Thursday, August 25, 2005

Truth Hits Everybody (Well, Almost Everyone)

Yesterday, McCoy posted about how secular Iraqis were worried that the draft constitution would institute Islamic law and treat women like second class citizens. During the course of that post, McCoy presented Bush's patented "what, me worry" response to the possibility that Iraq's going down the same path as Iranian style theocracy.
President Bush, in an appearance in Idaho on Tuesday, asserted that the Iraqi document guaranteed women's rights and the freedom of religion in a country that in recent decades had only known dictatorship.

Labeling the Iraqi constitution an "amazing event," he said, "We had a little trouble with our own conventions writing a constitution."
McCoy's starting to believe Bush is "irreparably out of touch with reality." I've heard some intimation of this constantly for over five years now, and my feeling about Bush's apparent inability to grasp the facts on the ground still remains the same: He's not ignorant or out of touch, he's just indifferent. Truth and falsity just don't matter much to him. Some people point to his born-again faith as a determining factor for this outlook, but I think he's essentially a bullshit artist.Philosopher Harry Frankfurt wrote in his best-selling On Bullshit about the difference between the bullshit artist and the mere lier. The difference is illustrative of what Bush does when he makes statements like the above.
This [misrepresentation] is the crux of the distinction between him and the liar. Both he and the liar represent themselves falsely as endeavoring to communicate the truth. The success of each depends upon deceiving us about that. But the fact about himself that the liar hides is that he is attempting to lead us away from a correct apprehension of reality; we are not to know that he wants us to believe something he supposes to be false. The fact about himself that the bullshitter hides, on the other hand, is that the truth values of his statements are of no central interest to him; what we are not to understand is that his intention is neither to report the truth nor to conceal it. This does not mean that his speech is anarchically impulsive, but that the motive guiding and controlling it is unconcerned with how the things about which he speaks truly are. (my itl.)
Check out Frankfurt's last sentence and tell me if Bush's statements aren't part and parcel of bullshit. His whole presidency has been marked by bullshit, in which he consistently tells the people what they want to hear regardless of whether his statements even approximate reality. This is nothing new, politicians have been doing it for time immemorial. But what makes it a graver offense this time is that his bullshit is causing both innocent American soldiers and Iraqi civilians to die en masse.

As The Police song went, "The Truth Hits Everybody," and I believe the Sheehan protest is starting that inevitable process of sorting the truth from the bullshit. Hopefully, Americans will learn to move before they get dumped on by the President again.