Tuesday, October 07, 2003

The Medieval Presidency

Seen on Daily Kos: A column in the LA Times describes Bush's presidency as "medieval". Not because of its lust for war and conquest, but because it rejects empiricism and rationality in favour of a world-view based entirely on faith:

Incuriosity seems characteristic of the entire Bush administration. More, it seems central to its very operation. The administration seems indifferent to data, impervious to competing viewpoints and ideas. Policy is not adjusted to facts; facts are adjusted to policy. The result is what may be the nation's first medieval presidency - one in which reality is ignored for the administration's own prevailing vision. [...]

[T]he White House medievalists aren't just shading the facts. In actively denying or changing them, they are changing the basis on which government has traditionally been conducted: rationality. There is no respect for facts because there is no respect for empiricism. Instead, the Bush ideologues came to power smug in the security of their own worldview, part of which, frankly, seems to be the belief that it would be soft and unmanly to let facts alter their preconceptions. Like the church confronting Galileo, they aren't about to let reality destroy their cosmology, whether it is a bankrupt plan for pacifying an Iraq that was supposed to welcome us as liberators or a bankrupt fiscal plan that was supposed to jolt the economy to health. [...]

Bush has a religious epistemology. Having devalued the idea of an observable, verifiable reality and having eschewed rational empiricism, he relies on his unalterable faith in himself not just to inform his policies, as all presidents have, but to dictate them.

There's been a lot of jokes about "Faith-based economics" (over tax cuts for the rich), and "Faith-based foreign policy" (over Iraq), but this really puts the finger on it. The central worldview of Bush and his cronies is entirely faith-based; they're hostile or indifferent to facts because they have Revealed Truth. America - the greatest project of the Enlightenment - is being led by people with a pre-Enlightenment mindset. Is this scary or what?

(Oh; the story requires free registration; try "mediajunkie / medijunkie").