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.