Saturday, July 15, 2006

Fathoming the Unfathomable

Why do conservatives have such a hard time with hypothetical questions?  The Bush Admin uses the “Can’t answer hypothetical questions” as one of many excuses to avoid answering questions they don’t like, as if it would be unethical to tell people your plans (and god forbid if you try using one as a follow-up question).  But even regular conservatives have a hard time with them.  If you ask a “what if” type question, they will inevitably insist that things aren’t that way, and revert back to their standard line.  

If you ask: “What if global warming is real?”  
The answer is: “Global warming is not real.”  
They’ve received their marching orders and nothing else matters.

And I think the answer is simple: Because it requires them to answer questions based on a separate set of facts than the ones they need to believe in.  Their system is entirely dependent on the idea that all facts line-up exactly as they need them to, and so they refuse to even consider alternatives.  For them, we have to prove beyond any shadow of criticism that our facts are real before they’ll even contemplate any of them.  Outside of that, we’re merely being delusional for not admitting the exact set of facts that they need to believe on any particular idea.

Of course Saddam had WMD’s and wanted to give them to terrorists.  Of course removing Saddam and installing democracy is the best course of action.  Of course the invasion will go well.  And so they don’t consider what might have happened if they were wrong, and consider us to be traitors for not demanding the same outcome that they were screaming for.  After all, if their facts were correct, we really are idiot traitors for not agreeing with them.  If they were correct.

And even once hindsight shows that they were wrong, they still refuse to contemplate the existence of an alternate set of facts.  To them, it wasn’t their facts that were wrong.  It wasn’t their theories or their conclusions.  It was some outside influence that was impossible to have deduced, and shouldn’t have been avoided.  And if things are bad for us now, they would only have been worse had we not invaded.  Or had we not cut taxes repeatedly.  Or had Bush excused himself from reading about a pet goat to learn more about the biggest terrorist attack in American history.  Or anything.  No matter what mistake a conservative makes, it would always have been worse had they not made it.  

For conservatives, the facts are already settled and agreed upon by everyone.  The only question is whether you’re honorable enough to accept their implications, or whether it’s cowardice, treason, or both that’s causing you to ignore them.  And so by mentioning hypothetical facts that aren’t established in their minds, they see you as delusional or that you’re just trying to muddy the issues.

It’s ok to torture terrorists because we know that they’re terrorists and that they’re withholding information from us that can only be obtained by torture.  And it’s ok to wiretap phones without warrants because we know who the bad guys are and we know the Bush Admin would never abuse them.  And it’s ok to plunge headfirst in whatever dangerous policy they want, because they already know all the relevant facts, and have foreseen the outcome.  To them, hesitation is the enemy, not ignorance.  So there’s no need to consider anything else or muck around in fictional facts.

But life isn’t like that.  If you plug-in different facts, you must get different answers.  And they don’t want to imagine the possibility of different answers, because it undermines everything they say.  Their conclusions are dependent upon specific facts being absolutely correct, so they just ignore the alternatives.  

If the answer they need is 4, then the facts must be 2+2.  It’s that simple.  And anything else is simply unfathomable.  They might be willing to accept 1+3, but only if it comes from an established rightwing source with impeccable credentials.  And even then, only if it turns out that Ted Kennedy likes the number 2.  They need a good reason to waste time rethinking any facts, but that damn drunk Ted Kennedy ruins everything.

3 comments:

The Major said...

I have no idea if your joking or not. it's hard to tell. You obviously don't understand that sometimes you don't have all the facts and you just have to do the best with what you do know. I know liberals love to play monday morning quarterback but life isn't like that. Sometimes you ahve to do the best with what you have. And you look at what you know and you do the best with what you do know. That isn't ignorance that's leadership. You probaly think George W. Bush should of sat there for an hour or even longer until he found out everything who the highjackers were what there names are what there favorite color is before he decided to hit them back. If we'd of had a liberal president on 911 he'd still be sitting trying to figure out what to do next because he didn't know every last little thing that could effect the outcome. We'd never of invaded Afganistan and the taliban would still be i power and Osama Bin laden would still be running terrorism from there. And Sadam would still be in Iraq and maybe they'd have nucular weapons or nerve gas or anthrax by now.
If you think that's leadership then that's why your canidates always loose the election.
I guess we should all hope you guys keep on doing what your doing because if you ever got your act together and won we'd all be in trouble. So maybe before you criticize our commander in chief you should think about how you couldn't do any better then he could either. I get so sick of you people always bad mouthing our leaders when we all know if Kerry was president we'd be in bad shape. He probably thinks he has to ask france if he can wipe his own ass. That's not leadership that's just being a weak flipflopper. So why don't you ever talk about what George W. Bush is doing right for a cahnge instead of bad mouthing him all the time. It doesn't help the troops in harms way for people like you to be criticizing our president in a time of war like this. I hope it makes you happy to be helping our enemies because don't think they don't know what people like you think and they have the internet to and they can use stuff like this to help recriut terrorists to fight america. If they know that Americans think this way then they know there work is already half finished all they have to do it come and hit us again and we'll fall apart. You might as well just join the t terrorists and get it overwith and try to overthrow our system yourself. You always think your helping and making us stronger by tearing down a strong leader like George W. Bush but your net helping anyone but the terrorists. I hope your happy.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell if the first respondent was satire or a form letter. I would have guessed spam robot but it didn't suggest I try online poker.

-MH

Phil B. said...

Yours was an entertaining post. Your respondent - parody or not - captures well the unconservative nature of today's Republicans (at least in the paragraph I managed to read....).

For conservatives, the facts are already settled and agreed upon by everyone.

I understand what you mean here.