Friday, May 18, 2007

The Assault on Reason

I tried to read this excerpt from Al Gore's upcoming book, but I got bored and gave up.

(Kidding! -- I devoured it like a starveling given a croque-monsieur.)
In describing the empty chamber the way he did, [Sen. Robert] Byrd invited a specific version of the same general question millions of us have been asking: "Why do reason, logic and truth seem to play a sharply diminished role in the way America now makes important decisions?" The persistent and sustained reliance on falsehoods as the basis of policy, even in the face of massive and well-understood evidence to the contrary, seems to many Americans to have reached levels that were previously unimaginable....

It is too easy—and too partisan—to simply place the blame on the policies of President George W. Bush. We are all responsible for the decisions our country makes. We have a Congress. We have an independent judiciary. We have checks and balances. We are a nation of laws. We have free speech. We have a free press. Have they all failed us? Why has America's public discourse become less focused and clear, less reasoned? Faith in the power of reason—the belief that free citizens can govern themselves wisely and fairly by resorting to logical debate on the basis of the best evidence available, instead of raw power—remains the central premise of American democracy. This premise is now under assault.
Jingo/Berlitz Industries translates for the attention-impaired: "We are rapidly drowning in our own loathsome bullshit." It's profoundly distressing, I suppose, that this needs to be said at all.

Run, Al, run!


Bobby Lightfoot said...


Geez, I hope my charisma factor goes up by a factor of 12 when *I'm* pushing sixty or whatever age he is.

Man, I think Al knows something about being pres. that we don't.

Tom said...

I'd love it if he did run, but honestly, after all of the Dumbitty McDumfuque "he couldn't even carry his home state" comments (hel-lo! Tennessee's in the frickin' solid-red South, geniuses!), I can't blame him if he doesn't. Once in the middle of the circular firing squad is enough for anyone, I think. (See also: Kerry, J.; Dukakis, M.; et al.)

Neddie said...

Tom, I don't know if you were around during this period, but this was the most inspiring performance I've ever seen from a mere politician. It was as if the 2000 debacle had convinced the man that there is nothing to be gained from the usual politician's mealy-mouthed equivocation. He was a rock star. I decided then and there that I'd vote for him again in a heartbeat.

Decatur Dem said...

Nominees will already be chosen- or have unstoppable momentum- by the day polls open in my state, and I'll vote for whoever has the D after his/her name. And I can live with any of the candidates. I can even get pumped about Obama or Edwards. But if Al would declare, I'd do whatever I could to get him nominated and elected. He seems to be everything that was good about candidate Dean, with none of the minuses.

Now if he would just dispense with some of the high-price campaign advisers...

hoact-- 1. The schtick that got Imus canned; 2. An old Honolulu nightclub routine.

noblesavage said...

Not to pee in the pool here, but -- Al? JeezuzMarynJoseph, Ned.
I caught his act at a conference last year -- somebody asked him about Current TV, supposedly his day job. Darn if the guy didn't go 40 minutes on the history of print, the rise of middle-class capitalism and the Enlightenment, mass media in the age of the electron, and the contending calls of reason and emotion in modern discourse, even eventually something about fuckin' Current TV. Which was a really good idea, since nobody watches it. Arianna Huffington was stabbing herself with the cuticle shears to stay awake even before Al was well into the salience of Jurgen Habermas.
Now, as it happens I'm into this particular bloviation, even lecture on it, but if my hands were big enough to get around his pudgy neck I would have strangled him for the whole "teacher's pet" bullshit of it all.
And I thought, Okay: this guy in a White House press conference. Eeek! Scary. Heck, after a year or two of it even Kos would burn firewood and drive an SUV just to spite him. As for the mainstream media, field day.
Hate it if you choose, but like pretty much everybody else in America, the president has a job in sales. Al's not there. For sure you won't hector and lecture the country into changing into a smarter place.

Blue Wren said...

Point made, noblesavage. (And Neddie, thanks for sharing your intellectual meal with us!) Al Gore certainly does tend to get lost in explanation when he speaks extemporaneously. But man, when he writes, he's sharp as a diamond blade.

But the other point you're making seems to be that Americans just can't be bothered with thinking or understanding anything more complicated, or less entertaining, than the judging process in American Idol, and thus would never sit still long enough to put up with him fits exactly what Al himself was saying in Neddie's excerpt.

As Americans, we need to wake up and think.

I really do wish Al would run in '08. I voted for him in 2000 and I'll do it again, if he does. In fact, I'd skip whistling to the polls. This country desperately needs a president who understands the concept of American democracy, the role of the People and the importance of the Constitution. If we end up with another corrupt, sadistic featherhead as president (note the chilling answers to the torture question by the Republican candidates recently), we're all in deep trouble.

Of course, we're already there. Please Al, run. America needs a rational adult in charge.

The Viscount LaCarte said...


Davis X. Machina said...

Americans just can't be bothered with thinking or understanding anything more complicated, or less entertaining, than the judging process in American Idol, and thus would never sit still long enough to put up with him

It's possible, I suppose that a republic, just as much as a person, could die from sclerosis of the carotids...

The late Neil Postman, Marley's-ghost-style, pointed out where we were all going twenty years ago in Amusing Ourselves to Death.

Ronzoni Rigatoni said...

RE-ELECT GORE IN '04! .....???.....Oh, wait, ...'O8!

There. I got it right (I think)

Kevin Wolf said...

Blue Wren, what is this "democracy" you speak of?

I'm not a Gore fan by any stretch of the imagination, but he's a lot closer to Presidential timber than Shrub ever was. If he ran, I'd vote for him over the rest of the pack.

Anonymous said...

US President Tim Kalemkarian, US Senate Tim Kalemkarian, US House Tim Kalemkarian: Best major candidate.

Ashley said...

“I believe that the purpose of life is to glorify God.”

GW Bush or the reasonable gentleman from Tennessee. Use your “Faith in the power of reason” to decide.