"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." -- John Adams, 'Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials,' December 1770
"I am conscious of the world as consisting of multiple realities. As I move from one reality to another, I experience the transition as a kind of shock." -- Peter L. Berger & Thomas Luckmann, 'The Social Construction of Reality,' 1966
Shock may best describe the Chicago Cabal's reaction to recent events as the narratives these political operatives spent a lifetime constructing lie in tatters, revealing an ugly reality long-held at bay. While Barack Obama's presidency may yet recover--especially if the White House can win back the mainstream media's active support--the ability to frame, spin, distract, blame, deny, distort, demonize, and prevaricate on any issue unchallenged has been compromised. As the president continues to do everything but his job, more and more mainstream journalists are finally starting to do theirs.
That it has taken a trifecta of scandals to awaken the minions of the press to their duty speaks volumes on how successfully prevailing narratives define what the public accepts as truth. Only the dogged pursuit of the Benghazi, IRS, and AP stories by alternative media forced the legacy press to stop averting its eyes. As the administration's incoherent responses continue to undermine its own credibility, now is a good time to step back and look at the big picture.
What is reality?
The idea that facts are just a social construct and that reality is malleable is a fundamental tenet of postmodern thought. While this obscurantist rejection of objective truth and the Enlightenment virtue of reason was originally confined to literature, architecture, and the arts, since reaching its apex in the middle of the last century it has crossed over into politics. The driving force for that shift was an influential 1966 treatise, The Social Construction of Reality by sociology professors Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, which described the creation of "symbolic universes" used to manage a society's accepted perceptions of truth and knowledge.
In particular, Berger and Luckmann's theory of "Universe-maintenance" has served as a template for much of the modern progressive movement. It purports to describe how elites legitimize the institutional structures whereby they "construct" the reality they feed into the minds of non-elites. Contra John Adams's admonition, Berger and Luckmann maintained that facts have meaning only within the context of the prevailing narrative, which allows "truth" to be manipulated to serve a larger purpose. In the hands of progressive politicians, that purpose became the empowerment of a benevolent elite tasked with ushering in an age of peace, equality, prosperity, and social justice.
This all may sound like academic gobbledygook, but it is a mistake to believe that these ideas are powerless. All it took was for a generation surreptitiously indoctrinated into these notions to come of age for the masters of narrative creation to get their hands on the levers of power. The end result? Through a confluence of brilliant marketing, appeals to right past racial wrongs, a global financial catastrophe, and a political backlash against a prior failed presidency, we handed the most powerful office in the world to an inexperienced, untested, unvetted community organizer trained, mentored, and advised by a cabal of socialist agitators.
That is why we've got a president who runs his administration not by practicing chief executive skills he never acquired, but by doing the one thing he knows how to do best - ceaselessly campaign around the country while empowering his surrogates to craft a stream of narratives to paper over his failures.
The problem is, these surrogates have asked the American people to accept so many tall tales that we can't keep track of them anymore. To wit: that wealth is created by spending, that money is created by printing, that our inalienable rights include a long list of free stuff, that the Arab Spring will bring peace and democracy, that this is the most transparent administration in history, that government "investment" can usher in a new age of energy, that a reduction in the official unemployment rate is good news even though that's only so because more people have stopped looking for work, and that this is the worst economic recovery in American history because ... well, it's Bush's fault!
To cap it all off, the cognitive dissonance created by clashing narratives that the president is simultaneously so wise and powerful he can and should rule by executive action, yet has no knowledge or control of his subordinate agencies, has made Universe-maintenance-as-usual an impossible task.
And hence, the narratives implode and objective reality breaks through. At least for a while. Will the White House be able to put the Humpty Dumpty press corps back together again? We'll find out soon if journalists who get thrills up their legs resume taking the president at his word, singing hosannas to hope and change. If the American people let them get away with it, we will deserve our fates.