Lies, Post-modernism, pragmatism, the press, and Bush

A couple of weeks ago, [*], in connection with the hyping of Charles Colson’s recidivism-reduction program, I suggested that there was an essay to be written about the Bush Administration as the first post-modern Presidency. Josh Marshall has now written it. [*] (It’s more than possible that I the idea from him in the first place.) I’m going to ignore Matt Yglesias’s quite plausible suggestion [*] that there’s an element of American Pragmatist will-to-believe in there as well, since I despise the post-modernists but think there’s some good stuff in the Pragmatists, though my admiration is mostly for Pierce rather than James.

Tapped has a good riff [*], starting off from a piece in CJR by David Greenburg [*] on how the press’s reluctance to call a lie a lie when it comes to policy-relevant facts, as opposed to biographical ones, advantages the Republicans. I’m even more concerned about the way it debases the overall quality of public discourse, but I think both claims are true.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: