Thursday, January 26, 2006

Manufacturing Reality

We don't need no constitution
We don't need no civil rights
No liberal lawyers asking questions
Traitors leave them spies alone
Hey traitor leave them spies alone
All in all it's just another step toward the throne
--From Songs to our Glorious Leader 3rd ed.
The Bush Administration's recent dog and pony show Why we Spy! doesn't aim to convince anyone of the validity of any of their pretexts for expanding executive power. That is apparent from the laughable amateurishness of the presentations they have made so far. It doesn't matter if they are incoherent, or contradict themselves or if they authoritatively assert that the Constitution does not use words that it in fact plainly does. They don't care because the whole show is not about logic, or valid interpretations or even 3rd grade reading proficiency.

The aim rather is to create the illusion of controversy. It is a key technique in the propagation of really big lies. And this strategy has served them well in the past in denying global warming and in attempts to legitimize creationism. A strategy pioneered long long ago by the tobacco lobby to cloud recognition of the link between smoking and cancer, as Chris Mooney has shown.

And hey, the technique works. The newspapers, out of a misplaced sense of fairness, give equal time to both sides, even though one has no legitimate leg to stand on. And in the case of the president there is an automatic presumption of legitimacy to everything he says and does. He couldn't possibly just be pulling this shit out of his ass, so they normalize it. He has a good heart. Whatever he does it must be to protect our interests. Just another boring technical legal controversy. Give the president the benefit of the doubt. Again.


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