Six years ago, I wrote the following little political satire. I have often thought back to it and decided to repost it in support of Sue Tiernan’s comment on “Global climate disruption: the latest.” If Al Gore had not been so reasonable (as later reflected in his book The Assault on Reason), he might have won enough votes in 2000 to be out of the Supreme Court’s sights. I have to say, nothing in today’s national discourse leads me to believe I was being pessimistic as regards the overall direction of our culture. Still, we do need to keep honoring and supporting the public figures who speak up for science and the exercise of reason to solve contemporary problems. As Winston Churchill said: “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.”
Washington, December 22, 2007 — In his first known foray into intellectual history, President George W. Bush today issued a proclamation that the Age of Reason ended in late 2000.
“Laura has told me about this former politician’s book called The Assault on Reason,” the President said. “I completely agree with any assault. Who needs reason any more when we have TV, marketing, polling, prayer, focus groups, and Vice President Cheney?”
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, drawing on her experience as a former professor of political science at Stanford University, endorsed the President’s decree, saying: “Five hundred years for the Roman Empire, 1,000 for the Middle Ages, then 500 for the Age of Reason, that’s enough.”
“The year 2000 was a symbolic year in American and human history; now we’re in the Age of Post-Reason, or PR for short,” Rice continued. I’d expect this new age to last until about the year 2500, unless as our good friends in the fundamentalist movement say, Armageddon intervenes.”
“Absolutely right!” exclaimed former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, reached at his secret retreat in Texas. “Reason is quaint and old-fashioned. One of those early presidents — someone whose last name begins with J, I think — had it totally backwards when he said: ‘Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion.’ Now there’s a guy who obviously never heard of public relations and press releases.”
Bush ally and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, reached at his secret office somewhere between Cairo and Kabul, also applauded the President’s announcement, saying: “I’m sure this news will be well received here in the Middle East. The Bush Post-Reason Doctrine will help bring all those warring parties together in a common world view.”
In a related story, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 295 points on news that the Universal Astrology Association has predicted a good year for stocks in 2008 based on a favorable conjunction of Venus and Mars.