Friday, September 19, 2003

Hidden Assumptions

Digby comments on a post by Tristero and makes an important point:

[...] This is true of a lot of good writers who are trying to sort out just what in the hell is going on with this administration. They are rational people so they begin with the idea that Junior and the Retreads are pursuing some sort of logical ends. In order to try and organize what they see, I think they end up having to attach meaning to words and actions that simply aren't there in order to keep themselves from going crazy. I know that it is one of the constant pitfalls in my own thinking.

I often find that a hidden, faulty assumption is the greatest source of confusion. For example, I used to massively confused by the scandals that swirled around the Clinton administration. I saw all this noise and fury but I couldn't for the life of me figure out what everyone was so upset about. The basic arguments just didn't seem to add up. It was when I read Gene Lyon's Fools For Scandal that I came to a revelation: the vast majority of the Clinton scandals evaporated as long as you didn't assume that they must have done something wrong.

Similarly, the actions of the Bush administration make much more sense once you realize that they aren't acting on a rational plan. You can begin to understand how we have gotten into this mess once you realize that these guys aren't as smart as their PR suggests. George W. Bush becomes almost understandable once you realize that Bush isn't a moderate. All of these assumptions have existed to one degree or another in the reporting on Bush's actions. The last being the most galling (Frank Bruni probably still thinks Bush does the things he does just to appease his right-wing base).

If you find yourself more confused after consuming any bit of reportage I suggest you check it again, but this time look for the hidden assumption. If you can figure out what it is then the pieces really start to fall into place.

1 Comments:

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