If anyone but Bill Kristol had written this op ed in yesterday’s Washington Post I would have assumed it to be satire. But it’s Kristol. He’s not kidding.
In Kristol’s world, everything George W. Bush touches turns to gold. His entire administration has been a glorious success, and all of his policies have been wise and well implemented. Although the Iraq War is unpopular, invading Iraq was the right thing to do, and someday everyone will appreciate this. After all, if we hadn’t invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein would still be alive!
I’m not going to quote the thing; you can read it yourself, if you like. But I say that what Kristol writes is not spin. Spin is, IMO, the use of disingenuous language (short of out-and-out lying) to portray something or someone in a deceptive way. But I think Kristol really believes what he writes. I think if Kristol were attempting to spin he’d have included a few loose connections to reality, just to demonstrate he knows what reality is. This piece is so utterly untethered to anything recognizable in our common time-space continuum it can only be called hallucinatory.
In his op ed column today (which I hope to blog about later) Paul Krugman wonders how America’s health care industry and its political supporters get away with lying to Americans about the state of U.S. health care. And the answer is, they get away with it because mass media allows them to get away with it. If you have the money and connections, you can get yourself on a cable TV show and look at the camera and say anything. You can get on CNN and tell people that argyle socks will cure cancer, and the moderator/host will blink a couple of times and say, Really? I didn’t know that.
I think most Americans do, eventually, sort truth from lies when the lies contradict their own experience. They figured out Social Security “privatization” was a scam, for example. They’ve known for a long time the economy is barely limping along in spite of White House spin to the contrary. They’re slower when foreign policy is involved, because they can’t see what’s going on with their own eyes. But I think if only Americans could get accurate information from mass news media, they’d be a lot smarter about foreign policy, as well.
That’s most Americans, notice. Some are too far gone to be salvaged.
If you haven’t already seen it, be sure to read “Ship of Fools” by Johann Hari in yesterday’s Independent. Hari joined a National Review cruise to report on what conservatives say to each other. Here’s just a snip:
Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan’s one-time nominee to the Supreme Court, mumbles from beneath low-hanging jowls: “The coverage of this war is unbelievable. Even Fox News is unbelievable. You’d think we’re the only ones dying. Enemy casualties aren’t covered. We’re doing an excellent job killing them.”
Then, with a judder, the panel runs momentarily aground. Rich Lowry, the preppy, handsome 38-year-old editor of National Review, says, “The American public isn’t concluding we’re losing in Iraq for any irrational reason. They’re looking at the cold, hard facts.” The Vista Lounge is, as one, perplexed. Lowry continues, “I wish it was true that, because we’re a superpower, we can’t lose. But it’s not.”
No one argues with him. They just look away, in the same manner that people avoid glancing at a crazy person yelling at a bus stop. Then they return to hyperbole and accusations of treachery against people like their editor. The ageing historian Bernard Lewis â€“ who was deputed to stiffen Dick Cheney’s spine in the run-up to the war â€“ declares, “The election in the US is being seen by [the bin Ladenists] as a victory on a par with the collapse of the Soviet Union. We should be prepared for whatever comes next.” This is why the guests paid up to $6,000. This is what they came for. They give him a wheezing, stooping ovation and break for coffee.
Maybe we should build theme parks for these people so they can live in their fantasies and leave the rest of us alone.