Truthiness: or why making some thoughts unthinkable makes the unthinkable thinkable
1 : "truth that comes from the gut, not books" (Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," October 2005)
2 : "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true" (American Dialect Society, January 2006)
For a brief period, when many Americans had tired of the utter mendacity of the Bush administration and its media lapdogs, Stephen Colbert's coinage — "truthiness" — gained national currency.
Nowadays, invoking that term is an uncool as singing "Who Let the Dogs Out?" Or saying "nowadays."
Worse than just a fad past its shelf-life, it's — in the Age of Obama — an untimely dig at those who blissfully believe what they want to believe. People with hope and faith. Don't you support our hopers and faithers?
In the present environment, any and all criticism of Obama is treated by the supposed Democratic base as illegitimate.
Can you build a progressive discourse on ducking the tough questions — like whether continuing and expanding America's murderous misadventures constitutes a war crime?
Yes we can give truthiness a chance. And as a necessary byproduct of that endeavor, one of the finest writers in the blogosphere, Arthur Silber, is demeaned as a "poo flinger" on Daily Kos (h/t, Chris Floyd).
It just wouldn't do to consider whether Obama doing the same things that made Bush a vile killer in our eyes puts the 43rd president in the same league.
After all, as one commenter responds with the intellectual rigor that only all-caps can convey: "OBAMA IS PRESIDENT OF THE US AND IS NO WAR CRIMINAL!!"
This is differentiable from "WHEN THE PRESIDENT DOES IT, THAT MEANS IT IS NOT ILLEGAL" how, exactly? No matter. That was Nixon, and he was baaaaad, unlike our Youthful Hero.
This recalls the Credibility Gap's "Lance Learns to Box" sketch, where Lance explains his father's blanket innocence: "He's the Chief of Police. They never molest."
This kind of sacred-cow thinking kills people.
Unlike Mr. Bush, I can't reliably look into people's souls, but I would bet that when the likes of Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and John Kerry voted for the AUMF, they found it literally unimaginable that the good ol' United States, whom they authorized to start bombing Iraq if it damn well felt like it, would do so without legitimate justification. Perhaps I'm wrong, and those three all had a hard-on for war in Iraq equal to Joe Biden's. But I can see how the aura of prestige and American Exceptionalism could lead people who are something short of sociopaths to trust in the infallibility of the enterprise they've risen to high positions in.
Similarly, despite the obvious untruthfulness of religion, even Al Gore's thoughtful ode to rationality, The Assault on Reason, cut a little slack to that venerable font of truthiness. It's just too damn gauche to prick some bubbles.
Well, fuck sacredness. Fuck the sacredness of the office, and fuck the sacredness of the Democratic Party. If the office and party are used for good, good. If they're used for evil, it's fucking evil. And pointing that out and holding the government that acts in our name to account doesn't make one a flinger of poo.
Well, apparently in the Age of Obama, it does. So be sure to stay on the good side of your appointed Hope Officer.
The group-enforced refusal to entertain certain questions and assertions manifests itself whenever or wherever one asks an inconveniently germane question.
For example, I asked Chris Floyd, at his place, if he thought that any form of preemptive action by the United States would be appropriate to mitigate risks that arguably could ensue if Pakistan's political instability hits the fan. That got me a considered reply from Chris ... and tons of vitriolic comments accusing me of cheering on the murder of Afghan innocents.
Whether it's kicking the tires on the two-minutes hate about Caroline Kennedy's "candidacy" for Senate, or the left's biases on I/P, or the cult of The One, there are questions and observations that are as off-the-table as impeachment and single-payer. All enforced by a culture that makes damned sure you feel like you kicked a hornet's nest if you "go there," for any "there" that your tribe considers off-limits.
Perhaps one disagrees with Arthur and concludes that Obama's actions are justified or fall short of "war crimes" (as one may legitimately disagree with me on any and all issues). The Kos poster, "Eternal Hope," does, in fact, put forth some arguments.
But Mr. or Ms. Hope's real business is not debate. It's, quelle surprise, the flinging of poo. Why else is the post peppered with excretory imagery, which makes it clear that questioning or passing judgment on the Af/Pak surge, or any aspect of the Obama presidency, is to become the epitome of foulness.
Thankfully, the beloved Masters of War are immune from such judgments. So it goes.