Drinking the Kool-Aid
Paul Krugman may be America's best political commentator. This is one economist whose grasp of the situation goes well beyond the numbers -- as in this column on Iraq:
On Sunday, a celebrating crowd gathered around a burning U.S. armored vehicle. Then a helicopter opened fire; a child and a journalist for an Arabic TV news channel were among those killed. Later, the channel repeatedly showed the journalist doubling over and screaming, "I'm dying; I'm dying."
Such scenes, which enlarge the ranks of our enemies by making America look both weak and brutal, are inevitable in the guerrilla war President Bush got us into. Osama bin Laden must be smiling.
U.S. news organizations are under constant pressure to report good news from Iraq. In fact, as a Newsweek headline puts it, "It's worse than you think." Attacks on coalition forces are intensifying and getting more effective; no-go zones, which the military prefers to call "insurgent enclaves," are spreading - even in Baghdad. We're losing ground.
And the losses aren't only in Iraq. Al Qaeda has regrouped. The invasion of Iraq, intended to demonstrate American power, has done just the opposite: nasty regimes around the world feel empowered now that our forces are bogged down. When a Times reporter asked Mr. Bush about North Korea's ongoing nuclear program, "he opened his palms and shrugged."
Yet many voters still believe that Mr. Bush is doing a good job protecting America.
The question is, why do they persist in believing this despite mounting evidence to the contrary? Admittedly, the compliant "news" media don't help matters by reducing every issue to "he said/he said" rather than examining the facts and calling attention to the falsehoods -- but the truth really is out there and it's not that hard to find. Yet a substantial number of people just drink the Kool-Aid -- they dutifully accept the White House's latest talking points as gospel. Why?
The answer may be found in a comment from my "significant other," who moonlights teaching English at the junior-college level. Mike says he has to teach his students to think. Which leads me to wonder: How many students never encounter an instructor like Mike? And how much can he -- and other dedicated instructors like him -- accomplish in one or two semesters?