Duplicity, Delusion, and Cognitive Dissonance


Checking out the news this evening from Amsterdam, I couldn’t help but chuckle at Bill Clinton’s latest explanation of Hillary’s path to victory:

Right
now, among all the primary states, believe it or not, Hillary’s only 16
votes behind in pledged delegates, and she’s gonna wind up with the
lead in the popular vote in the primary states. She’s gonna wind up
with the lead in the delegates [from the primary states. It’s the
caucuses that have been killing us.

I
thought, well, sure, if the caucus states aren’t working out for you,
by all means, let’s just ignore them! Why should you have to account
for inconvenient contrary facts when you’re trying to paint a sunny
picture of success?
Turning to CNN, I learned “Baghdad on Lockdown as Rockets, Bombs Fly.”

Baghdad
was on virtual lockdown Friday as a tough new curfew ordered everyone
off the streets of the Iraqi capital and five other cities until 5 p.m.
Sunday.
That
restriction didn’t stop someone from firing rockets and mortar rounds
into the capital’s heavily fortified International Zone, commonly known
as the Green Zone. One slammed into the office of one of Iraq’s vice
presidents, Tareq al-Hashemi, killing two guards.

And then I read President
Bush’s speech from Dayton, Ohio
, in which he did an avoidance
and distortion dance that would have made the Clintons proud,
explaining why not just in spite, but because of renewed violence,
“normalcy is returning back to Iraq.”
Finally, I read Peggy Noonan’s take on what at this point is going on in Hillary Clinton’s mind:

What,
really, is Mrs. Clinton doing? She is having the worst case of
cognitive dissonance in the history of modern politics. She cannot come
up with a credible, realistic path to the nomination. She can’t trace
the line from “this moment’s difficulties” to “my triumphant end.” But
she cannot admit to herself that she can lose. Because Clintons don’t
lose. She can’t figure out how to win, and she can’t accept the idea of
not winning. She cannot accept that this nobody from nowhere could have
beaten her, quietly and silently, every day. (She cannot accept that
she still doesn’t know how he did it!)

Substitute
“President Bush” for “Mrs. Clinton” in the paragraph above and “victory
in Iraq” for “nomination” and you’ll see that Noonan’s only mistake was
to call Hillary’s cognitive dissonance the worst case in the history of
modern politics. In fact, I would argue that despite her game
attempts, she’s been outdone on the cognitive dissonance front by the
president.
The
difference is that very soon, reality will end the Clintons’ cognitive
dissonance, and at little cost to the nation. President Bush, on the
other hand, has successfully maneuvered Iraq into the lap of his
successor, and will now be able to indulge his own cognitive dissonance
permanently, at great cost to the nation indeed.
But
because Bush’s successor will inherit the president’s disasters, the
psychologies of Bush the president and Clinton the candidate must be
considered together. After all, do you trust someone whose campaign
narrative is as duplicitous and delusional as Hillary Clinton’s to
morph suddenly into a clear-eyed realist when it comes to ending the
war in Iraq, a war which she herself voted to authorize? Maybe this is
what Hillary means when she argues you’d be better off with McCain.