Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Theory vs. Reality

A brief thought about Josh Marshall's thinking: Josh was a big promoter of Ken Pollack's "The Gathering Storm", the book that provided the intellectual foundation for liberal hawks in their support of Bush's war on Iraq. Josh was an initial supporter of the war, yet soured on it in the final hours as he realized that Bush was simply not up to the task at hand.

Josh has also been a big promoter of Judis and Teixeires' "The Emerging Democratic Majority", the book that proves that, demographically, Democrats should be on top and soon will be. Josh seems really smitten with Judis and Teixeires' thesis and thinks that Clark is a better fit to the model than Dean.

I'm sensing a pattern here. Marshall is wowed by some intellectual dissertation on the way things should be, yet loses sight of the way things actually are. Neither Pollack or Judis/Texeires may have been wrong in their analysis. But they may be wrong in their fundamental assessment of "what it all means". Ideas can be useful forces in shaping policy and politics. But we shouldn't make the mistake of letting the ideas overrule reality in dictating policy and politics. That's the same mistake the PNAC crowd has been making.

(Caveat: I have read neither of these books. I'm relying primarily on the things that Marshall has said about both of them.)

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