Friday, November 30, 2007

Cognitive dissonance

I don’t get it either.
Fred Clark at Slacktivist has a good question about the disconnect necessary to be a rightwinger these days.

Right wing bloggers, talk radio hosts and Fox News readers spent the first few weeks of spring lambasting Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for her trip to Damascus because, they said, talking to the Syrians is Bad, it Legitimizes the Enemy, etc. This required a bit of nimble footwork on their part, because they had to pretend that no Republican members of Congress took part in these Syrian delegations. But the principle was clearly established: Talking to Syria = Hates America.

Yesterday, Syria agreed to send representatives to the Annapolis Conference organized and hosted by the Bush administration. This is something the administration, to its credit, pursued and achieved. So now, just seven months later, Talking to Syria = Good.

If you're completely unprincipled and you don't care about logical consistency or coherence -- if all of politics is just a big game of Fizzbin -- then this isn't a problem and it's simply a matter of following the latest talking points from the central office: Talking to Syria is now Good. We've always been at war with Oceania.

But I would think that at least some of these right wing bloggers and talk radio hosts, and maybe even one or two Fox News readers, are actually true believers sincerely arguing for what they genuinely believe. I can't imagine it's easy for them to suddenly have to stop believing X and start believing Not X.

It's actually even stranger than that -- they have to suddenly switch from arguing that Nancy Pelosi is a demon because she believes X to arguing that George Bush is a genius and a patriot because he believes X, all while somehow arguing that Pelosi is still a demon. It's like the Triple Lindy of cognitive dissonance.

How do they accommodate that? What's the mental trick? Seriously. I don't get it.

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