Thursday, November 16, 2006

Then & Now

The recently mostly sane Sully (quoting one of his readers):
There exists in every organization, whether it be a football team, a business, a political party, or a military, a point at which it is to the individuals folly to continue to subordinate their will in favor of the directives of their individuals. A quarterback shouldn't follow his coaches plan to run into the wrong end zone, an administrative assistant should not follow his bosses directions to engage in illegal business practices that will ultimately bankrupt the company, soldiers should not follow orders to round up Jews and send them to the gas chamber, and even generals committed to the idea of civilian control of the military must still at some point do what they can to dissuade their civilian superiors from a disastrous course.

It is so tempting to praise the famous discipline of the Republican coalition of the past few years, from Bush to Delay to Rush, as a critical component of what felt like great strength and success. But the failure to recognize that line where individuals needed to press back against the direction of their leaders was also an essential component of why so many of their actions resulted in catastrophe.

There is no easy guideline for when you need to stop being a team player who just tows the line and become a conscientious dissenter. But individuals who follow orders well past that point should definitely be considered lackeys, hypocrites, complicit accomplices, or worse.

Your humble scribe, July, 2005:
The strength, and the weakness, of such a closed, tautological system is that it is entirely immune to refutation by fact or logic. It is a strength, at least in the short term, because a black and white world view is seductive, and when packaged with blanket statements that also obviate the need for accepting responsibility, they are virtual opiates. Hoi polloi are comforted when medicated by pseudo-intellectuals with such circular, hand-washing nonsense as “The terrorists hate us for who we are, not what we do” and “The killers are killers because they want to kill, not because the coalition invaded Iraq, or Afghanistan, or because there are bases in Saudi Arabia, or because Israel will not retreat to the 1967 borders.” But with time, such insularity becomes weakness. As time and events inevitably increase the distance between rigid belief and reality, the necessary suspension of disbelief becomes ever more difficult. Galileo’s work outlived the Inquisition; Reagan traded arms for hostages although “in his heart” he thought otherwise; Iraq spirals further into Hell despite the spin of a hundred Panglosses. History unfolds heedless of the illusions of its spectators and even, to a large extent, of its participants.

So our President knows Karl Rove is innocent of any wrongdoing, no matter what facts may bubble up from the tar pit he nurtured but cannot acknowledge. Because Bush cannot recognize the incompatibility between his knowledge and the facts that refute it, he cannot resolve that contradiction. Thus it falls to Patrick Fitzgerald to resolve it for him.

As the Plamegate case goes forward, and the evidence against Rove in the real world mounts, it is likely that Bush will, to his ruin, continue to cling to his belief even as the tsunami of contrary facts engulfs him. If we are lucky, those who are so blind that shall not see will decide that following Bush lemming-like into that abyss might not be such a good idea after all. And maybe, just maybe, after the deluge we will finally have a meaningful confrontation between the "reality-based community" in which facts matter and actions have consequences, and the fairy-tale world where Neocons and fundamentalists know things because, well, just because.

Events are making it easy for me to be a good little Internet environmentalist:


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