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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

You Don't Think What You Think You Think

You see it all the time on blogs and message boards. If a story about global warming is posted, some right wing moron comes by and tells you that you're a communist who's hyping a climate scare to destroy capitalism. If it's about evolution, someone leaves a comment that you hate Jesus. If it's antiwar, then you love terrorists.

Is there a more stupid and pointless lie than misrepresenting your position to you? I mean, what the hell's the point? You know what you think and you know why you think it -- does anyone really think they can fool you into believing otherwise?

The answer, according to an analysis by Jennifer Loven for the Associated Press, looks like yes. In fact, someone out there makes a habit of lying to you about what you think and that someone is George W. Bush.

Confronted with strong opposition to his Iraq policies, President Bush decides to interpret public opinion his own way. Actually, he says, people agree with him.

Democrats view the November elections that gave them control of Congress as a mandate to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq. They're backed by evidence; election exit poll surveys by The Associated Press and television networks found 55 percent saying the U.S. should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq.

The president says Democrats have it all wrong: the public doesn't want the troops pulled out - they want to give the military more support in its mission.

Look, there's spin and then there's laughable BS -- this is the latter. I don't know if it's meant to keep those last supporters of the war onboard or what, but it's hard to see too many people falling for it.

"I recognize there are a handful there, or some, who just say, 'Get out, you know, it's just not worth it. Let's just leave,'" the president tells us. "I strongly disagree with that attitude. Most Americans do as well."

No, we don't. The latest CBS News/NYT Poll shows that 63% -- i.e., 'most americans' -- support a timetable for withdrawal. It would be charitable to say that Bush is just wrong. I'm not charitable. Anyone who still gives him the benefit of the doubt is a fool. He's just lying.

And, as I said, he's lying to you about what you think. On what insane planet could that possibly work?

Of course, at this point, no one expects the man who'd posed as a straight shooter to do any straight shooting. He's become famous (or infamous) for spreading it thick. This was the man who'd repeatedly said we should 'stay the course' and, when the phrase became a liability, denied he'd ever said it. He said that he didn't care about Osama Bin Laden, then in a debate, accused John Kerry of lying when Kerry brought the statement up -- Bush called it "one of those exaggerations."

Given his record of lies and damned lies, it's hard to see what he expects to achieve with these new lies. Am I supposed to say, "Golly! Here I thought I was against the war... Good thing the president set me straight!"? Does Bush think we're all stupid, insane, or both?

I think there's a good argument that he's using himself as a model. The truth isn't some unchangeable thing for George W. Bush, it's a protean thing -- it changes with what you believe. For Bush and the right, reality is shaped by opinion, not fact -- global warming, for example, isn't a problem only because they believe so much that it's not true. If faith can move mountains, it can change reality. What you believe isn't as important as what Bush tells you believe. If he can convince you that the facts are wrong or mean something entirely different from what they plainly do, he can change reality.

If the right gets down on their knees and really, truly believe something, it becomes true, true, true, true.

Of course, I'm in danger of commiting the offense I'm accusing the president of. He may not think this way at all. In fact, I really hope he doesn't, since it's pretty much the defition of being delusional. But my evidence is one helluva lot better than his. Bush is constantly insisting he's right when it's clear to everyone in the damned wide world that he's not.

The best case scenario here, as it is so often when you discuss George W. Bush, is that he's just lying and not really completely insane.


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