Thursday, March 03, 2005

Postmodernists in the White House

Click here now, turn your sound off, and let Salon's one-day pass run. While it's running, click back here and read some more. When the advertisement is done, go back and read Eric Boehlert's Salon article on the debasing of the American press.

I could be wrong, as I'm no philospher, but it sounds very much like the Bush administration has completely embraced the idea that there is no objective truth. One could argue that for the last 50-100 years the American press has provided the facts underlying our political meta-narrative. We accepted the news media as the arbiter of political truth and we judged our politicians by what we read, heard or saw on the news. Now, atleast according to Ron Suskind, Eric Boehlert, and possibly others, the Bush administration seeks to undermine and, ultimately, destroy the news media as our nation's meta-narrators. Certainly, the right-wing in this country has been decrying the "liberal" media and, increasingly, the left-wing has been decrying the "so-called liberal" media. As a result, people of different political leanings have gravitated towards particular news sources. Not until this Administration, though, has there been a clear and coordinated effort to promote non-objective reporting and, as Boehlert suggests, destroy the public's belief in an objective media.

Whether the Administration believes the media is dominated by liberals, I think, is immaterial. They are basically trying to undermine the press as a source of metanarrative, create their own localized narrative(s), and then hold the two up as equivalent. My hunch is, the Administration thinks very little of the average voter and doubts their ability to accurately assess the validity of any particular narrative. Thus, they want the voter to see a multiplicity of local narratives (press, interest groups, President) and then settle on the President's by dint of his role our Leader. Certainly, this Administration and Republican party has done more to try and create a cult of personality and sense of infallibility around the Executive than any other I can think of.

Whether this effort will succeed is hard to say. Should the President succeed, though, I agree with Ron Suskind that it bodes ill for our democracy, which is predicated on an informed electorate making rational decisions.

Perhaps my philospher/historian friend in Chicago might care to weigh in on whether one could actually call George Bush a postmodernist?

I ain't the only one who thinks this. Mike the Mad Biologist also notes that for this Administration words become meaningless, merely a means by which to evoke and manipulate voter reactions.