Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Josh Marshall has been all over the Al-Qaqaa story in the past few days, and he’s done an amazing job. He’s especially delightful on the sorry (if ancillary) spectacle of CNN getting rolled by Drudge. (Remind me again why any “news” organization runs with material from Sludge?) In fact, his stuff has been so good that I didn’t think I needed to weigh in at all, since I don’t think I have too many readers who don’t already know about TPM.
But lately, the flaws in Josh’s reality-based method have become all too apparent. Marshall is alternately bewildered, outraged, and bemused by the Bush Administration’s feverish series of spins on the weapons cache: first it was Administration officials saying “they cannot explain why the explosives were not safeguarded,” then it was the Iraqis’ fault for not guarding them (damn, they let us down again), then it was that the explosives were not a “proliferation risk” (presumably because they’ve already proliferated?), then it was that the White House didn’t know about Al-Qaqaa until October 15 (oh, that’s an airtight defense right there), then it was that the weapons aren’t such a big deal because they represent only a tiny fraction of all the explosives in Iraq (I’d hate to have to write that letter home to the families-- “we regret to inform you . . . but there is some consolation in knowing that your son or daughter was killed by only a tiny fraction of all the explosives in Iraq"), and most recently it’s that the weapons were already gone when we got there (except that they weren’t).
And Josh thinks that all this is further evidence of the Bush junta’s characteristically frantic lying and criminal incompetence.
But that just shows you why reality-based reporting is inadequate in situations like this, in which the Bush Administration is merely sound asleep and dreaming. As Freud famously pointed out, the unconscious is indiscriminate in such matters: in the dream-based community, one can say, “the kettle I borrowed from you was fine when I used it; besides, the holes were already there when I borrowed it; and what’s more, I never borrowed a kettle from you,” and there is no contradiction. Thus: I don’t know how the RDX and the HMX got out of the kettle, they’re not that important anyway, it was your fault for not putting a lid on the stuff, only a little bit leaked out, and the kettle didn’t have any RDX or HMX in it when you gave it to me.
Which is why, in the end, reality-based reporting needs to be supplemented by outlandish theoretical speculation.