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.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dick says “so?”

It is a pretty sad nation that has to get its relevant and controversial news from a comedy show, but such is the status of early 21st century USA. Last week, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart broadcast a bit from an interview that Marta Raddatz of ABC News conducted on March 19 with Vice President Dick Cheney, on the occasion of the fifth (gasp!) anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq (the very same one that, according to Bush, was won a few weeks after the invasion, the infamous “mission accomplished” charade). Here is the relevant piece of dialog:

Interviewer: “Two thirds of Americans say it’s not worth fighting.”
Dick: “So?”
Interviewer: “You don’t care what the American people think?”
Dick: “No, I think we cannot be [pause to look for the right words to avoid making a bad situation worse] blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.”

Now, besides the fact that, as Stewart pointed out, this is the same Dick who was bragging about positive polls when the polls where positive (hey, consistency is the last refuge of small minds, as we all know), the stunning “so?” response should have provoked an uproar among the American population.

At the very least it shows that Cheney isn’t even a good politician, in the diminutive sense of the term (i.e., someone who can fool most of the people most of the times). Even if the VP of the United States of America thinks that the opinion of the people who elected him (sort of) isn’t worth shit, he should have better sense than actually saying so on national television.

But of course the real scandal is that this is an administration which, in the name of spreading democracy throughout the world, has gotten so casual with democracy at home to actually admit that it does not give a damn about what Americans think. Pause for a moment and try to digest the implications of that simple word, “so?” (It helps if you actually watch the video, where you can clearly see the smirk on Cheney’s face.) In a real and mature democracy, that single comment should have caused a national uproar, with people forcefully asking for an apology from the President, as well as for Dick’s immediate resignation. Instead, we all went to the movies during the weekend, and spent $24,590,596 to go see “Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!” Who says the economy is in trouble and we are in a recession? Not Dick, who in the same ABC News interview said that we are simply hitting “a rough patch.” You know, just like the insurgency in Iraq is “in its last throes.” Oh, wait, that was March 2005.


  1. I'm almost tempted to say: "so?". Not that I don't care but it's not a surprise. Didn't we know this about D.C. already?
    The sky is blue.
    Water is wet.
    Bush and Cheney don't give a damn what the public thinks.

    And what's to make them change? They seem to be able to get away with it without any repercussions. Eight flippin' years. A damn big chunk of even my extended number of years on this planet. Five years of Iraq... yeah it really sort of surprised me the other day when I heard it on the news. Can it really have been that long? The highjackers managed to kill 2,792 people on 9/11 and have indirectly killed another 4,000+ Americans since then. Would 4,000 Americans have died if we had not attacked Iraq? I think not. I heard George say in a speech yesterday that he would continue the war because he didn't want the deaths of the service personnel to have been in vain. Too late George!

  2. "It is a pretty sad nation that has to get its relevant and controversial news from a comedy show,..."

    Actually, there is someplace else that people should go to get some relevant news, and that is Democracy Now! Last week, March 17-19th Democracy Now! replayed coverage of the Iraq Winter Soldier's hearings.


    I recommend every one go listen to those Iraq veteran's testimonies in the archive. Then go to the Feb. 29th show which has an interview with economist Stiglitz and collegue on the cost of the war. Then replay Cheney's "so?" comment. Then you will really be steamed about this war.

  3. Bush and Cheney don't give a damn what the American public thinks because they get their mandate from a higher power, don'tcha know?

  4. I wonder why it is that Americans so willing accept being publicly 'dissed' by Cheney. What kind of results would be obtained by a survey asking whether D.C. cares about their opinions? This would perhaps clarify to what degree this is due to cognitive dissonance, lack of interest or just plain ignorance.


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