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November 02, 2005

An Insult to Count Potemkin

To say that whatever is good about the Bush administration's public image is the result of the tireless construction of Potemkin villages by the press corps would be an insult to Count Potemkin.

Paul Krugman writes:

Ending the Fraudulence: Let me be frank: it has been a long political nightmare.... [W]e realized early on that this administration was cynical, dishonest and incompetent, but spent a long time unable to get others to see the obvious. For others - above all, of course, those Americans risking their lives in a war whose real rationale has never been explained - the nightmare has been all too concrete.... What do I mean by essential fraudulence? Basically, I mean the way an administration with an almost unbroken record of policy failure has nonetheless achieved political dominance through a carefully cultivated set of myths.

The record of policy failure is truly remarkable. It sometimes seems as if President Bush and Mr. Cheney are Midases in reverse: everything they touch - from Iraq reconstruction to hurricane relief, from prescription drug coverage to the pursuit of Osama - turns to crud. Even the few apparent successes turn out to contain failures at their core: for example, real G.D.P. may be up, but real wages are down.... [T]his administration's political triumphs have never been based on its real-world achievements... [but] on myths: the myth of presidential leadership, the ugly myth that the administration is patriotic while its critics are not. Take away those myths, and the administration has nothing left....

[T]he Bush administration has lost the myths that sustained its mojo, and with them much of its power to do harm. But the nightmare won't be fully over until... politicians... admit that they were misled... news media... face up to their role in allowing incompetents to pose as leaders and political apparatchiks to pose as patriots.... [T]he long nightmare won't really be over until journalists ask themselves: what did we know, when did we know it, and why didn't we tell the public?

Posted by DeLong at November 2, 2005 09:59 AM