|By now, none of this should be the least bit surprising. Virtually everything the Reps accuse the Democrats of doing was always what they either did, had done, or wanted to do themselves. This is just Projection 101, the GOP version of Politics 101.
When Ronald Reagan gave speeches that made many Americans choke up with emotions as their jobs were being shipped overseas, that was a sign of strong leadership (not like Jimmy Carter). And when he didn't know WTF was going on in his own administration that was (a) a sign of strong delegation skills before Iran/Contra (not like Jimmy Carter) and (b) a sure-fire defense against impeachment after Iran/Contra.
And when the media wanted to ask him embarrassing questions--why, it was a sign of how unpatriotic they were!
The Republicans had a long drought after Reagan. Finding another speaker like him proved difficult. And--whaddaya know?--so did the criteria for great leadership! To this very day, I firmly believe that the main reason George H.W. Bush invaded Panama was because he couldn't deliver a sentence, much less a Reaganesque speech. Words failed him in presenting a credible macho leadership pose. And so he had to invade small countries.
This explains why he had to invade Iraq as well. He still couldn't give a decent macho leader speech, so he had to invade another country. But Iraq was no Panama, so he wisely decided to only invade a little bit--kick them out of Kuwait, and chase the troops out into the desert. No sense risking trouble with a full-fledged invasion.
Well, along came a Democrat, name of Bill Clinton, who could talk up a storm, and not only that, he knew stuff, too! Been to Oxford, even. This was pretty hard for the GOP to take.
But then they found their own Bill Clinton, a guy named Newt--who sounded like he could give a spirited speech, intellectual, too. Until you realized he was like the guy yakking about Marshall McLuhan in line behind Woody Allen in Annie Hall. But he was still a great leader anyway, because he constantly told us so. Until he lead the charge to impeach Clinton, and ended up with an egg facial.
Which lead us to Bush II. Still couldn't finish a sentence half the time, but had the good sense not to try all that often. Just gave reporters nick-names, and small scraps of food when they stood on their hind legs.
That worked really well, despite 9/11 and a failed war, until Terri Schiavo, Cindy Sheehan and Hurricane Katrina combined to steal his bag of food scraps, He was never the same.
Finally comes Barack Obama, and now we're firmly 180 degrees from Reagansville. Giving speeches that millions of Americans respond to is now irrelevent to leadership capacity. In fact--even though he's been editor of the Harvard Law Revoew, it really means that he's just a vacuous Hollywood celebrity, like, oh, well, Ronald Reagan back in the 1940s.
Until the GOP comes up with Sarah Palin. Then, suddeny we're back in Reaganland again, where giving a rousing speech means never having to say you're sorry, even if every word you said was a lie.
A reformer with earmarks. Booyah!
This all goes back to the three kinds of reasoning I first talked about in "Terri Schiavo: We're Too Smart!":
There are additional features of sequential thinking, such as:
- Sequential thinkers reason "by tracking the world," recognize regularities in sequences of events, but have no abstract understanding of cause and effect. The world they perceive is a world of appearances that has very little organization to it beyond the recurrence of sequences.
- Linear thinkers understand cause and effect, limited to a one-direction, one-cause/one-effect model. The world they perceive has logical order and structure, but the structure is invariably hierarchical, causality flows top-down, and the world is divided neatly into cause and effect.
- Systematic thinkers understand multi-faceted, multi-linear cause and effect, with mutual cause-and-effect relationships between different elements. The world they perceive is primarily a world of systems and relationships, rather than objects.
- The notion of causality, e.g. that events are caused by necessary and sufficient preconditions, does not play a salient role in the sequential mind. Events transpire, without much interpretation of how they come about. The attention is occupied by one item at a time, and there is little spontaneous effort to relate them to other items or to a general context.
- The sequential thinker is not really aware that the world may appear differently to other people, and he or she has therefore a limited ability to take the perspective of others.
- Sequential thinking involves conceptual relations that "are synthetic without being analytic. They join events together but the union forged is not subject to any conceptual dissection." Because such relations are non-rational, there is nothing rational one can say or do to change them. (Sound familiar?)
- But they can change, based on changing appearances. These relationships "are mutable," they can either be extended, based on "share[d] recognized overlapping events" (connections provided by Limbaugh, O'Lielly, etc.) or changed, when the sequence does not play out as expected. Because it is a pre-logical mode of thought, "the relations of sequential thought engender expectations, but do not create subjective standards of normal or necessary relations between events." People who think this way can be quite unbothered by a lack of consistency. To the contrary, their arbitrary embrace of one contradictory claim after another will seem perfectly normal, while insistence on logical consistency--bracketing Palin's speechifying the same way as Obama's, for example--can seem arbitrary and unfair to them.
So, welcome to the funhouse world of sequential thinking folks! This is the dreamworld terrain on which the GOP intends to fight this campaign. Indweed, it's dreamworld terrain on which they've been fighting pretty much since 1929, with a bit of a brief interlude during the Eisenhower years. This is where the GOP--on a national level, at least--has virtually always lived. It's their home turf. They know every nook and crannie.
And, like any dreamworld, things turn into their exact opposites in the twinkling of an eye. Demogogery is eloquence. Truth is lies. The past is the future. Corruption is reform. Authoritarianism is libertarianism.
You have been warned. No questions asked. Or answered.