Blogs > Liberty and Power > Faith-based Presidents and Reality-based Communities

Aug 8, 2005 5:06 pm


Faith-based Presidents and Reality-based Communities



The buzz in the blogosphere this morning is Ron Suskind's piece in yesterday's NYT magazine on the "faith-based presidency" of George W. Bush.  The overarching theme is that this president not only brokers no disagreement, but prefers no contact with reality on the basis of his faith-inspired certainty and confidence.  The quote that's getting the most attention is this one:

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.''

Who besides guys like me are part of the reality-based community? Many of the other elected officials in Washington, it would seem. A group of Democratic and Republican members of Congress were called in to discuss Iraq sometime before the October 2002 vote authorizing Bush to move forward. A Republican senator recently told Time Magazine that the president walked in and said: ''Look, I want your vote. I'm not going to debate it with you.'' When one of the senators began to ask a question, Bush snapped, ''Look, I'm not going to debate it with you.''

Several bloggers, including our own Gene Healy, are now taking to proudly calling themselves members of the "reality-based community."  I concur.  In fact, it would be pretty cool to start a web banner campaign, or pick a ribbon color that's not taken, to publicize that we are members of said community.

Frankly, after reading Suskind's piece, I'm more tempted than ever to not just root for John Kerry, but to in fact vote for him.  There may not be much that's new in that piece, but it brings together lots of stuff under a common theme that scares the living daylights out of me.




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Jennifer Franklin Elrod - 10/24/2004

Yes, Bush is no garden variety sucky, cynical politician. His right hand does not know what his left hand is doing. He seems to think that whatever he does is somehow, automatically the will of God. And many people seem to agree. To gain even deeper insight into this frightening new collective psychosis sweeping our nation, read The Madness of George W. Bush. It is important to understand that even if Kerry wins, the collective psychosis that enabled Bush to play his role on the world stage will still exist. We will have to deal with it, somehow, without feeding it with more fear/hatred.


Jennifer Franklin Elrod - 10/24/2004

Yes, Bush is no garden variety sucky, cynical politician. His right hand does not know what his left hand is doing. He seems to think that whatever he does is somehow, automatically the will of God. And many people seem to agree. To gain even deeper insight into this frightening new collective psychosis sweeping our nation, read The Madness of George W. Bush. It is important to understand that even if Kerry wins, the collective psychosis that enabled Bush to play his role on the world stage will still exist. We will have to deal with it, somehow, without feeding it with more fear/hatred.


Keith Halderman - 10/19/2004

So if the Bush team creates its own reality then the thousand dead American soldiers, the daily car bombs, the lack of Iraqi oil on the world market, the growing deficit were all done on purpose?


Chris Matthew Sciabarra - 10/18/2004

Interestingly, not all those who are influenced by Rand are buying the Bush Presidency. (Even Leonard Peikoff is urging people to vote for Kerry, because of Bush's faith-based politics. But Peikoff is also urging war against Iran...)

While we're talking about Suskind's piece, I should also remind readers that I have long indicted the Bush administration for being a constellation of neocon and pietistic impulses. Check out my essay, "Caught Up in the Rapture."


Charles Johnson - 10/18/2004

''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 is straight-up fascist psycho-epistemology. Triumph of the Will re-born.

Meanwhile, half of the Objectivists online seem to be rushing to Bush's defense. So it goes.


Aeon J. Skoble - 10/18/2004

Yes, sign me up! I don't think the turquoise ribbon is taken yet.

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