“If you feel it, it is true”

John Oliver reviewed the Republican convention and was astounded, as many of us were, at how the party has entered into a fact-free world. It recalls how a member of the Bush administration (suspected to be Karl Rove) derided those of us he described as being part of the “reality-based community”, saying “That’s not the way the world really works anymore, We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality”. Of course that was rubbish then and this belief that raw power could achieve anything led to hubris on an enormous scale and has got the nation stuck in one unwinnable war after another,

But the Republican party now has greatly exceeded even that grandiose ambition that power was all you needed and now seems to believe that anything they feel or want to believe is as much of a fact as anything else.


  1. says

    Wait -- that journalist was trying to establish truths with Newt Gingrich?? LOL! If Newt told me that it was raining, I’d look out the window, then ask him “where are you talking about?”

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    … Bush advisor Karl Rove derided those of us he described as being part of the “reality-based community”…

    So far as I can find out with a quick search, reporter Ron Suskind has never identified the person who gave him that quotation.

    Especially given the nature of this post, and what [whoever] said, it seems particularly important to establish the factuality of this rumor (others have named Cheney aide Scooter Libby, f’rinstance), wouldn’t you think?

  3. robro says

    My dad was fond of telling us that Hitler said something along the lines “If you tell a lie often enough and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” I don’t know if Hitler actually said or wrote that, and a similar quote is attributed to Goebbels, but the basic idea has been a tool of demagogues for ages.

  4. Mano Singham says

    Pierce @#2,

    You are right, Rove was not directly fingered as the source of that quote.

  5. Siobhan says

    Marcus actually recommended a text to me on authoritarians in which one of the defining attributes explored is a propensity for fear. How anybody can look at the RNC and say “nah, not fascism,” is beyond me.

  6. says

    If these people really think that feelings outrank objective facts, then can’t they just go home and pretend that they’ve won? There’s no need for them to actually win, is there? There’s no need for them to institute policies that affect other people when they can just pretend that such policies are in place.

    They want their own reality and I’d be fine with giving it to them if only they’ll keep their grubby hands off of the one I have to live in.

  7. sonofrojblake says

    Funny, I said this a week ago: http://freethoughtblogs.com/singham/2016/07/18/trumps-ghostwriter-gives-a-tell-all-interview/#comment-4343745

    It’s incredible to me, over a year into Trump-mania, that rational people are still saying “but… but… but…” and pointing to facts, as though that has made any bloody difference at any stage. Hasn’t the UK referendum campaign taught you people anything? We’re living in the post-fact age. Lies work. Get used to it.

  8. hyphenman says

    So, while I think Newt Gingrich is a disingenuous opportunist, in this instance, he’s spot on.

    When you’re talking about the Republican base, hell, the vast majority of people, feelings always trump facts, full stop.

    To confirm this you only need to consider how many people have fallen in Love, uttered a prayer or walked a little faster when traversing Sleepy Hollow after midnight. Yes there are people who are guided by reason and facts, but we are a tiny, tiny minority in this world.

    The situation is improving, but sadly we still live in a world driven by emotions, not reason.

    Newt is not stupid or crazy. He simply understands how the world works and is taking full advantage of that knowledge.

    Do all you can to make today a better day,

    Jeff Hess
    Have Coffee Will Write

  9. Mano Singham says


    I totally agree with you that Gingrich is taking advantage of the voters’ tendency to value feelings over facts. But he is doing more than that. By validating that attitude and even encouraging it, he is sowing the seeds for the kinds of really dangerous ignorance-based politics of which first Palin and now Trump are potent symbols.

  10. Rich in Duluth says

    #11 Jeff, I agree with you. Republicans are the party of big business. Big business knows how to sell things to the masses. Facts don’t matter when you want to buy something. But, as Progressives, we can’t stop with just the recognizing that feelings matter and facts don’t, to many, many people. I think that the Left must start appealing to the feeling side of the American people, as well as focusing on facts.
    For example, when we discuss politics or current events with our Right wing friends, I think we should try to connect with their pro-life feelings when we discuss the police killings of unarmed black men. Connect with their sacred feelings toward “god’s” earth, when we discuss the environment. Connect with their feelings of liberty, when we discuss women’s rights.
    Someone said that we are feeling animals, that think.

  11. hyphenman says

    @Mano, No. 12

    I think Newt, and his ilk, are reaping the harvest from seeds sown for decades.

    One of the reasons that Newt was able to so ably shut down universal health care in the ’90s was the infamous, information-free, chart suggesting that the system championed by then first lady Clinton would be a bureaucratic nightmare. Pile on the cherry picking of the British and Canadian systems and the Clinton plan was dead on arrival before any actual facts were aired.

    We also can point the finger to decades of Roger Ailes’ disingenuous, We report, you decide slogan which suggested that two sides of any argument were of equal importance, i.e. evolution vs. creationism.

    The challenge has to be how to combat the insidious pestilence. Fighting fire with fire would seem the obvious choice, but I’m uncertain as to how well that might work.

    I often feel as if I’m dealing with recalcitrant or spoiled children who cannot be reasoned with and who will only respond to a sound spanking.

    @Rich in Duluth No. 13

    Are you really in Duluth? Thirty years ago I was an editor for the then Harcourt Brace Jovanovich publishing house which maintained our production facilities there. I could tell you lots of stories of hot tubs and playing snow gulf on the frozen lake.

    To your point, I see the sense of your argument, of appealing to emotions, and I think you’re right in that we must find ways to make that work. I just don’t see that way in the moment.

    Do all you can to make today a better day,

    Jeff Hess
    Have Coffee Will Write

  12. Rich in Duluth says

    @Jeff, No. 14
    U betcha, Duluth, MN, and I’m very close to a person who worked at HBJ in the late 60s.

    I just think we must talk to our Right wing friends in a language they understand. I’ve been trying it lately, and, while I haven’t swayed any opinions, I have made connections with them. Have you read Jonathan Haidt’s 2012 book, “The Righteous Mind”, which talked about the differences between liberal and conservative thinking and suggested ways to make connections.


  13. lorn says

    The feelings = facts dynamic isn’t too far from what Cheney said about the neocon strategy of the US simply pronouncing a new reality and the rest of the world having to deal with it. A game they can’t win because by the time they adjust to the new reality we have established a completely new reality.

    This isn’t something new. It is simply a re-framing of the role of initiative in tactics. Most often seen in the context of war it could be said about business also.

    Applied to political rhetoric it fails simply because they are not talking about a fight between foes where every move has consequences and failing to counter a move is the same as going along with your enemy’s plan. This is a fight between actual, palpable, demonstrable, reality and a web of lies driven by media buys with the intended purpose of unbalancing people so they will vote for a monster. When the media buys and flogging of the lies stops reality, unbidden and unpaid for, will emerge. In the end reality always wins.

    The question is when reality wins. Before, or after, Trump becomes president.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *