21 August 2006

That Sinking Feeling

In October 2004, Ron Suskind wrote the following in the
NY Times Magazine:

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.''

Charming, no? And no doubt historians will indeed study
what they’ve done for many years to come -- and it
won’t be pretty. After more than two years of
unrelenting tragedy and incompetence, it is quite clear
that reality cannot simply be extinguished because a
bunch of pencil-necked, chickenhawk neo-cons in the
White House say so.

Which is why their whole Middle East adventure has
turned into a world-class crapfest.

But you don’t have to take my word for it -- or the rest of
the 60% of Americans who agree that the Iraq War is a
fuck-up of monumental proportions. To really see just
how far the reality-based insurgency has penetrated the
Land of Oz, check out this article from Peter Baker in the
Washington Post.

"Conservatives for a long time were in
protective mode, wanting to emphasize the
progress in Iraq to contrast what they felt was
an unfair attack on the war by the Democrats
and media and other sources," Rich Lowry,
editor of the National Review, said in an
interview. "But there's more of a sense now that
things are on a downward trajectory, and more
of a willingness to acknowledge it and pressure
the administration to react to it."

Lowry's magazine offers a powerful example. "It
is time to say it unequivocally: We are winning in
Iraq," Lowry wrote in April 2005, chastising
those who disagreed. This month, he published
an editorial that concluded that "success in Iraq
seems more out of reach than it has at any time
since the initial invasion three years ago" and
assailed "the administration's on-again-off-again
approach to Iraq."

"It is time for the Bush administration to
acknowledge that its approach of assuring
people that progress is being made and
operating on that optimistic basis in Iraq isn't
working," the editorial said. Lowry followed up
days later in his own column, suggesting that the
United States is "losing, or at least not obviously
winning, a major war" and asking whether Iraq
is "Bush's Vietnam."

Reality sure is a bitch, ain't it? Better hurry, guys.
Those lifeboats are filling up pretty fast.