"We're history's actors"
As I write this, the Nunes memo is likely to be made public and possibly already is by the time this gets published. To point out that the memo is one of the most outrageous attempts to manipulate the opinions of the American public since the drunken heyday of Joseph McCarthy is to understate Nunes' cynicism - and the the opportunism of his colleagues.
I was reminded of two things. The first is this quote from Ron Susskind, quoting a W. Bush official (likely Karl Rove):
The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' [...] 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do'.
Many of us laughed at the arrogance and sheer stupidity of this remark. We dismissed the notion that reality can be constructed exclusively by American power as naive at best, insane at worst.
Now, we're about to learn how naive and crazy we are. Because unless we are very lucky - that is, unless the memo is so incredibly incompetent that no one including Trump partisans take it seriously - it is likely that the Republicans will fully create their own reality once this is released. It will be a bizarro world, one where the integrity of patriots becomes treason and where those who sold out their country to a Russian thug and lied shamelessly about it are treated as if they are paragons of decency.
But little will it matter. We've lost the moment the discourse becomes, "the memo is correct in reporting [whatever]." Nobody cares about the "but" that follows. If the memo is framed as partially correct, we're just arguing on Trump's turf - and he's won.
I was also reminded of Borges' amazing short story, Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius. I won't spoil it for you (the link's to a pdf; enjoy!) other than to say it's about the discovery and adoption of alternative facts as a preferred reality.
Yes, reality sucks sometimes and we all would love things to look and go our way. But as sucky as reality has gotten, it's nothing compared to what it will be like when the Republicans' attempt to construct an alternative reality crashes and burns.
And it surely will.
Adding... For those of us in the reality-based community, some sobering facts that further impact our ability to keep America reality-based:
Only 8 percent of high school seniors surveyed by an independent polling firm for the study identified slavery as the primary reason for the Civil War. Almost half identified tax protests as the main cause.
Think about that for a moment. Half of all high school seniors think the South was protesting taxes. Think about the implications for discussions of taxes and racism today.