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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2012-10-16 05:59
Subject: [politics] Delusions of truth
Security: Public
Tags:culture, politics
I've commented before on the explicitly post-truth campaign that Mitt Romney is running. He frequently makes statements that are either untrue on the plain face of the facts ("President Barack Obama has not signed one new free-trade agreement in the past four years."), or are flatly contradictory to his own statements, often within the same news cycle (“There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”). These lies get very little play in the mainstream media and none in the conservative commentariat, and apparently suit their purpose very well in appealing to specific audiences Romney is trying to address. His running mate, Paul Ryan, has a similarly elastic relationship with truth and ethics.

I've assumed all along this is typical political manipulation, the deeply cynical approach pioneered in its modern form by Lee Atwater and Roger Ailes largely to get the GOP past the political disaster that was Richard Nixon, then perfected by Karl Rove, and maintained on a daily basis by FOX News (which has in the past explicitly sued to protect their right to lie on First Amendment grounds).

However, I am realizing with dawning horror that it's quite possible that Romney actually believes whatever he's saying, whenever he's saying it. That this isn't cynical opportunism, but an actual detachment from reality. A cognitive issue, or perhaps indescribably terribly judgment.

Certainly over the past decade or so, the conservative movement has made a concerted and self-conscious effort to opt out of the reality-based community. Many American conservatives have convinced themselves that when the facts disagree with their ideology, the facts have been biased or distorted by liberal sources. That's the relentless daily message of FOX News, for example. And that thinking lies behind everything from evolution denial to climate change denial to supply side economics — all cherished conservative positions with no objective basis in the real world.

When as the conservative movement has done, you demonize and disparage intellectual achievement and the validity of real world data and experience, intellectual consistency really does stop being a concern.

We know from Romney's own words that he believes things which are incomprehensible to almost all of the rest of us. When he told unemployed Florida voters, "“I should tell my story. … I’m also unemployed," Romney was equating the experience of having a quarter billion dollars of net worth with being out of work and unable to pay his bills. Or Ann Romney's comments about their struggles in the early years of their marriage, ""They were not easy years. […] Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time."

The Romneys are people who believe their experiences of unemployment and financial struggle connect them with everyday Americans. And they seem genuinely offended when others don't accept that self-assessment. In this, they both are hideously detached from reality. And it's only small example of what seems to go on in Romney's mind.

This doesn't precisely qualify Mitt to be president.

I'm starting to be far more frightened by the idea that Romney believes his own words than I ever was by the callow cynicism I'd assumed in him up until now. Admittedly, the nation will survive his presidency if elected. We survived the charismatically veneered Alzheimer's of Ronald Reagan, and we survived the dry drunk, entitled incompetence of George W. Bush, after all. But the idea that anyone takes this man with his shallow, inconsistent ideology and cognitively fractured worldview seriously is just frightening. The idea that tens of millions of my fellow citizens take him seriously is just depressing.

We really do get the government we deserve.

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dionysus1999
User: dionysus1999
Date: 2012-10-16 13:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There's a strain of willful ignorance that's been rising among conservatives for a while now. Regardless of whether Romney wins this election (TFSM forbid)the Republicans will reap what they've sown, let's hope the rest of us can survive their stupidity.
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Tom
User: voidampersand
Date: 2012-10-16 14:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's a privilege to be oblivious like that.
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russ: quo vadis
User: goulo
Date: 2012-10-16 15:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:quo vadis
> We really do get the government we deserve.

The "we" in that statement (which I often see) is always rather weird to me. The statement seems true in the same way that, e.g., if 2 guys mug me, then "we got what we deserved", since a majority (2 out of 3) people involved decided they were for the attack instead of against it...

I guess the statement feels like a weird mix of "blame the victim" (i.e. the people who knew better and tried not to have Romney as president should have tried harder to convince others not to vote for Romney, so it's their fault for not dissuading Romney voters more effectively) and "group punishment" (i.e. some members of the group idiotically voted for Romney, so the whole group must be punished as a result).

I guess I just don't see what I've done that would make me deserve having Romney as my president. :/
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-10-16 15:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I guess I just don't see what I've done that would make me deserve having Romney as my president. :/

Me neither, I was just being sad and sarcastic.
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russ: quo vadis
User: goulo
Date: 2012-10-16 15:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:quo vadis
Yeah, I supposed it wasn't a serious assertion by you, but just a commonly used expression of sad sighing about the constant stupid anti-intellectualism and cynical lies ("straight from the pit of hell", to borrow a phrase, heh...)

Still, it's an interesting expression when one thinks about it literally.
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ulfhirtha
User: ulfhirtha
Date: 2012-10-16 16:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This is reminding me of a take on Hastur I once read which equated it with entropy, both physical and mental. Your horror is the appropriate response to what really seems to be the functional (and self-inflicted) insanity of the GOP.

Coupling this kind of wholehearted embrace of insanity with the dangers of uninformed militrary adventurism and the expected re-imbrace of disastrous & exploded fiscal theories, I am less convinced than you that we will survive a President Romney. While Reagan and W didn't immediately finish the US off I am increasingly convinced they dealt us blows that are proving debilitating in the long run and downright mortal if left unchecked. I have this deep sense that all too many of our fellow citizens are tired of America being a great nation and the kind of effort that requires; how else to explain W getting a second term?

We may get the government we deserve, but what is unforgivable is how it will affect billions more outside our borders. (one of *my* tests of a candidate is the basic one of "do I want this person having the ability to destroy the earth through nuclear fire and winter at their whim?". Takes more than a good suit & a nice haircut to convince me on that score)
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Danny Adams
User: madwriter
Date: 2012-10-16 18:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm starting to wonder if the worst thing that could happen to Republicans is for Romney to get elected. Because I doubt the economy is getting better anytime soon regardless of who wins, and right now they can pin it all on Obama.
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Danny Adams
User: madwriter
Date: 2012-10-16 18:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
" That this isn't cynical opportunism, but an actual detachment from reality."

I've actually heard it said numerous times over the years, with complete sincerity, that this is a skill you have to develop if you're an ambitious politician.
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Chris McKitterick: domestic dissent
User: mckitterick
Date: 2012-10-16 21:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:domestic dissent
Excellent observation. The creepiest part of this post is that Faux Noose won the right to lie in court.

WHUT?
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