The Reality Based Community Is Officially Dead

First I will cede putting my own spin on the Bush-era mantra of progressive bloggers “proud member of the reality based community,” and let Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall explain the origins of the term.

“Reality-based” was one of the Democrats’ great touchstone phrases of the Bush years. And like so many self-identifications it started off as derision. The phrase came from this passage in a 2004 article by Ron Suskind in the New York Times.

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.”

The phrase, grabbed from the Bushies and latched on to by progressives explained so much about the Bush White House mentality, that facts and realities weren’t “stubborn things” but fairly soft impediments in the way of willful self-assertion.

Well today President Obama’s chief strategist signaled that they’re not going to let a little thing like “reality” get in the way of creating a new Obama narrative. From Politico:

Are Americans better off today than they were four years ago?

That’s the question Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace immediately posed to President Barack Obama’s Senior Adviser David Axelrod, who didn’t quite answer directly.

“We’re in a better position than we were four years ago.” Axelrod said, citing, for example, how the nation has experienced 29 straight months of jobs growth.

He acknowledged that the nation’s economy isn’t where Obama would like it to be, but that he inherited an extremely dire situation.

Apparently Barack Obama saved the country, reduced deficits, and created more jobs than any other President, or at least that’s the kind of case they’re going to make for a second Obama term – facts be damned. It you are noticing that this sounds suspiciously like the Rove philosophy previously discussed then give yourself a gold star. The cult of Obama runs deep and they invent their own reality constantly.

This obviously leaves members of the “reality based community” grasping at straws of truth – something that is in short supply from the Obama camp, and it’s only going to get worse. If they’re to support Obama (which they surely will) they’re going to have to take a big bite of the “Obama reality” and start ignoring things like official government statistics and history.

The reason why is because Obama and his crew believe their own hype. They’re every bit as committed to their alternate reality as they were throughout the last 3 1/2 years. As “reality based” blogger, digby, writes earlier this year in “So much for the reality based community” about Obama’s over-inflation of the challenges they faced:

I think they really believe this — have believed it since the 2008 campaign and it’s their Achilles heel. This overconfidence in the face of am extremely close primary campaign and now a very mixed record is a characteristic of the team and I don’t think it’s served them well. It’s one thing to believe in your own abilities and be willing to shut out criticism. I’m sure that’s necessary to reach these exalted positions of power. But it’s also clear from all the evidence that’s come out about the inner working of the administration (and the results, I’m afraid) that it’s weakened them strategically against the Republicans.

The only good news for Obama is that Rove and Bush were able to create the reality of his re-election when Democrats were sure he couldn’t be re-elected. Republicans remember that too, so we have no illusion that an unpopular president couldn’t get re-elected. We all know it could realistically could happen, so we’re determined to make sure that it doesn’t happen.

That’s reality.

But he's so likeable
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  • TomInCali

    Apparently Barack Obama saved the country, reduced deficits, and created
    more jobs than any other President, or at least that’s the kind of case
    they’re going to make for a second Obama term – facts be damned.

    That’s an interesting supposition you make. Especially when accompanied by zero citations of anyone saying this. Apparently you have not yet grasped the meaning of “fact”. Or “reality”. But you do know “strawman” exceedingly well.

    • herddog505

      “It’s safe to say we have stepped back from the brink, that there is some calm that didn’t exist before,” Obama told donors and celebrities at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. He said the stimulus bill that Congress passed three months ago is starting to improve the economy.

      At a pair of fundraisers in Austin, Texas, Tuesday night, a confident Barack Obama touted accomplishments made under his watch, and declared, “We saved the country from a Great Depression.”

      [DEAN] REYNOLDS [OF CBS]: Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and other critics have argued the bailout was unnecessary, and that the regular bankruptcy process would have made GM and Chrysler stronger companies.
      REYNOLDS TO AKERSON: Would that have happened?

      [GM CEO DANIEL AKERSON]: Not in my opinion, and it would have been in bankruptcy for years, and I think you could have written off this company, this industry, and this country.

      Willie Geist, MSNBC: What would you say to that same person that said, ‘Well, that hasn’t worked for four years. I haven’t had the job over time, it’s time for a change.’

      Stephanie Cutter, Obama deputy campaign manager: Well, I think that worker probably has a good understanding of what’s happened over the past four years in terms of the president coming in and seeing 800,000 jobs lost on the day that the president was being sworn in, and seeing the president moving pretty quickly to stem the losses, to turn the economy around, and over the past, you know, 27 months we’ve created 4.5 million private sector jobs. That’s more jobs than in the Bush recovery, in the Reagan recovery, there’s obviously more we need to do, and as I said to Mika at the at beginning of the program, I think that unemployed worker probably sees one person in this race trying to move the country forward and that’s the president.

      Obama Reduced Taxes, Spending and Deficits – Romney Refuted By Facts

      • TomInCali

        Congratulations. You found quotes that are not what Johnson said.

        • herddog505

          I suppose that all depends on what the meaning of “is” is, eh?

    • jim_m

      Sure tom. You can go keep your head in the sand. It really isn’t very hard to find the abundant evidence that obama is the worst president in history. What obama calls a recovery most of us would call a recession.

      New income data from the Census Bureau reveal what a great job Barack Obama has done for the middle class as President. During his entire tenure in the oval office, median household income has declined by 7.3%.

      In January, 2009, the month he entered office, median household income was $54,983. By June, 2012, it had spiraled down to $50,964. That’s a loss of $4,019 per family, the equivalent of losing a little less than one month’s income a year, every year. And on our current course that is only going to get worse not better…

      Even if you start from when the recession ended in June, 2009, the decline since then has been greater than it was during the recession. Three years into the Obama recovery, median family income had declined nearly 5% by June, 2012 as compared to June, 2009. That is nearly twice the decline of 2.6% that occurred during the recession from December, 2007 until June, 2009. As the Wall Street Journal summarized in its August 25-26 weekend edition, “For household income, in other words, the Obama recovery has been worse than the Bush recession.”

      …Obama has failed the poor as well as the middle class. Last year,
      the Census Bureau reported more Americans in poverty than ever before in the more than 50 years that Census has been tracking poverty. Now The Huffington Post reports that the poverty rate is on track to rise to the
      highest level since 1965, before the War on Poverty began. A July 22
      story by Hope Yen reports that when the new poverty rates are released
      in September, “even a 0.1 percentage point increase would put poverty at
      the highest level since 1965.”

      Labor participation rate is at a 30 year low. obama has rolled the economy back by 30 to 45 years. This is not Bush’s fault. It is the fault of the ignorant obama socialist policies that made everything worse. His predictions of how his policies would help have all been proven wrong.

      • TomInCali

        Except unfortunately for you, it is not a recession. Once again, those pesky things like facts get in the way. You can’t just point out bad things about the economy and magically proclaim “recession”! Words have actual meanings.

        • cpaforerp

          Yes Tom is right. We are in another “Recovery Summer.” Thanks for letting us know how great things are!

        • Walter_Cronanty

          Good, lord, Tom. I wouldn’t publicize the fact that we’re not in a recession. As jim m cited above: “For household income, in other words, the Obama recovery has been worse than the Bush recession.”

          • It’s the new normal. Prices are up, incomes are down, and there’s no recovery. They’ll just say there is. Don’t you feel happy now your chocolate ration’s been increased to 25 grams from 30?

          • TomInCali

            I wasn’t publicizing anything. I was correcting a lie.

          • 914

            I saw no apology??

        • retired.military

          We may not be in a recession but we are in the worst recovery since the great depression.

  • razorclams

    When McConnell , Canter Bonhner and the rest what nothing else than to get rid of Obama and not help the country…that is treason. The Republicans should all be drawn and quartered.

    • cpaforerp


      You liberals are so cute when you get silly. First, it “Cantor” not “Canter.” Next, I do not remember you complaining when the Democrats did all they could do to get rid of Bush and “not help the country.” Finally, President Clinton was able to accomplish things when he had a Republican House and Senate (Welfare reform ring a bell?) and Ronald Reagan was able to accomplish things with a Democratic House (always) and Democratic Senate (sometimes). That is called “leadership.” Mr. Obama does not have that quality.

      • razorclams

        Thanks for the patronizing comment cpa. Your a cutey too. Are you gay?
        Anyway the Democrats should have gotten rid of the 60 vote rule in the senate during Obama’s first two years. It should have been a majority vote to pass all laws. They thought that they could work with the RepubliCons.
        Cantor-Spalntor who cares. The guy is a waste of taxpayer dollars, as are the other do-nothing RepubliCons in the House.
        Leadership? Where was their leadership? We don’t live in a dictatorship. There are three branches of government. Checks and balances. Did you take civics in school? Oh that’s right, after Reagan, to dumb down the people they cut that out. Don’t want a politically aware population you know.

        • Walter_Cronanty

          Of what relevance is cpaforerp’s sexual orientation?
          Get rid of the 60 vote rule? I’m not for it, but if the Rs take the Senate this election, maybe you can convince me..
          As far as dumbing people down, you libs have been in charge of education for years – and yes, you’re right. You’ve dumbed the populace down.

        • cpaforerp


          “Your a cutey too. Are you gay?” Why are you asking? Trolling?
          I’m not, but “not that there is anything wrong with that.”

          I knew liberals were closet homophobes. You are probably racist and anti-semitic as well.

          “They thought that they could work with the RepubliCons”
          President Obama: “I won.”

          “Do nothing RepubliCons in the House” – The House has passed a budget. The Democratic Senate? Not so much.

          I was in grade school and high school during the Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, and Ford administrations. I was in College during the Carter administration, and graduate school during the early Reagan administration. You are right, they did not teach me “civics” while I was getting a masters in accounting. Are you suggesting that they should? Personally, I blame Carter.

          “Leadership? Where was their leadership? We don’t live in a dictatorship. There are three branches of government.”

          As I mentioned, Clinton and Reagan worked with a Legislative branch (one of the “three”) that was controlled by the other party. So did George H.W. Bush. So did George W. Bush (last two years in office). I don’t recall any of them whining. Why is this president whining?

          • “Why is this president whining?”

            Because he’s not being treated the way he’s supposed to be treated, as a godlike being who’s every whim is law.

            Poor sap.

    • LiberalNightmare
  • herddog505

    ‘But how can you control matter?’ he burst out. ‘You don’t even control the climate or the law of gravity. And there are disease, pain, death—-‘

    O’Brien silenced him by a movement of his hand. ‘We control matter because we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull. You will learn by degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation–anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wish to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You must get rid of those nineteenth-century ideas about the laws of Nature. We make the laws of nature.’

    ‘But you do not! You are not even masters of this planet. What about Eurasia and Eastasia? You have not conquered them yet.’

    ‘Unimportant. We shall conquer them when it suits us. And if we did not, what difference would it make? We can shut them out of existence. Oceania is the world.’

    George Orwell

    In fairness, I suggest that all people engage in this sort of mental dishonesty to some extent: we all make exceptions to the “rules” we have about how the world should be. Politicians are especially prone to it because their election often depends on convincing people that reality ISN’T.

  • GarandFan

    “…citing, for example, how the nation has experienced 29 straight months of jobs growth.”

    Yeah Davey, “job growth”. Try multiplying 29 months times 150k, the number of NEW people entering the workforce for the first time. Your “job growth” has barely covered that over those 29 months. And the U6 number is north of 15%.

    One thing you can say for AxelTurf, he never runs out of excuses.

  • jim_m

    David Freddoso: “That’s odd. Today’s DNC message is that we are better off than 4yrs ago and it’s Bush’s fault.”

    Yep the left is a little conflicted. And really, really stupid.

  • Commander_Chico_Cognoscente

    Yes, I agree. I’ve read that the Obama campaign wants to follow Rove’s 2004 playbook: frame their opponent as an out-of-touch Thurston Howell III and relentlessly mock him rather than run on their own weak record.

    • Well, that’s understandable. They don’t WANT to run on their record. And I can’t say I blame them.

  • razorclams

    The giddy, money-drenched, choreographed carnival in Tampa and the one coming up in Charlotte divert us from the real world—the one steadily collapsing around us. The glitz and propaganda, the ridiculous obsessions imparted by our electronic hallucinations, and the spectacles that pass for political participation mask the deadly ecological assault by the corporate state. The worse it gets the more we retreat into self-delusion. We convince ourselves that global warming does not exist. Or we concede that it exists but insist that we can adapt. Both responses satisfy our mania for eternal optimism and our reckless pursuit of personal comfort. In America, when reality is distasteful we ignore it. But reality will soon descend like the Furies to shatter our complacency and finally our lives. We, as a species, may be doomed. And this is a bitter, bitter fact for a father to digest.

    • “We, as a species, may be doomed.”

      Not any time soon, from my perspective.

    • 914

      “We, as a species, may be doomed.”

      That species chic was hot! Thanks!!

  • ackwired

    As you point out, it is very difficult to find any difference between these two political parties.

    • Vagabond661

      Then vote for Romney…I mean if there is no difference give someone else a turn at bat.

      • ackwired

        LOL…I like your underlying theory…”give someone else a turn at bat.” When I think about it I realize that we have given only two parites a turn at bat, and this is where they have gotten us. They each keep striking out and blaming the other for the inning being over and no runs have been scored. They now have us about two years away from a currency collapse. Obama has no plan to prevent it. Romney wants to return to Reagonomics (raise military spending, lower taxes, borrow the difference) which will hasten the collapse. If I am going to vote to give someone else a turn at bat, I am going to look for someone who can hit the ball.

        • Vagabond661

          That’s fine. free country still…kinda. Unfortunately the candidate you will vote for won’t get off the bench.

          • ackwired

            LOL…yes, I’m afraid that you are right about that. But I think that our country’s only hope is to break the hold that the duopoly has on the political process. That only happens when enough people stand up and demand it.

          • werewife

            I am hoping it will happen when one of the old parties crashes and burns for good, as did the Whigs. Preferably the Democrats. A country in which the debate is between the Republicans and the Libertarians could possibly come back from the cliff.

          • ackwired

            Possibly. I am not convinced that the two party system serves us well. For example, with the current system of campaign financing, the two parties are competing for the corporate money to finance their campaigns. As a result they both have ended up being virtually owned by them. If the Libertarians replaced either of the two primary parties, I suspect that they would just end up replacing them at the corporate teat. I’m not sure that this pattern can be broken unless we get to a multi-party system.

      • razorclams

        Vote for Romney and flush the US down the toilet. Where is God in that?

        • Vagabond661

          Where is the logic in that?

  • john1v6

    I thought I read somewhere that “reality-based community” was intended as a derisive contrast to the “faith-based community.”

    Given the Left’s pervasive group-think, I prefer Ace’s inversion, the “community-based reality.”

    • That’s what it’s been. They will emphatically deny any reality that doesn’t suit them, and form a consensual one to replace it.

  • Pingback: Ed Driscoll » The Escape into Progressive Fantasyland, Explored in both Macro and Micro Forms()

  • 914

    Shouldn’t that cue ball be red?

  • razorclams

    Romney “let Detroit go bankrupt!”
    Last month 2012, July, it was reported that all car manufacturers made over 15% or GREATER in profit.
    Dec 2008
    Bush and his mob are losing over 800,000 jobs per month over the last 6 months.
    Barack Obama’s administration has had 29 straight months of job growth
    2003-20010 The US is bogged down in Iraq spending 12 billion dolars per month.
    2012 we are not in Iraq anymore
    HELL YES!!!!!

    • herddog505

      BLS data do not appear to bear out the claim that we lost 800k jobs / month at any point during Bush’s presidency. The unemployment level in June, 2008 was 8,578,000. In December, 2008, it was 11,299,000, for a net loss of 2,721,000 or 453,500 / month.

      I do not mean to suggest that things were just lovely in late 2008, merely that the 800k number doesn’t seem factual.

      As for other things (Jan 2009 vs present):

      UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: 7.3 vs 8.3 (as of Jul 2012)

      LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE: 65.7 vs 63.7 (as of Jul 2012)

      GASOLINE PRICE / GALLON: 1.890 vs 3.903 (1)

      US NATIONAL DEBT: $10.6T vs $15.9T (as of Jul 2012) (2)


      Across the country, in almost every demographic, Americans earn less today than they did in June 2009, when the recovery technically started. As of June, the median household income for all Americans was $50,964, or 4.8 percent lower than its level three years earlier, when the inflation-adjusted median income was $53,508.

      The decline looks even worse when comparing today’s incomes to those when the recession began in December 2007. Then, the median household income was $54,916, meaning that incomes have fallen 7.2 percent since the economy last peaked. (3)

      FOOD STAMP PARTICIPATION: 31,983,716 vs 46,670,373 (as of Jun 2012) (4)

      But, yeah: we’re out of Iraq. On Bush’s schedule.




      • razorclams

        Unemployment rate was over 10% at the end of Bush’s reign
        The fall in yearly wages was a result of Bush’s policies
        You must be getting your “facts” from the Heritage Foundation.
        The month Obama got in the US lost 750,000 to 800,000 jobs.
        29 months of jobs growth is better than that right? Or is that not also a fact.?
        Iraq and Bush’s schedule? What the hell were we doing there in the first place…making up fo Daddy Bush.
        Remember what Reagan and Cheney have said about debt…they don’t matter.

        • herddog505

          Excepting the quote from the NYT economics blog, my facts are from BLS and other government sources, and I have provided links.
          Unemployment did not go above 7.8% during Bush’s presidency, and in fact has only reached 10.0% once: in October, 2009. That is, unless you are talking U-6 data.

          As for job growth, yes: any progress is better than none, and we were certainly getting clobbered in late 2008. However, I note a few things about the “job growth” claim:

          1. The unemployment rate is affected by the size of the labor force; as demonstrated above, the labor force participation rate has shrunk considerably under Barry’s watch. People not looking for work (i.e. not participating) are not counted as “unemployed”, which is a very handy thing for politicians;

          2. Due to population growth, it is possible to create jobs and still have more people, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage, who are unemployed. This is what we’ve seen over the past four years: Barry has “created” jobs, but not at a rate sufficient to keep up with population growth, and hence the unemployment rate is higher now than in Jan 2009;

          3. According to BLS, the total non-farm employment in Jan 2009 was 133,561,000. As of July of this year, it was 133,245,000, for a net loss of 316,000. Some job growth. I thought we’d “saved or created” something like 4.5 million jobs. Where are they?

          Finally, “It’s All Bush’s Fault!”(TM) has worn pretty thin. First of all, as jim_m quotes above, the idea that “we are better off than 4yrs ago and it’s Bush’s fault” is laughable. More importantly, I thought Barry was elected on the idea that he would fix things, not spend his time complaining about how gosh-darned bad they are because of what somebody else did.

          • razorclams

            laughable? That’s making me cry.
            It is deffintly the loss of revenue of the Bush tax cuts, the unpaid for wars that he started (12 billion a month X 12X 8years. All borrowed money for our grandchildren to pay….what planet do you live on herrdog?

          • herddog505

            By your figures, Bush’s wars (approved by the Congress, by the way) cost the country $1.15T. This is the amount of money Barry borrows in roughly a year. As you say, all money for our grandchildren to pay.

            But that’s really beside the point, isn’t it? If you are better off than you were four years ago (I actually am, thank heavens), then I congratulate you. However, the numbers really don’t support the idea that many other people are. Further, I thought that Barry took the job on the promise that he would fix our fiscal problems, not make them worse. Finally, if we ARE better off, then how is it Bush’s fault?

          • razorclams

            When you have Mitch the Bitch McConnell saying that his priority was to make Obama a one term President…’on herdog
            McConnell and the rest did a record fillibuster (about 180 and counting?) This guy put party before country and should be court martialed and sent to Gitmo for treason.
            He and Boner in the house . “Barry” has done more for this country with as little help from the RepubliCons and started with the worst Depression than any President since 1792.
            He will go down as one of our GREATEST PRESIDENTS EVER!
            The RepubliCons are good for nobody but millionaires and billionaires.
            I love Obama care as my wife has a brain tumor and now I know she can’t be kicked off my insurance as our bills approach 1 million dollars.
            Do you live with that herddog? Maybe you do.
            My 23 year daughter is on MY insurance as she works towards her PHD in nuclear medicine.
            Thank God for Obamacare because Romney don’t care.