I have been thinking a lot recently about a 2004 New York Times Magazine piece by Ron Suskind about the President George W. Bush’s foreign policy and their worldview. In the piece, an unnamed Bush aide, made a comment to Suskind that he characterized this way:
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.’ […] ‘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’
While Donald Trump often derides George W. Bush and especially his foreign policy, he shares this feature with him — he believes in shaping his own reality. A story in the Washington Post today by Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker capture this worldview succinctly:
People close to Trump, many speaking anonymously to share candid discussions and impressions, say the president’s inability to wholly address the crisis is due to his almost pathological unwillingness to admit error; a positive feedback loop of overly rosy assessments and data from advisers and Fox News; and a penchant for magical thinking that prevented him from fully engaging with the pandemic.
Magical thinking is a good description for Trump’s insane pronouncements about the Coronavirus — he have a handle on it, it will soon be going away, we have conquered it, etc. But this disease doesn’t begin and end with Trump, it’s a national affliction and disgrace. Read what Axios.com, that oracle of obviousness, has to say about the recent outbreak of COVID-19 on the Miami Marlins baseball team:
It’s a bad sign for baseball moving forward. But most importantly, it’s a bad sign for just about everything in our daily lives — showing that something approaching normal can’t simply be willed into existence.
That quote from Karl Rove keeps ringing in my ears “when we act, we create our own reality.” There are people on this planet, most of them living in this country, who truly believe that they have become outrageously wealthy and powerful purely out of their own greatness, than they can do no wrong. To these people, their inner voice is always saying “if you build it, they will come.”
Well, yes, they will come … they will join a death cult of stupidity and insanity, one where we are needlessly sending people to emergency rooms and to their deaths — and destroying any hope of an economic rebound in the near future — simply because a certain self-satisfied, self-glorifying segment of our culture cannot let go of their magical thinking.
Yes, Mr. Rove, we are indeed history’s actors. We are acting to destroy a country 244 years in the making in a manner of months, because we lack the humility to do what should be the easiest thing any leader can do: face reality.