The [Bush] 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.''
This passage speaks to the heart of the Bush/Republican ability to hoodwink the American people. While John Kerry published position after position and floundered from one message to another and while progressive bloggers, activists, the netroots, the Congressional Black Caucus and others decried and deconstructed each and every Bush/Republican policy/lie in great detail, our Faith-based Government chugged along growing ever more bold and the public seemingly ever more oblivious to their crimes.
By calling them "faith-based" I am not necessarily referring to religion here. I am referring both to their ability to gain the public's faith and their ability to successfully ignore, distort and lie in the face of reality.
The Bush Administration is a Presidency that had it's start in the smearing of all opponents and the fixing of elections. It gained credibility by capitalizing on the fears (justified and unjustified) of the American People. It thrived on a web of distortions and lies backed by it's own network house organ (Fox News), the echo-chamber of Conservative talk radio, and religious groups and big corporations with their own agendas.
It was aided and abetted by the mainstream media who does not like to make waves for their advertisers and by a public who both hates and ignores "politics" and "the Government."
As long as the majority of the people felt reasonably assured that they would not be literally blown up as they contended with their own day-to-day struggles, they were willing to believe in Bush. The more partisan among them made a fetish of the man as a Great and Moral Leader who would bring the country back to some mythical time when women didn't work, all worshipped at the same altar, and everyone knew their place.
In their view, Bush/Republicans were the Saviors of America and in Walmart We Trust. (They can still be heard calling into C-SPAN each morning bleating that because Valerie "Flame" drove to work every day to the CIA in Langley, Virginia she could not possibly have been an undercover operative and that Joseph Wilson outed his wife in the pages of Vanity Fair.)
And thus it would still be if the damn had not literally broken. Katrina was a cold slap in the face of reality. The illusion that Bush was not just competent, but the only one who could protect them, drowned along with the residents of the Sixth Ward of New Orleans. The reality that race and class still play a part in not only who thrives but who survives in America could not be ignored.
That the gross negligence in the Bush handling of Katrina came along on the heels of record gas prices and a rising death toll in Iraq only made the fall back to Earth faster and harder. Eyes which had been sleepy were opened. Questions that could not even be formed before Katrina were now being asked in public...even on Fox News by the likes of Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera.
And Bush's magic fixer, Karl Rove, was up to his neck in his own problems. While still not indicted, there's no reason to assume that he's safe from prosecution at this point. And so the Bush Administration continues to stumble over even the little things -- like manufactured PR events -- the kinds of things that they used to excel at.
But now, the scales have finally fallen off the eyes of the public and what they see is a corrupt, incompetent administration rife with cronyism and liars. An administration that can no better conduct a war in Iraq than they could save flood-stricken citizens here. An administration that has lost the support of even some of the fiercest hawks for and in the Pentagon.
With support for the Iraq War not only slipping among the American people but among Congress itself, Bush felt compelled yet one more time to give a "MAJOR SPEECH" on the war today. The speech came with it's very own "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" which was billed as "A PLAN" but, as The Washington Note asserts:
George Bush's speech this morning is almost entirely a counter-point response to James Fallows' important cover story in the Atlantic Monthly this month. Bush seems to be asserting that Fallows' assessment and math are wrong.and about which Think Progress notes:
I'll be commenting on this later, but my sense is that Fallows went into extensive, nearly tedious detail about the thus far failed effort to train and "stand up" Iraqi security forces. The President's assertions about the great successes training Iraqi forces do not stand up to scrutiny.
The problem is, it’s not a new strategy for success in Iraq; it’s a public relations document. The strategy describes what has transpired in Iraq to date as a resounding success and stubbornly refuses to establish any standards for accountability. It dismisses serious problems such as the dramatic increase in bombings as “metrics that the terrorists and insurgents want the world to use.” Americans understand it’s time for a new course in Iraq. Unfortunately, this document is little more than an extended justification for a President “determined to stay his course.”Moreover, it would seem highly doubtful that "THE PLAN" was drawn up in 2003.
But back to the speech itself. In it, Bush said:
This is an enemy without conscience, and they cannot be appeased. If we're not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle. They would be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders. By fighting these terrorists in Iraq, Americans in uniform are defeating a direct threat to the American people.But this begs the question:
Victory will come when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can provide for the safety of their own citizens, and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot new attacks on our nation.
Who is the enemy? Who are the "terrorists" and "Saddamists"?
When eighty-two percent of Iraqis polled have said that they are "strongly opposed" to the presence of the troops and forty-five percent of Iraqis believe attacks on U.S. and British troops are justified, just who is the enemy?
When Iraqi leaders themselves demand a timetable for the withdrawal of coalition troops from Iraq just what does "staying the course" mean and what good is "A PLAN" without any sort of timetable?
When the vast majority of those who are fighting us in Iraq are Iraqi citizens, just who and what are we fighting for?
Thus we return to the beginning of this post. We can only draw the conclusion that George W. Bush is still living outside of the "reality-based community." The rest of us who live in the real world -- the majority of the American public, the majority of the Iraqi public, the majority of the world community -- continue to shake our heads in disbelief at Bush's continuing "faith" that he can create his own reality and at the mounting disasters that result from that belief.