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November 01, 2006

Why They Think They Can Get Away With It

Hunter had a great piece up on DailyKos today that goes a long way toward answering the question of how the Republicans get away with keeping folks like Bill Sali and Mark Foley and a whole rash of incompetent and/or corrupt people in positions of power in state and federal government. He quotes Atrios who is talking about Thomas Sowell, the conservative columnist who is a fellow at the Hoover Institution. Sowell had been passing along Republican talking points, most recently saying Nancy Pelosi doesn't want phone calls to and from terrorist to be monitored, a straight up lie.

Atrios says of Sowell:

Shameless dishonesty is all that the conservative movement has left. Expect them to employ it even more often than usual.

Then Hunter paints the bigger picture:

Ah, but spectacular lying, of course, is the entire problem with conservative "think tanks" and other attempts at partisan-based pseudo-intellectualism. The very mission of places like the Hoover Institution is to come up with the desired conservative premise or policy first, and manufacture some "facts" second. The mission is not science, or even policy -- it's publicity. Manufactured places to put out media messages with an aura of authority or intellectualism.

Tax cuts? Global warming? War? They can pretend to be experts at all of them. Figure out the policy you want to support, then have Sowell or someone else scribble down the Very Erudite Explanation of why black is actually white, the sky is actually magenta, or Saddam's secret still-really-really-existing WMDs have been spirited to the kitchen of an Applebee's in... oh, let's say "Syria", this time. The whole point of think tanks is rank dishonesty in areas where serious educators, intellectuals, government workers, and other experts in the field in question have unanimously come up with an answer that conservatives don't want to hear.

What I find interesting (in a strictly car wreck, we're-all-going-to-die sort of way) is while the think tanks started out to provide thin but important-sounding justifications for whatever conservative graft or manipulation was being attempted during any particular period, the think tank model has now entirely transferred to the White House itself. Listening to Tony Snow (or any of the previous press secretaries) is like listening to an off-off-Broadway theatrical production exploring the pathology of compulsive lying. They don't care what the truth is: after spending every minute of every day reinforcing their fragile little bubbles of newspeak, in fact, it's not even clear they know what the actual truth is.

Which is why, in a nutshell, we're in Iraq to begin with, the perfect think-tank-produced war -- because the policy came first, and actual knowledge was ignored as new "facts" were fixed around that desired policy. And all of those facts -- nearly every single one of the "big" facts used to enter the war -- turned out to be either fabricated or a product of extraordinary incompetence.

I'm not entirely sure why even the most intrinsically gullible in media and even among the true believers would not see the pattern, here. When you have a policy apparatus created specifically to counter actual expertise with made-up hokum, the outcomes of Doing That Hokum turn out to be, what a surprise, a clusterfuck in every particular.

So yeah, they're professional liars. That's what they're paid for. Killed a hell of a lot of people, in these last few years, and lost us our only significant chance at killing bin Laden when they decided that dedicating U.S. troops towards The Policy was more important than dealing with the actual realities of the world around them -- but that's what they do, and they don't have the slightest remorse about it.

Which is why of course it's time to get rid of as many of the worst of these Republicans as possible. We will still have to deal with the lying conservatives in the right-wing think tanks but we'll focus on that down the line.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 1, 2006 at 03:11 PM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink

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