Thursday, October 21

Our Reality-Based Profession Doomed to Obsolence?

Salon interviews Ron Suskind, author of that remarkable piece in the Times magazine, Without a Doubt, which documents

the extraordinary degree to which Bush and his senior aides are "faith based" in their decision making, and disdain those who are "reality based."

In the Bush White House, Suskind writes,

open dialogue, based on facts, is not seen as something of inherent value. It may, in fact, create doubt, which undercuts faith. It could result in a loss of confidence in the decision-maker and, just as important, by the decision-maker. Nothing could be more vital, whether staying on message with the voters or the terrorists or a California congressman in a meeting about one of the world's most nagging problems. As Bush himself has said any number of times on the campaign trail, "By remaining resolute and firm and strong, this world will be peaceful."

Isn't that last statement a classic misplaced modifier? Isn't it we who must remain resolute so that the world will be peaceful? Or is this a chorus of "We are the World"?

At any rate, if it does not lead to the fall of civilization, this trend does not bode well for my or my colleagues' professional futures--as we were just debating in haggling over our commentary for the week. Listen to what one senior Bush aide tells Suskind:

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."

Good lord. The sinister, apocalypic implications of that analysis aside, you want to ask, Is is the organizational philosophy of the "CEO president"? Sell! Sell! Imagine what would happen if this attitude were to spreak through the ISO 9000 community ...

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