As readers of this blog know, I’ve been troubled by nagging symptoms of surrealism in everyday life. President Bush fills me with the same uneasiness I feel when confronted with the sort of demented-clown figure that populates horror pictures: Chucky, or Leatherface, or the jaunty paleface who appears in \Friday The 13th,\ I think it is. For me, the unbalanced smile of Bush’s good old boy persona opens a rip in the fabric of reality. I find myself compulsively asking politically astute friends what they think accounts for the grand canyon in perception that has become the salient characteristic of our political culture. As often as I ask, I find myself dissatisfied with the answers.
Today I heard something on NPR that makes me realize that instead of consulting observers of politics, I should have been looking to purveyors of advanced literary theory. I always thought the deconstructionists’ idea that there was no truth, only interpretation, was a tad overstated. But now I surrender. The Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland has released polling results that show that:
“Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.
“Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.”
The report points out that the reason that Bush supporters believe these things, despite ample and irrefutable evidence to the contrary, is that Bush says they are true! Derrida was right! Be afraid, friends. Be very afraid.