Monday, August 22, 2005

Since September 11th, America, in the thrall of political opportunists and nutcase neoconservatives, has gone through the looking glass, where reality is created not by consensus, but by fiat. The Bush administration has not been shy or subtle with their psychotic break from reality, either. Condoleezza Rice stalks Europe dressed like Catwoman. Dick Cheney does his uncanny Dr. Strangelove imitation from an undisclosed safe place miles below the capital. And the boy in the bubble retreats to his Neverland ranch in Crawford for month-and-a-half-long vacations clearing brush while the nation’s sons and daughters are being blown to smithereens on the battlefield that is Iraq. And for what?

That’s what Cindy Sheehan wanted to know. And while the question should be easy enough to answer, it irks the right because they know it’s a taunt: the administration cannot answer it without admitting to a pattern of conscious deception and systematic dissimulation. But Iraq is not only about the administration’s bald lies. It is also very much about the nation’s willingness to believe them, or, if you prefer, our unwillingness to contravene them. The emperor clearly has no clothes, but we have all agreed up to now to ignore this inconvenient reality. All except Ms. Sheehan. But when reality by consensus clashes with reality by fiat, things can get ugly.

In answer to Sheehan’s outrageous, improper, and quite possibly seditious question the Neocons, who conned America into a desperate and costly real-life war based on imaginary threats, did not repeat the sinister words a senior advisor to Bush intoned to journalist Ron Suskind back in 2002: “We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” (Cue evil laughter.) Not surprisingly, they did not deign to answer Ms. Sheehan at all. Instead they unleashed their attack dogs, who set to, chewing her up and spitting her out.

And Sheehan is an easy enough target: a mother bereft at the loss of her 24 year old son, Casey, and going through a divorce. She is openly emotional at times, too earnest for our ironic culture, full of self-righteous indignation that doesn’t play well on TV. She’s no polished politician, that’s for sure, despite the right’s insistence that she is a pawn of the “loony left”. Which, indeed, she has become, to a point. The Gold Star Families for Peace commercial starring Sheehan smacks of political opportunism. But whatever Cindy Sheehan’s take on politics, however off-base it might be in some respects, there is the undeniable reality of her son’s death. And the inability of this administration to address that reality, lest the one they’ve created out of whole cloth unravel.

The pioneering psychiatrist Karl Jaspers outlined three criteria for identifying delusional beliefs: certainty, incorrigibility (not changeable by proof to the contrary), and impossibility or falsity of content. Which pretty much sums up this administration’s policy portfolio. Time for a reality check.

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