Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I guess it's "Harangue the Times's Columnists" Week

To be fair and balanced, today I'm going to have to comment a little bit about Maureen Dowd's piece in the Times today.

It isn't factually wrong, as close as I can tell. It doesn't conflate ideological positions, nor confuse issues that are only somewhat related.

It's just not effective. Dowd has been hammering away at Bush harder, with more facts, figures, and words-from-his-own mouth for the past 5 years than just about anyone else in media. Even Krugman. That's the problem.

For the past 5 years Dowd has exposed the facts and figures, the logic and the deception driving this administrations policies and actions. And it's not doing any good.

Why? Americans are an intelligent, educated bunch of people who can sort out fact from fiction (we do it all the time with ads, right?).

The thing Dowd, and most of her political cohort haven't figured out yet is that Bush & co. aren't governing in the American Tradition of democratic-republicanism (N.B. the lower case). Dowd doesn't realize why Fox News is popular, either.

Bush & co. aren't into the whole governing by consensus thing: they don't believe in that liberal-hippie-claptrap. They govern on the basis that there are "true believers" and there are commu-liberal-hippie-terrorists who are unpatriotic and want to destroy the United States. Don't believe me? Look at how some went after Max Cleland, former Senator from Georgia.

They are justified in doing this for a couple of reasons, I think. First, is that they govern through faith alone, along Luther-Calvin-Khomenei logic. God has annointed his chosen, and there's nothing the rest of us can do to stand in their way. There are those who will be saved--true believers--and there are infidels. The second reason they do this is that it's OK to run a napalm-dropping slash-and-burn style political campaign, because true believers aren't going to be affected by such tactics. And they're not. (see below for the famous fox news poll.)

Similarly, and in contravention of commonly held beliefs, Fox News isn't trying to compete with CNN. Fox isn't in the business of news, it's in the business of reinforcing pre-concieved notions. There's a reason that Fox News viewers were less accurately informed than people who got their news from any other source (see pg 2). Because Fox doesn't really go after the news--it puts out what people want to believe: that bad guys all work together for the same goal. It doesn't matter if it's True, or Truth. It matters that people want to believe it, and it's easier to change the channel than the way someone looks at the world.

Dowd and her ideologic compatriates don't recognize that the kind of battles being waged on TV stations and in the political sphere are ones of ideas and faith and belief, not of logic or fact or reality. She (or Al Franken, or Air America) will only be "preaching to the choir" until people who disagree with Bush find a way to start putting their opposition into terms besides facts and reality, and start putting them into moral, faith and belief-based messages that people can feel in their stomachs before they have to think them through in their heads.

C'mon Maureen. It's been 5 years and Bush is still in chage. Maybe it's time for another tactic.

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