Tom Coburn writes The Year Washington Fled Reality in the Wall Street Journal.
The culture that Mr. Obama campaigned against, the old kind of politics, teaches politicians that repetition and “message discipline”—never straying from using the same slogans and talking points—can create reality, regardless of the facts. Message discipline works if the goal is to win an election or achieve a short-term political goal. But saying that something is true doesn’t make it so. When a misleading message ultimately clashes with reality, the result is dissonance and conflict. In a republic, deception is destructive. Without truth there can be no trust. Without trust there can be no consent. And without consent we invite paralysis, if not chaos.
Taking unilateral, extralegal action—like delaying the employer mandate for a year when Mr. Obama realized the trouble it would cause for businesses—is part of a pattern for this administration. Immigration and border-security laws that might displease certain constituencies if enforced? Ignore the laws. Unhappy that a deep-water drilling moratorium was struck down in court? Reimpose it anyway. Internal Revenue Service agents using the power of the state to harass political enemies? Deny and then stonewall. Unhappy with the pace of Senate confirmations for nominees? Ignore the Constitution and appoint people anyway and claim that the Senate is not in session.
How the nation’s leaders perform in Washington is a reflection of the country, and culture, they represent. Moral relativism and postmodern disregard of truth has been promoted by academia for decades; sometimes it seems that the best students of that thinking can be found in Washington. We live in a time when laws and rules are defined however the holders of power decree, and “messaging” is paramount, regardless how far the message is from reality.