Monday, April 25, 2011

Catch of the Day

Jonathan Chait last week caught the WSJ in a serious example of ideologically-induced innumeracy (the Journal claimed that taking every dollar of rich folks' money wouldn't be enough to close the deficit, which isn't true). That was good -- but now Chait catches Mitch McConnell using it as a standard talking point.

Now, here's the thing. Chait calls his item "The Conservative Misinformation Feedback Loop in Action," which is fair enough. But the stakes here are very different if McConnell (and the WSJ) are simply producing phony talking points intended to dupe the public -- or if McConnell and other elected Republicans actually believe these talking points. If the latter, then you really have to wonder just how deep it goes. That was the real importance of that whole discussion last year about epistemic closure (and, again, I like Chait's name for the phenomenon better): that Republican elites themselves have lost touch with reality thanks to relying only on Fox News, Heritage, AEI, Rush Limbaugh, and the rest of it.

Obviously, even if that's true, it didn't cost Republicans very much if anything at the polls in 2010. But long term, it's awful dangerous to go around believing things that are not true.

At any rate: great catch!


  1. But long term, it's awful dangerous to go around believing things that are not true.

    Nah. Not if a majority of the electorate believes in the same non-truths.

    Think of the worst possible consequences of GOP reality-denial as the party in power: terrorist attacks, war defeats, national default, mass unemployment, economic depression.... All of these things - all of them - can simply be blamed on Democrats. So as long as Rush/Fox continue to tow the line and 50% of the country believes them, there are no negative consequences to believing untrue things.

  2. Maybe there's one in-between measure. How many Republicans are comfortable making the categorical statement that, "47% of Americans don't pay taxes" which, while some might give the stater room, is false. If a large fraction are its hard to believe that they are so far from making that work in their story line even if untruthful. Mystified at this being "conservative" somehow but oh well.

    I have to believe that the statements that cutting taxes doesn't raise the deficit, that very few members of that party are comfortable admitting the ramifications of global warming, or that the consumer is almost always in concert with "business interests".


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