Bryant Welch's new edition of his book, State of Confusion: Political Manipulation and the Assault on the American Mind, purports to diagnose the mental illness that produces support for and tolerance of Donald Trump in particular, and the Republican Party in general. To some extent it does so, although it's mostly very familiar stuff, partly excusable because the first edition came out a decade ago. Welch, by the way, deserves credit for opposing participation in torture by the American Psychological Association.
What I find most illuminating in the book is the first-person account of an apparent sufferer of PHSD (Post Hillary Stress Disorder). I imagine that someone unfamiliar with the notion that Fox News lies and that political campaigns exploit bigotry and fears, or someone eager to hear reassuring accounts of how all evil originates among Republicans, would have a very different reaction to the book. My reaction is sympathy for the apparent trauma inflicted on apparently well-off educated people by Hillary Clinton's defeat, combined with outrage at the hypocrisies and in particular the militarism of Democratic partisanship.
"Awareness, deeper psychological awareness itself," Welch writes in his new prefatory note, "must become America's new Manhattan Project." Seriously? The creation of a new nuclear bomb? Is that the absolute best metaphor for the efforts of a book that diagnoses half the United States as remarkably evil and the other half as essentially good -- even while the bipartisan effort to build "more usable" nuclear bombs speeds ahead back here in reality? Well, yeah, perhaps it is. What else was the Cold War on the international level?
The fact that most everything Welch denounces in Republicans is accurate, while Democrats share many of the same faults and pile on others of their own is apparently disturbing in its perplexity. It's not difficult to comprehend. There has to be resistance to comprehending it. "The mind," Welch writes, "becomes so dependent on and pays such irrational obeisance to anyone who can protect it from perplexity that it steadfastly overlooks incompetence or severe character flaws in the admired charismatic leader." Welch's book proceeds to overlook all of the following in Hillary Clinton's performance as an outstanding neoconservative:
She said President Obama was wrong not to launch missile strikes on Syria in 2013.
She pushed hard for the overthrow of Qadaffi in 2011.
She supported the coup government in Honduras in 2009. (Where do those refugees come from, again?)
She long backed escalation and prolongation of war in Afghanistan.
She voted for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
She skillfully promoted the White House justification for the war on Iraq.
She did not hesitate to back the use of drones for targeted killing.
She consistently backed the military initiatives of Israel.
She was not ashamed to laugh at the killing of Qadaffi.
She did not hesitate to warn that she could obliterate Iran.
She was not afraid to antagonize Russia.
She helped facilitate a military coup in Ukraine.
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