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The Widening Reality-Based Community

One of the odd advantages that George W. Bush's nonsensical manner of running the government has provided is that it opens his administration up to so many different lines of attack that it's very hard for the anti-Bush forces to form a coherent critique. You've got Jim Henley and Marshall Whittman who agree about approximately nothing, joined in their opposition to Bush. I don't agree with either of them about much, but I certainly agree about the opposition to Bush thing. But now that shrill, Bush-hating libertarian Gene Healy is suggesting "Reality-Based Community" T-shirts it appears that the anti-Bush coalition may at last, thanks to an anonymous White House advisor, have found a unifying theme. We are not merely the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill, which may turn off some of your more mild-mannered Bush opponents, we are, proud members of the Reality-Based Community. On the other side is, well, the other guys.

October 18, 2004 | Permalink

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» Reality Based Community from The Fly Bottle
I, too, am a proud member of the reality-based community! That said, it strikes me as fairly unlikely that Suskind's source was really positing a kind of power-based ontological constructivism. Maybe, maybe. I have no doubt that much faith-based nutjob... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 9:44:16 AM

» The Reality-Based Community from War Blogging
"He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence", Bruce Bartlett, a Reagan advisor and former treasury off... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 9:46:55 AM

» Reality-Based Community for Kerry! from Republicans Anonymous
Raed Matthew Yglesias' post HERE. Why "reality-based community?" Read Ron Susskind's full article HERE if you don't want to be able to sleep at night, or consider this quote: In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire th... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 10:36:53 AM

» Do You Know The Way To Reality? from Dohiyi Mir
Some days I wish I weren't a member of the Reality-Based Community. Then I wouldn't need to be teaching in Marlboro, MA. But I guess it's better than the alternative... ntodd [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 10:39:25 AM

» Count me in from War Liberal
Matthew Yglesias: The Widening Reality-Based Community The movement has a name. Gene Healy is suggesting "Reality-Based Community" T-shirts it appears that the anti-Bush coalition may at last, thanks to an anonymous White House advisor, have found a un... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 10:52:23 AM

» Reality-Based Reality from Bark Bark Woof Woof
A lot of people are picking up on the "reality-based" vs. "faith-based" community as depicted in Ron Suskind's piece. In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communication... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 11:29:14 AM

» Proud member of the Reality-Based Community from B and B
From political writer Matthew Yglesias: One of the odd advantages that George W. Bush's nonsensical manner of running the government has provided is that it opens his administration up to so many different lines of attack that it's very hard [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 11:32:36 AM

» Resolutely, Firmly, Unmovably Certain from Not Geniuses
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Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 12:08:01 PM

» I Live In The "Reality-Based Community" from Mischievous Ramblings
Ron Suskind in the NYT. In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the ... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 12:59:41 PM

» Proud Member of the Reality-based community! from journal
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Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 1:08:40 PM

» Reality-Based Communitarians from Preposterous Universe
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Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 1:09:42 PM

» one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them from crayz.dyndns.org
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» To Be Provided from FoolBlog
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Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 2:24:51 PM

» Faith Based Government from Three Guys
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Tracked on Oct 18, 2004 3:27:03 PM

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» A proud NON-member of the Reality-Based Community from The Attorney General's Blog
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Tracked on Oct 19, 2004 12:25:14 AM

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» Reality-based from esoterically.net
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» Having faith from yeah whatever
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» http://ceaseless-barrage.blogspot.com from
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» The Reality Based Community from The Liberal Reality Based Community
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» Oh, All Right Already! from Rook's Rant
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Tracked on Jan 4, 2005 8:23:01 PM

» Oh, All Right Already! from Rook's Rant
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» NEW YORK TIMES: GIMME THAT OLDE TYME JIHAD from Benedict
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» Having Faith in the Reality-Based Community from Smash Monster
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Comments

But in a profound way they did create their own reality. There are the 1100 dead soldiers, the tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, the many, MANY wounded on both sides...

Posted by: ScrewyRabbit | Oct 18, 2004 12:45:21 AM

I love the way the Bushists are just handing this to us... "You guys live in the world of REALITY!!!"

Posted by: grytpype | Oct 18, 2004 12:55:08 AM

I agree with your Foucaldian take on the administration, but they really fucked up if this "reality based" quote in the Suskind article is solid. I haven't read it, but as a DC regulatory lawyer, it sounds much like the arbitrary and capricious standard for judicial review of federal agency decisions. When you're failing the laugh test you know who've really fucked up.

Posted by: fnook | Oct 18, 2004 1:08:49 AM

"Reality based" - that's nice as a theme.

How does this work exactly? Forgive me, I'm new to this concept...

Posted by: Drew - Dallas, TX | Oct 18, 2004 1:43:56 AM

Well Drew, first you read Suskind's article in the NYT. Here's the relevant quote:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend - but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me 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."

And after that sinks in, you start thinking about the relative fucked up-ness of Bush's faith-based foreign policy, and the equally fucked up-ness of his supporters blind faith in his mis-administration.

Posted by: ScrewyRabbit | Oct 18, 2004 2:07:47 AM

The quote is so good I fear it's too good to be true.

Posted by: Vance Maverick | Oct 18, 2004 2:13:54 AM

Sorry ScrewyRabbit, but I don't have a subscription or meaningless membership to the NYT site. So, with that in mind, why didn't you copy and paste the entire thing? I thought you were more concerned about how he looked on camera, or facing impromptu questions?

What foreign policy alternative are you aligning this to? I think that you need to loose the f-words and speak English - please.

Posted by: Drew - Dallas, TX | Oct 18, 2004 2:17:31 AM

Drew, it's a really long article, so forgive me while I don't copy and paste the entire thing. Plus that's probably in violation of some copyright law.

Honestly, I'm not one of those who cares what Bush looks like on TV. I care about the worst foreign policy disaster in our lifetimes.

Technically, the f-word is English, but I'll refrain for you sensitive types.

Posted by: ScrewyRabbit | Oct 18, 2004 2:26:05 AM

Thanks Screwster, but again, what policy would make sense in your mind?

Posted by: Drew - Dallas, TX | Oct 18, 2004 2:28:55 AM

Thanks for promoting the new theme- I may dislike Bush somewhat less than the next guy, but I'm not planning to vote for him either.

But this whole shrill thing was getting really annoying.

Posted by: Bob McGrew | Oct 18, 2004 2:48:45 AM

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

Sounds a lot like:

philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change it.

Posted by: JS | Oct 18, 2004 3:32:54 AM

The resident troll demonstrates the limits of the reality-based community by whining, no matter how much is explained, that he still doesn't understand.

In contrast, faith-based communities have no maintenance costs, just the initial sign-up fee.

Posted by: bad Jim | Oct 18, 2004 3:33:29 AM

For the time being, this is a web-safe link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/magazine/17BUSH.html?ex=1255665600&en=890a96189e162076&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland

Matthew:

This is why we pay you the big bucks.

Posted by: Joseph Groton | Oct 18, 2004 4:22:19 AM

First a sceptic relation to science and its usefulness compared to, say, religion as a means of understanding the world, then doubts about the law and rights as absolute concepts, then the adoption of the thesis that reality is something man-made altogether.

Seems that behind the moniker "Compassionate Conservatism" hid the post-modern phalanx of the Republican party.

Posted by: G. Svenson | Oct 18, 2004 6:02:25 AM

what js said above. Triumph of the Will was about creating facts on the ground.

it's a question of hubris.

the invasion of iraq was supposed to create a new reality: pro-western gov't, a thankful iraqi populace, that would replace the bs that moved the country to attack.

the theft of the 2000 fl election was also an Act of Will.

Posted by: Troy | Oct 18, 2004 8:31:40 AM

>Sorry ScrewyRabbit, but I don't have a subscription or meaningless membership to the NYT site. So, with that in mind, why didn't you copy and paste the entire thing?

Um, so you are advocating that he commit copyright infringement?

Posted by: raj | Oct 18, 2004 9:07:12 AM

I have noticed:

Bushites are at war with Reality!
Bushites are at war with Truth!

Their entire platform of lies and distortions is a Weapon of Mass Deception.

Sane people life in reality and deal with Truth.

Bushites do not.
It isn't about partisanship, it is about sanity!

Posted by: Falafel Billy | Oct 18, 2004 9:30:00 AM

Living in small city, I drive and use my car's rear window for homemade bumper stickers that can change every few days.

Past favorites include:
"Re-defeat da
Presi-dunce"

and

GOP Sinners:
Rush Bennett O'Reilly
Drugs Gambling Sex

Now this "reality based community" has inspired a new one...
"Face Reality
Fire Bush"

Thank you anonymous high level White House administration source..

Posted by: daver9 | Oct 18, 2004 9:45:05 AM

Drew: In your 2:17AM post, you asked ScrewyRabbit to "loose the f-words...." That would mean you want him to use it more! Did you actually mean "lose," as in "Please stop using the f-word"?

Just for clarity, and you're not alone. I've noticed increasing use of "loose" when commenters mean "lose". Easy enough typo.

Posted by: jawbone | Oct 18, 2004 9:47:00 AM

It's not always easy, but I try to stay reality based myself. After reading the Susskind article, which seemed to be saying that instead of reality, Bush thinks he is being guided directly by God His Own Self, I asked some one who is more of a christian than I am to read it and comment. I'm not up on this stuff, but she commented that christians used to have a word for what Bush is claiming: Blasphemy--disrespect or irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable, esp. God.
Sounds like that about covers it to me.

Posted by: JuanBongo | Oct 18, 2004 9:52:23 AM

I've mentioned this in the past. This is what the late Herblock, in his book about Nixon, called "the multiple bad things advantage." Nixon haters hated SO MANY THINGS about Nixon that they came across as slavering, unreasoning beasts with motivated by an inexplicable animus.

That has been happening with George W. Bush. He is SUCH an utter disaster, with no positive accomplishments of any kind, that it's impossible for his opponents to focus on any one particular catastrophe. Thus, we tend to dissipate our justifiable anger by striking out in all directions at once. It's easy for the wingnuts to caricature us as irrationally angry liberals rather than have to deal with our actual criticisms.

But what can we do? Faced with so many horrible decisions and actions, we kind of have to attack on all fronts at once. George W. Bush is so incompetent, he is protected by his very inability to achieve anything.

Posted by: Tom Beck | Oct 18, 2004 10:00:09 AM

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

Sounds a lot like:

philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to
change it.

Actually, it sounds a lot more like:

"How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?"

"Four"

"And if the Party says that it is not four but five -- then how many?"

"Four."

The word ended in a gasp of pain. The needle had shot up to fifty-five... (snip) ..."Sometimes, Winston, Sometimes they are five. Somtimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane."

-- The prophet Orwell --

Posted by: kenlac | Oct 18, 2004 10:00:45 AM

Personally I hope that this quote helps in re-beating Bush, but professionally and academically I am compelled to point out that the theory espoused is neither new nor particularly radical. It is the standard fare at most highly-competitive organizations and is taught in business schools, the Marine Corps, and similar organizations.

And I also have to observe that in the business setting it is not necessarily wrong. Businesses larger than 20 employees are beset with people who sit around analyzing things and coming up with reasons why objective x can't be accomplished. Again, IN THE BUSINESS SETTING, objective x usually _can_ be accomplished if someone sufficiently motivated puts their mind to it - thus changing the "reality" of the situation.

Now, in the non-business world, where there are other actors just as motivated as our mythical finger-pointer, and they carry guns...

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | Oct 18, 2004 10:20:01 AM

"Thanks Screwster, but again, what policy would make sense in your mind?"

Well, Drew (BTW, are you the fat, fundamentalist Drew in Dallas who plays board games?), for starters, how about one informed by historical, political, and cultural reality instead of one pulled out of the president's a**? Any government that takes pride in ignoring reality when planning its policies has no business in power. Is that so hard to comprehend?

Posted by: jjcomet | Oct 18, 2004 10:27:50 AM

I'm a proud member of the fantasy-based community.

Posted by: George W. Bush | Oct 18, 2004 10:27:52 AM

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