israelis and Palestinians would be
a pathway to peace, and the discussion that wintry day was, in part,
about countries providing peacekeeping forces in the region. The
problem, everyone agreed, was that a number of European countries, like
France and Germany, had armies that were not trusted by either the
Israelis or Palestinians. One congressman -- the Hungarian-born Tom
Lantos, a Democrat from California and the only Holocaust survivor in
Congress -- mentioned that the Scandinavian countries were viewed more
positively. Lantos went on to describe for the president how the Swedish
Army might be an ideal candidate to anchor a small peacekeeping force on
the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Sweden has a well-trained force of
about 25,000. The president looked at him appraisingly, several people
in the room recall.

''I don't know why you're talking about Sweden,'' Bush said. ''They're
the neutral one. They don't have an army.''

Lantos paused, a little shocked, and offered a gentlemanly reply: ''Mr.
President, you may have thought that I said Switzerland. They're the
ones that are historically neutral, without an army.'' Then Lantos
mentioned, in a gracious aside, that the Swiss do have a tough national
guard to protect the country in the event of invasion.

Bush held to his view. ''No, no, it's Sweden that has no army.''

The room went silent, until someone changed the subject.

A few weeks later, members of Congress and their spouses gathered with
administration officials and other dignitaries for the White House
Christmas party. The president saw Lantos and grabbed him by the
shoulder. ''You were right,'' he said, with bonhomie. ''Sweden does have
an army.''

Silly George! Didn't Karl teach you about the historical duplicity of the Swedes?

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