Monday, October 23, 2006

Ignorance as Power

One big difference between experts and bullshitters (besides the obvious one) is that experts hate ignorance and bullshitters require it. Experts hate having to explain things to laymen. They hate not being able to use their expert terminology and having to use babysteps in getting their message across. It’s just frustrating.

But bullshitters are exactly the opposite: They can only operate if you don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Or if you do know, that you can’t prove it to anyone. Because they don’t know anything either, but are better at hiding the fact from you. Sure, Dick Cheney didn’t know that we’d be greeted as liberators in Iraq, but you didn’t know the opposite and he sure did look confident when he said it.

And in that case, there was almost no level of expertise that could convince him otherwise. Jesus Christ himself could have come down from the heavens and said “Look Dick, they’re just not going to like us and you’re opening a messy can of worms,” and Cheney would have had the dirty hippy in Gitmo faster than you can say “crucifixion”. Ignorance is the fertilizer of bullshit.

Secret Knowledge

And I was thinking of this while reading the ever-awesome Digby writing of Bush Jr’s dissing of Poppy. As he quoted from a Brian Williams interview:
And yeah, we go out and can float around there trying to catch some fish, and chat and talk, but he understands what it means to be president. He understands that often times I have information that he doesn't have. And he understands how difficult the world is today.

And here we have Bush admitting that he’s even bullshitting his old man. Because what possible info could Bush have that the rest of us don’t know regarding the situation in Iraq? Troop movements and whatnot can be secret. Plans for clearing out insurgent-strongholds can be secret. So secret, in fact, that it’s likely that Bush knows any of the details of either. But what’s not a secret is that the “insurgency” is out of control and we have no real plan or capability to defeat it.

Sure, our guys can stay as long as we want, but that’s not a strategy. And if we don’t have any real longterm plan for defeating them, which we certainly don’t have, then it’s nothing but boneheaded defiance. It’s as if they’ve replaced foreign policy with a game of King of the Hill.

The Dunce King

And this is total bullshit. Sure, Bush is privy to stuff we don’t know, but I have serious doubts that his knowledge of Iraq is comparable to that of an avid blog-reader. Seriously. He doesn’t read reports, analysis, and news articles we read. Instead, he has his staffers summarize everything for him, and he doesn’t want to hear bad news. So they just feed him bullshit, and probably comfort him by acting as if they know stuff that they’re not saying. And it works, and Bush continues to believe that everything’s so much rosier than they appear and that he’s got some secret knowledge that the naysayers and haters aren’t aware of. After all, there’s no one easier to bullshit than a bullshitter.

And honestly, what could Bush possibly know that he couldn’t tell his dad? To my knowledge, ex-presidents can still have security clearances, and there’s no way that Junior can’t trust Senior with the info. He just doesn’t want to share because he has nothing to share. Because he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about and needs to have some super-secret knowledge to justify his non-policy in Iraq. And that’s totally the sign of a bullshitter. Experts want people on board. Experts like to be with other experts. Experts want other people’s expert opinion. But bullshitters need you to stay in the dark as much as possible and to simply trust them.

And as should be clear to Bush, that trust just ain’t there anymore. Unfortunately for us all, he’s too much of a bullshitter to realize that. So his only strategy is to keep piling it higher and can’t figure out why we’re blaming him for everything being so crappy.

P.S. Also from that Brian Williams interview:
And I explain my strategy to him, I explain exactly what I just explained to you back there how I view the current tensions, and he takes it on board, and leaves me with this thought, “I love you son.”

And can you think of anything more unlikely and awkward than this scenario? Frankly, I find it more horrifying to think of this being true. This scene makes sense were Junior to be an independent-minded teen quickly approaching manhood. But the fact that the President of the United States is still having such awkward and forced fishing trips is very embarrassing for both him and us. I’d much rather believe that Bush was just bullshitting us again, than believe that our President still needs reinforcement of his daddy’s unconditional love.

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