Tuesday, September 16, 2014

There's a method to Jindal's madness

I'll join ranks with those of you who want to point and laugh at Gov. Bobby Jindal's latest nonsense.
“The reality is right now we’ve got an administration in the Obama administration that are science deniers when it comes to harnessing America’s energy resources and potential to create good-paying jobs for our economy and for our future,” Jindal said. “Right now we’ve got an administration whose policies are holding our economy hostage.”
I'd also ask you to think about the fact that there is a method to this kind of madness. By accusing the Obama administration of being guilty of things that are true of Republicans, Jindal is engaging in exactly the kind of propaganda that Peter Pomerantsev wrote about recently: "If nothing is true, then anything is possible."

Here's how it works: Republicans are - in fact - science deniers. That is a demonstrably true statement. But now we have Jindal making an argument that sets up the possibility of an equivalency with the Obama administration. What they want the casual observer to hear is: "Democrats accuse Republicans of being science deniers and Republicans accuse Democrats of being science deniers. We report. You decide." There is no truth, there are only politicized arguments.
The point of this new propaganda is not to persuade anyone, but to keep the viewer hooked and distracted...to leave them confused, paranoid, and passive—living in a Kremlin-controlled virtual reality that can no longer be mediated or debated by any appeal to ‘truth.’
Karl Rove, with his addiction to projection, is the one who originally mastered this type of propaganda. Steve Benen captured this very well a few years ago (you can find links to all these examples there).
Rove has spent his professional life engaged in political sleaze, so he's accused Obama of adding "arsenic to the nation's political well." Rove ran a White House that embraced a "permanent campaign," so he's accused the Obama team of embracing a "permanent campaign." Rove embraced the politics of fear, so he's accused Obama of embracing the politics of fear. Rove relied on "pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted " political events, so he's accused Obama of relying on "pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted" political events. Rove looked at every policy issue "from a political perspective," so he's accused Obama of looking at every policy issue "from a political perspective." Rove snubbed news outlets that he considered partisan, so he's accused Obama of snubbing news outlets that he considered partisan. Rove had a habit of burying bad news by releasing it late on Friday afternoons, so he's accused Obama of burying bad news by releasing it late on Friday afternoons. Rove questioned the motives of those with whom he disagreed, so he's accused Obama of questioning the motives of those with whom he disagrees.
And so it should come as no surprise to anyone that Karl Rove is currently spending his money on ads suggesting that Democrats are cutting spending on entitlements.

This is the kind of propaganda environment that Fox News and right wing radio set out to create. Getting the rest of the media to go along with it by threatening to label them as "liberal" if they didn't adhere to the "Republicans say this _____, and Democrats say this ______" framework made their efforts successful.

It is true that in many areas the things we disagree about are simply opinions. But that's not always the case. Sometimes there are things that we know to be true and/or have learned to accept because of what President Obama calls "hard-earned wisdom." Believing otherwise is simply to swallow the propaganda.

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