Saturday, December 30, 2006

Pushing the limits

It should have been safe to assume that the "success that hasn't occurred yet" line so thoroughly skewered yesterday would at least serve as the outer boundary of reality-averse spin for more than a day. But enter Jeff Goldstein (as pointed out at Lawyers, Guns & Money):
(C)ontrary to received wisdom, (the U.S. invasion) has made Iraq a far better place, if only for the moment potentially.
For reasons far beyond my comprehension given that the word serves only to highlight the sheer hilarity of the statement, the emphasis is included in the original.

Needless to say, this is one piece of spin that's likely to be picked up even faster. After all, mucking around with "hasn't occurred yet" may imply some expectation that real positive results will actually turn up in the future. But if potential returns are to be tallied - even when the potential has in reality proven to be unfulfilled - then suddenly the most absurdly optimistic assumption about a given policy can be put forward as its real effect.

This is the point where I'd normally offer examples of just how ridiculously such a principle could be applied. But is there really a better indictment of the argument than the one already at hand, as Goldstein tries to claim that past "potential" for a miraculous outcome to a war should make the world grateful that thousands of lives have been poured (and are being poured) into a sinkhole?

Sadly, that extreme application of such a bizarre argument can only make less macabre uses seem reasonable in comparison. And we can only hope that the potential abuse of such an argument will end up as far from reality as Goldstein's pipe dream for Iraq.

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