About Rationally Speaking
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Can a third of the American people be delusional?
The most recent CNN poll indicates that Bush's approval rate is stable at 36%, which means that a bit more than a third of Americans hold to opinions that simply fly in the face of facts. Since the dictionary definition of delusion is “a belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by reality or rational argument,” I rest my case. QED.
Let us be clear, this is not a simplistic partisan shot. I can understand, not empathize, but understand, why someone would vote Republican. I understand why people can be against a woman's right to choose, or think that military intervention can actually solve a problem, or opine that “big government” is a bad idea (though Bush is in fact responsible for the biggest increase in government in recent and not-so recent memory). I can understand all of that and more, though I have what I think of as good arguments challenging each one of those positions.
But supporting Bush and his insane war after all these years is just insane, it's the result of pure ideological blindness and has nothing to do whatsoever with facts or reasonable opinions. And the fact that a third of the American population can so be characterized is worrisome in the highest degree. How can any reasonable person not see that Bushy Boy is simply kicking the can of the Iraq war in no specific direction (except backwards), with the only plan to unload the problem to whomever will be unlucky enough (Democrat or Republican) to inherit this huge mess he has created?
How can anyone not laugh at General Petraeus (if ever there was a name reminding one of the ancient Roman empire that is it!), who claims that he has recommended to Bush to begin withdrawing troops (maybe), bringing them back to pre-surge levels within a year? Since the amount of the withdrawal is the same as that of the recent increase that characterized the surge itself, this is like telling you that I'll be glad to give you a present worth $30,000, just as long as you in turn write a check for $30,000 to me. Who cannot see this as the outrageous shell game that it is?
Oh, but there has been progress in Iraq! Have we not seen Petraeus' diagrams during his testimony on Capitol Hill? Right, all I have to say is: Powell and the weapons of mass destruction (remember? They were clearly identified by the satellite photos produced in front of the United Nations. Too bad there wasn't anything there...).
The good news is that according to the same CNN poll, a whopping 50% of Americans think that Democrats would do a better job in Iraq than Bush. Duh, you might say, but this is huge, considering that Democrats have a long-standing reputation (invented by Republican demagogues) of being pussies when it comes to foreign policy in general and war in particular. How much longer until W. is out? Too long.