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WTF?

This video was nothing, and just because everyone else is quoting this is no reason I shouldn't. Ron Suskind was talking to a senior White House aide:

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.''
Compare to The Matrix:
Boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Boy: Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
But that was a movie.

October 16, 2004 | Permalink

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Sweet Blessings, a new Christian-based online shop featuring cookie bouquets, candy bouquets and gift baskets, opens with a campaign to donate a portion of all profits to Habitat For Humanity. The devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, while not a... [Read More]

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» Gift Basket from Tom Jamme's Blog
Sweet Blessings, a new Christian-based online shop featuring cookie bouquets, candy bouquets and gift baskets, opens with a campaign to donate a portion of all profits to Habitat For Humanity. The devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, while not a... [Read More]

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Comments

"Proud Member of the Reality-Based Community"

I'm not laughing out loud, but I am grinning very broadly.

Posted by: Petey | Oct 16, 2004 8:50:57 PM

It may be a movie, but I've seen too many quotes from religious right voters that sound like "He's THE ONE."

Posted by: T: Central | Oct 16, 2004 8:51:36 PM

That article was a killer. One of the best on Bush I have ever read. There is a ton in there to reflect on.

The quoted conversation reflects a post-modernism I don't understand, or the reincarnation of Josef Goebbels. I'm serious. "We create reality by brute force of will." Reeks of the will-to-power.
The President is channeling Jesus, the secular neo-cons beneath have to re-interpret his prophecy somehow.

I am getting seriously weirded, don't think I can take four more years.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Oct 16, 2004 9:21:11 PM

I read the NY Times Mag article this morning. Scary stuff.

Later, shopping in Manhattan, I spotted Senator Joe Biden shopping in Crate & Barrel on 59th. (Weird, huh?) I wanted to thank him for going on record for the article, but he didn't look in the chatting mood.

Huzzahs to him and Levin, though. I know the WH staff are in fear of their lives, etc, but they're still a bunch of spineless toads.

Posted by: epoh | Oct 16, 2004 9:21:45 PM

I know fascism has become a complicated and overused word, and we try to tighten the definition so it doesn't become a cheap and pointless insult. And I have seen Japanese flower-arranging and tea-ceremony called fascistic.

But I remember forty years ago Robert E. Howard being called "fascistic". Not really "Might makes Right" I don't know what that means.

But over and over in Howard's fantasy stories the wizards and conjurers would weave their intricate spells, and Conan would say "Duh" and hit them dead with his great big hammer.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Oct 16, 2004 9:31:08 PM

Bob,

Is Conan reality knocking down Bush's fantasies or is Conan Bush knocking down wonks?

Posted by: WeSaferThemHealthier | Oct 16, 2004 9:37:22 PM

It's real simple, folks.
George Bush, Jr. has said:

"Read my lips. No new draft."

Any questions?
Good. Now pass it on.

Posted by: Libby Sosume | Oct 16, 2004 9:53:39 PM

How could you not quote Orwell with this?

Posted by: taak | Oct 16, 2004 10:03:49 PM

I'm really curious who that aide was. Michael Gerson?

In any case, this article frightens me into new heights of shrillness. I see an administration that, in a second term in office, would do a lot of thngs to drive people like me out of the country.

Posted by: praktike | Oct 16, 2004 10:16:35 PM

"I'm really curious who that aide was. Michael Gerson?"

I seriously doubt it's Gerson.

But if I'm wrong and it is Gerson, it's actually scarier if it's the narrative guy, rather than if it's a policy guy or politico, as I'd expect.

Posted by: Petey | Oct 16, 2004 10:24:50 PM

At least we know they'll self-destruct, not that that wasn't obvious anyway.

No, they're not fascists, not yet. But the Operation-Barbarossa quality of their thinking is not a coincidence. It's up to passive, pedestrian-judicious -blecchhh- weenies to worry about winter resupply of the army or how the hell you're going to transform Iraq.

Posted by: Sean Flaherty | Oct 16, 2004 10:28:15 PM

NO, Matthew - you picked the wrong quote.

The soul of this new machine is the support of millions of likely voters, who judge his worth based on intangibles -- character, certainty, fortitude and godliness -- rather than on what he says or does. The deeper the darkness, the brighter this filament of faith glows, a faith in the president and the just God who affirms him.
...
"Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times."

This is why the pledge battle is a battle worth fighting. Because, while you're debating intellectual solutions, and comparing editorials to movies, these misguided ritualistic American jihadist lame brains are taking over the country.

Posted by: poputonian | Oct 16, 2004 10:29:41 PM

Why was this covered in this way. The president is not appointed by god. He does not listen to god. This is complete BS and actually demeening to christians. If all Team Bush can do is to claim that they think he is the messiah than its time to get them out of office. And quickly. How can anybody seriously back a candidate who's people claim to create new realities while listening to god. God created only one reality and we live in it. Post modernism does not work with Christianity. Christians are fundamentally opposed to Post Modernism.

Look either the press stands up and really exposes this guy for the fruad he is or we look toward total anarchy in the next 4 years. How can ANYBODY in the press treat these maniacs with kid gloves? This is sick sick stuff. I am absolutely revolted that the NYT would even attempt to press off these lunatic ravings as credible.

Bush must be removed. How many Cheney crocodile tears do we need to swallow?

Posted by: patience | Oct 16, 2004 10:33:56 PM

Giblets should reconsider his dismissal of these people. They are Ultracrats ready to be born.

Posted by: Sean Flaherty | Oct 16, 2004 10:36:09 PM

Well, this all sounds very familiar, doesn't it?

It's the fuehrer principle in action. The fuehrer, one will recall, was thought to have a unique, mystical capacity to express the will of the nation, a sacred nation created by God.

Because the fuehrer has this unique and privileged connection with ultimate reality, his authority goes beyond the legal and constitutional authorities that are created by mere human beings. The fuehrer is the reich and the reich is the fuerher.

Because they believe he follows God's law, a law inscribed in his heart (or gut), Bush's most loyal followers are intoxicated with the sense of freedom and transcendance that comes from transgressing the boundaries established by mere mortals. They will say anything, tell any lies, engage in any amount of deviousness, secrecy, illegality, violence and manipulation they believe necessary to serve the fuehrer's cause.

The article is fascinating very revealing, but at times far too deferential and subtle:

"The democrat Biden and the Republican Bartlett are trying to make sense of the same thing -- a president who has been an extraordinary blend of forcefulness and inscrutability, opacity and action."

Suskind describes this situation as though there are two legitimate and equally compelling sides to the issue. What are they? The rational side and the psychopathic side? The side of democracy and republican government and the side of megalomaniacal charismatic authoritarianism? And Suskind in effect lends weight to these mystical authoritarians by himself suggesting that Bush is some sort of awe-inspiring and "inscrutable" force of nature.

He's not. He's just a typical power-intoxicated idiot. And his worshippers are feeble-minded weaklings and suckers, easily impressed and easily mesmerized by a two-bit magic show.

One suspects Suskind is afraid of offending the religious sensibilities of some of his readers. But it's time for mainstream writers to stop pulling their punches, and granting respect where none is merited. Bush is an extremely dangerous man. He is obviously an unbalanced fool, a superstitious maniac who is both emotionally and intellectually unfit for the job he holds. His loyalists have contempt for democracy, the courts, open society and even reason. They believe they are carried on a supernatural wave of historical destiny. They are sick, delusional fanatics and if not stopped by the voters will lead the country down the same fearsome path travelled by other nations who experienced similar episodes of irrational, chauvinistic enthusiasm.

It can happen here.

Posted by: Dan Kervick | Oct 16, 2004 11:55:36 PM

Am I the only person who thinks this is faked? The audio sounds too forced ... though I don't know how anyone would have built the matching video. But you can do a lot with computers these days ...

Posted by: niq | Oct 16, 2004 11:57:19 PM

Where is the real Matthew? Passing up a philosophical argument like this?

You do realize that in many ways that Presidential advisor is right? right?

We live on a planet where about 50% of the population is driven not by what's rational but by their beliefs. They take actions based on their beliefs that affect us. They can be provably, demonstrably wrong but their "faith" guided actions will affect our "reality" nonetheless.

And peoples actions do "make" reality. (yes, most of the time faith-only-based-action makes for a much poorer reality than we PMRBC's would like, but what can we do to stop it? Kill all the faithful? No, so we need an effective way to deal with it. Sadly faith is too often impervious to facts and reason - OUR best tools)

Like all tools, faith based action can be wielded wisely or poorly and the Bush administration is the gold standard of "poorly wielded faith"

------------------------
Ty Webb:
We have to win this hole.

Danny Noonan:
I kinda thought winning wasn't important.

Ty Webb:
Me winning isn't, you do.

Danny Noonan:
Great grammer.

Ty Webb:
Danny, see your future, be your future. May, make, make it, make it. Make your future Danny. I'm, I'm a veg', Danny.

Posted by: James | Oct 16, 2004 11:59:18 PM

Personally, my issue with this is not the fact that they believe that by acting, they can create and transform reality. There is a large degree of truth to that statement. My concern is that this is set up in opposition to a empirical, fact based system of decision making. That's where the scary, messianic aspect of it comes in.

Posted by: Glenn | Oct 17, 2004 2:07:29 AM

"Proud Member of the Reality-Based Community" = The new "Fair and balanced". Spread it people.

Posted by: WeSaferThemHealthier | Oct 17, 2004 2:22:39 AM

What is really sad is that that article will have precisely zero impact on the election.

The pure horror encapsulated in that article is not something the average American voter is going to grasp (hell, most people won't read 100 words, what chance is there of them reading 5000?).

Something completely irrelevant, like Bush buggering Rove, would destroy them. The display of cult-like detachment from reality and complete corruption by power in this article won't do anything.

Some times I think the republic is not worth saving any more.

Posted by: Timothy Klein | Oct 17, 2004 2:46:00 AM

James,

While each person attempts to assert his will whenever we do anything in this life, it is ludacris to claim simultaneously that you are a CHRISTIAN and that your will is divine because the only reality that exists is the one YOU impose on those around you. These are not compatible ideas. Infact to attmpt to try to rationalize them into compatibility is self-deluding at best, if not outright evil. Hence my anger at the NYT for treating these statements from Team Bush with any degree of credibility.

Religion 101:
As a christian you believe Jesus to be the divine son of the Almighty God, who died on the cross for our sins, and was ressurected 3 days later, so that we might be made acceptable to that same almighty god. Jesus at no time attempted to impose his will on the world, rather even in his greatest time of need in the Garden of Gethsemane
before he was taken to trial, beaten and crucified, he sought god's will through prayer, and resisted HIS OWN DESIRE TO AVOID THE PRICE HE WAS BORN TO PAY.

From Matthew 26

36Then Jesus brought them to an olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, "Sit here while I go on ahead to pray." 37He took Peter and Zebedee's two sons, James and John, and he began to be filled with anguish and deep distress. 38He told them, "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me."
39He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground, praying, "My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine." 40Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, "Couldn't you stay awake and watch with me even one hour? 41Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak!"
42Again he left them and prayed, "My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away until I drink it, your will be done."

Second Jesus believed that he personally must do ALL THINGS righteously. This is why he insisted John the baptist, baptise him, though he himself was the savior about whom John was preaching and preparing his followers for.

From Mathew 3

13Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. 14But John didn't want to baptize him. "I am the one who needs to be baptized by you," he said, "so why are you coming to me?"
15But Jesus said, "It must be done, because we must do everything that is right.[6] " So then John baptized him.
16After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him."

Clearly Bush's actions in going to war were not righteous, and were not even presented with propriety. For his advisors to claim that Bush's Christianity permits him to lie outright about anything and everything, because of Bush's special relationship with the Almighty, is to attmept to sanctify blasphemy. As for creating realities for or imposing on others, this is so deeply antithetical to Jesus 'sexample of submission to God's will as to be heretical.

For a reporter from the NYT to portray any person, white house advisor or not, who actively claims the BS in the article with a straight face, as anything more credible than a total crack pot is beyond pale. This is not funny, its sick.

Timothy,

This article is a watershed, in its presentation of the naked realities of the religion of this administration. It is both undeniable and devestating.

Posted by: patience | Oct 17, 2004 3:11:09 AM

TK, I'm not so sure. I think this could be damaging. At the very least, I sense this is spreading beyond the NYTimes. It won't have an effect on Bush's Kool Aid drinking 40%, but I think perhaps this will cause some in the middle 10% to view Bush differently. I mean right now they basically think Bush is an alright guy, even if he's fucked some things up. This makes Bush look like a zealot, borderline lunatic in some ways. "We aren't a part of the reality-based world?" That is just a scary, scary passage.

Posted by: Ben P | Oct 17, 2004 3:13:21 AM

"Suskind describes this situation as though there are two legitimate and equally compelling sides to the issue ... One suspects Suskind is afraid of offending the religious sensibilities of some of his readers."

OK. I finally understand your major malfunction, Dan Kervick: a complete lack of reading comprehension.

Posted by: Petey | Oct 17, 2004 4:03:31 AM

Patience and Ben P, I hope you two are right. Reading that article, as the Bush-apologist rationalizations began to spring to mind, I almost wanted to believe them.

It is terrifying to think this article represents reality. The people in the White House sound like the leaders of some totalitarian regime that was America's arch-enemy, not the leaders of USA. If a true-blue, Bush-thwarting Democrat like me wants it to be false, I can only imagine how overpowering the urge will be for independents to just dismiss the article, because accepting even half of it as true is too terrifying.

Posted by: Timothy Klein | Oct 17, 2004 4:44:37 AM

Bush simply will not turn over power peacefully.

Posted by: Kimmitt | Oct 17, 2004 5:30:26 AM

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