Monday, January 17, 2005

"How Bush Really Won": an article by Mark Danner in NYRB

click picture for Mark Danner's web site

Since I'm studying for the GRE I decided to start reading The New York Review of Books more to try and pick up good words.

This article had three good words: contradistinction, shillyshallyer, and legerdemain. Contradistinction means what it sounds like, to define something in terms of how it contrasts with something else. A shillyshallyer is someone who waffles or procrastinates. Legerdemain means sleight of hand, an artful deception (from Old French leger de main, literally "light of hand").

The article gives a simple and convincing explanation for how Bush was able to pull off a victory with so many things going against him. This quote sums it all up:

"the facts did not matter... because [President Bush] was offering in their place a worldview that was whole, complete, comprehensible, and thus impermeable to statements of fact that clearly contradicted it."

In other words...

Bush's sales pitch is this: I'm a simple man who wants Americans to be safe and the world to be free, and I'll do whatever I gotta do in order to make it happen.

Kerry's sales pitch was centered on a litany of facts about the failings of Bush's presidency.

The problem is that complex information, however true, isn't as compelling as a simple storyline. Facts about Bush's mistakes don't put a dent in his fairy tale sales pitch because that song and dance isn't dependent on facts in the first place.

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