Discourse and Democracy   /   Fall 2004   /    Articles

A Polarized America

David Brooks

Arunning argument I have been having with members of the Bush administration is revelatory of how they think about discourse and democracy. The first column I wrote for The New York Times about a year ago began something like this: “People in the Bush administration will never admit a mistake, but they do change the way they effect policy.” I got a call the next day from a friend in the administration to talk about why they never admit a mistake. He described a comment, made experi- mentally, admitting a mistake. He and many in the administration had taken a trip to Baghdad shortly after the ground war ended. When they came back, Paul Wolfowitz said publicly, “We made five mistakes so far in this war,” and listed them. The headlines the next day were, “Wolfowitz: We Were Stupid” and other negative sound bites.

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