Much has been made of this U.S. election post-mortem piece where the Romney campaign basically acknowledges they made up their own reality and were then completely sideswiped by the actual results. They didn’t what the polling was saying, so they “fixed” the results:
As a result, they believed the public/media polls were skewed – they thought those polls oversampled Democrats and didn’t reflect Republican enthusiasm. They based their own internal polls on turnout levels more favorable to Romney. That was a grave miscalculation, as they would see on election night.
“That was a grave miscalculation, as they would see on election night” must be the understatement of the year. Much of the post-election discussion attributes this bubble-building to the “Tea Party Effect” and the “conservative entertainment complex”. David Frum gives a remarkable appearance here on this:
As he says towards the end of the video:
I believe the Republican Party is a party of followership. The problem with the Republican leaders is that they’re cowards….The real locus of the problem is the Republican activist base and the Republican donor base. They went apocalyptic over the past four years. And that was exploited by a lot of people in the conservative world. I won’t soon forget the lupine smile that played over the head of a major conservative institution when he told me that our donors think the apocalypse has arrived. Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex….Because the followers, the donors and the activists are so mistaken about the nature of the problems the country faces
Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter and Michelle Malkin don’t make as much money when the “real Americans”‘ aren’t in a boiling froth. So they make sure the flames are perpetually fanned…and when you don’t have a real issue you make one up. Etc.
So, they say, we need to confront the extremists in our ranks and return to empiricism and so on and so forth. Well, good luck with that. Even if you do expunge the Tea Party…well, let’s just say your problems with reality run deeper. As much as Mr. Frum seems grounded and sensible now, remember back in the days…
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn’t like about Bush’s former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House’s displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend — but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.
The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
We all know how Bush’s reality making efforts ended up. Ultimately I think of David Frum as the Mikhail Gorbachev of the GOP: The very reforms he advocates will lead to the Party collapsing on itself. The inherent contradictions of conservatism (nyuck) and the more awkward recent attempts to meld [some] of the Bible with [some] of the works of Ayn Rand have caught up with them.
Before we get smug, this is not uniquely a Republican problem. Up here, for example, there are now some who have whipped themselves up into a froth believing foreign-funding of charities is some sort of existential threat, or that the populace is about to rise up in rebellion over bike lanes or chicken coops. Small potatoes as constructed realities go to be sure, but every bit an impediment to their ambitions.
Actually…no, let’s be smug.