Balkinization  

Sunday, June 03, 2007

"Words in a Time of War"

Marty Lederman

Mark Danner gave this commencement address to the graduating class of the U.C. Berkeley Department of Rhetoric last month.

As far as I know, it has not received anywhere close to the attention it deserves. I'm not familiar with any more incisive or more powerful account of how we came to be where we are today.

[Thanks to Scott for the tip.]

Comments:

I give you my favorite quotation from the Bush administration, put forward by the proverbial “unnamed Administration official” and published in the New York Times Magazine by the fine journalist Ron Suskind in October 2004. Here, in Suskind’s recounting, is what that “unnamed Administration official” told him:

“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.’


Oh please! No self respecting Republican would even grant the premise of the Dem self congratulatory turn of phrase "reality community," nevertheless claim that he or she operated outside reality.

There are literally thousands of Dems who work for the executive and are technically part of the Bush Administration who might generate this fiction, but no Republican who I have ever met.

‘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.

Find me a single Republican who would credit the far left smear that the United States is an "empire" or an "imperial power."

Are fictional creations like this how Dems really see the world? If so, that would go a long way to explaining how they constantly "misunderestimate" the GOP and this President in particular.

Reality based community indeed!
 

Professor Lederman: Not to toot my own horn, but I linked to that same bit in the "Senator Clinton's Views" thread, pointing to a copy of it at truthdig. Feels good to be running at least a couple minutes (well, 44, but who's counting?) ahead of the curve in such fine company.

Peace.
 

It's sad to see Mark Danner miss the point, as do so many American "journalists" otherwise known as reporters or newspapermen or as Andrew Marr calls them, hacks. The problem is not that we now live in an age of rhetoric it's that in pretending to live in an age of reason the members of the intellectual class have forgotten how to read a con. [What Marr still calls a trade America has made a profession.]

In a world where most of the people think American liberals are lazy fools, how can these fools claim the right to reason? If Al Gore can claim to speak for reason, where does that leave those who are actually Social Democrats? Where does that leave Tony Judt?.

It's a shame that a lawyer is not aware that the age of reason has led to little more than the rule of the assumptions of Neoclassical economics, when the adversarial ethics that is the basis of his career, and in fact the of rule of democracy and law as we define them, are both predicated on the rule of institutional prerogatives and formalized rhetoric.

The rule of reason will always end as the rule of the reasonable, and the definition of what's reasonable will change over time. [or do you agree with Nino Scalia?] Left unchallenged people will believe what they want to believe. Reasonable people believed Bush. Only the unreasonable knew enough to be afraid from the beginning.
 

“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.’”

- Karl Rove*

* rumored ;)


and Bart, i think you criticise Mr. Danner falsely.
 

Thanks for the link. All I can say (mouth) is "Wow."
 

MR. SIEGEL OF NPR: We're in the home stretch, though. And many might consider you on the optimistic end of realism about --

MR. ROVE: Not that you would be exhibiting a bias or anything like that. You're just making a comment.

MR. SIEGEL: I'm looking at all the same polls that you're looking at every day.

MR. ROVE: No you're not. No you're not!

MR. SIEGEL: No, I'm not --

MR. ROVE: I'm looking at 68 polls a week. You may be looking at four or five public polls a week that talk about attitudes nationally, but that do not impact the outcome –

MR. SIEGEL: -- name races between -- certainly Senate race

MR. ROVE: Well, like the polls today showing that Corker's ahead in Tennessee; or the race -- polls showing that Allen is pulling away in the Virginia Senate race.

MR. SIEGEL: Leading Webb in Virginia. Yes.

MR. ROVE: Yeah, exactly.

MR. SIEGEL: Have you seen the DeWine race and the Santorum race and -- I don't want to –

MR. ROVE: Yeah. Look, I'm looking at all these Robert and adding them up. And I add up to a Republican Senate and a Republican House. You may end up with a different math, but you're entitled to your math. I'm entitled to "the" math.

- KKKarl on NPR 10-26-2006

Shorter Rove: Mr. Siegel, I know the fix is in and you don't.
 

''Just in the past few months,'' Bartlett said, ''I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.'' Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: ''This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . .

''This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' Bartlett went on to say. ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.'' Bartlett paused, then said, ''But you can't run the world on faith.''

NYT - 10/17/2004
 

I found more background on this interview with a "senior Bush aide" that is revealing as well.

"In 2002, when those Esquire pieces were running, at one point they decided in the White House that maybe I could be educated. ... I was essentially set up to have a meeting with somebody from the inner circle who was going to tell me things that I ought to understand.

The aide and myself [were talking about] the global news cycles, about the fact that when you send out a message, it gets picked up now by Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, by news outlets around the world. If that message is strong and coherent, it does alter the landscape. It creates its own kind of tailwind, its own kind of force.

At this point, [the aide] looks at me and says, "You know, Ron, guys like you are in what we call the 'reality-based community.' ...

[We are history's actors] And if you start being nice to us --" he says at the end, "-- which you haven't been, maybe one of us will deign to visit you at that seminar you teach up at Dartmouth in the summers, in your tattered tweed blazer."

I said: "God, you're so angry at me. You know, I have a job here, and it's one with a real history, and I'm trying to do it effectively. The fact is, if you come to my office and check the books on the shelves -- any one marked "history" -- you will know that people who believe what you just said end up in history's dustbin. Just check the books. Don't trust me; check history." And he just sort of smiled at me and says, "Well, we've agreed to disagree." ...

- Frontline interview with Suskind.
2/13/2007
 

Garth said...

Bart, i think you criticise Mr. Danner falsely

Unless Danner is misquoting Suskind, I thought I was accusing Suskind of writing this fiction.
 

"it's a fiction"

no one from the WH has denied it and Mr. Suskind is supposedly very thorough...
 

danner's point was that Bush is divorced from reality. Danner quotes Suskind, you know, in order to back up his point.

you claimed no Republican would say that.

you are accusing Mr. Suskind of being a liar.

that's a dangerous accusation to make Mr. DePalma.
 

do you care to retract your statement in light of Ron Suskind's quote from KKKarl?

excerpts mine

Karl Rove: We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality...We’re history’s actors…. and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.
 

sorry... a senior aid from Bush's inner circle... or Suskinds a liar.

which is it Bart?
 

or maybe this "senior aid from Bush's inner circle" is a Democrat!

yeah, that's the ticket!

we all know KKKarl's a Republican!
 

A bit of mistatement, foreshortening --

". . . . It is no accident that one of Karl Rove’s heroes is President William McKinley, who stood at the apex of America’s first imperial moment, and led the country into a glorious colonial adventure in the Philippines that was also meant to be the military equivalent of a stroll in the park and that, in the event, led to several years of bloody insurgency — an insurgency, it bears noticing, that was only finally put down with the help of the extensive use of torture, most notably water-boarding, which has made its reappearance in the imperial battles of our own times."

Actually, the insurgency in opposition to the McKinley-initiated (as urged by William Randollph's Herst's yellow journalism) effort to subjugate the Philippines under US _diktat_ continued well into the 1930s, and "required" as response a US puppet-dictatorship that only fell with Marcos.

And that doesn't address the continuing underlying Muslim insurgency by those subjugated by Spain's earlier imposition of Christianity.

For those interested in the down-and-dirty of that US effort, google "anti-imperialism Mark Twain Zwick".
 

"sorry... a senior aid from Bush's inner circle... or Suskinds a liar.

"which is it Bart?

"# posted by Garth : 9:34 PM"

Why be particular? To Bart, reality is a fantasy. And when asserted in a way which refutes Bart's ideology, and or exposes his morally depraved heroes for what they are, is a lie.
 

Garth said...

do you care to retract your statement in light of Ron Suskind's quote from KKKarl?

You have yet to provide any attributed quotes by Rove which even remotely match the statement which I called fiction.

excerpts mine

Karl Rove: We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality...We’re history’s actors…. and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.


Please give us all a link showing that these are quotes attributed to Rove. The best you could do is another unattributed rambling by Suskind in a Frontline episode.
 

The evidence for Rove is circumstantial but persuasive, at least until we see an alternative contender. Cf. Rove's pseudo-intellectual maunderings in the Jeffrey Goldberg N'Yawker puff piece.

The context, from Suskind:

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.''


Now, note the Esquire 2002 story on "Mayberry Machiavellis." Suskind talked to several people in the spring of 2002, but couldn't get to Rove. "Eventually" he got his interview, one topic of which was Karen Hughes.

(Also in that article: "Rove, who never graduated from college but has a deep love of academic inquiry, seemed to enjoy having DiIulio to fence with.")
 

Bart.

You said no republican would call America an Empire.

Suskind says the quote came from a "senior white house advisor" a "member of Bush's inner circle."

I think that means a Republican.

Are you calling Suskind a LIAR?

i have admitted that we don't know for sure who gave the quote except for the above clues.
 

"Find me a single Republican who would credit the far left smear that the United States is an "empire" or an "imperial power."
-Bart DePalma

Suskind has done so.

Are you calling Susking a liar?
 

This is priceless. Professor Balkin should make it the topic of a post or at least append it as a footnote to Mark Danner's speech.

I present "the Professor" Bart DePalma ruminating on the free speech and aid and comfort to our enemies.

Professor Bell:

I would disagree with the use of the extent of the defendant's corroboration (collaboration?)with the enemy to determine whether the speech itself is protected under the 1st Amendment. Rather, the questions of fact of whether the defendant intended to provide aid and comfort to the enemy and whether the speech in fact provided such aid and comfort should be left to the jury in a treason trial.

I would suggest that the 1st Amendment should treat propaganda like slander or libel. If the defendant broadcasted a statement of fact (not an opinion) which he or she knew was false to a third party, the speech should fall outside the First Amendment.

Under this construct, treason would include an American citizen who intentionally broadcasted to two witnesses a statement of fact which he or she knew was false and which he or she knew provided aid and comfort to the enemy.

In sum, treason should include American citizens providing aid and comfort to the enemy on their own initiative. As to the actual damage done by the treason, I do not see the effective difference between the identical enemy propaganda broadcasted by an American citizen on his or her own initiative or in coordination with the enemy. American citizens spreading lies with the intent to destroy the war effort and give victory to the enemy in a war are traitors.

# posted by Bart DePalma : October 13, 2006 9:00 AM
 

Is Suskind a liar Bart?
 

@Garth: Yo, do you have a working link for that bit of Bart's you quote on treason; I think I'll wanna see the whole ugly lot of it. Thanks!
 

Post a Comment

Home