"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."
The "Anonymous" K__l R__e
I sometimes argue that politics is not about facts but (their pangrammatical homologue) acts. Politicians don't discover what is true, they decide what is just. (As for the legal system, Billy Bragg said it best: "This isn't a court of justice, son. This is a court of law.")
A great example of this can be seen in the current "birther" controversy, which I follow as a long-time aficionado and sometime fellow traveller of conspiracy theories. The recent passage of a bill that, in effect, declares Hawaii to be President Obama's birthplace, clearly illustrates the "active" rather than "factive" quality of politics.
Birthers, like all conspiracy theorists, believe in "the facts". Though their brethren won't acknowledge them, conspiracy theorists are the indestructible core of the "reality-based community". If you think facts subtend the policy realm you will, at some point, sooner or later, come to the conclusion that there is a vast conspiracy (usually "in Washington") to "cover them up", i.e., "the facts". It begins with the idea (recently dealt with in the Economist) that "all politicians lie". It ends with the idea that once the lie is exposed, the facts will come to light, and the world will "grow honest". As Hamlet astutely pointed out, then the end is near.
Anyway, Congress just passed a bill that, at least in opinion of Eric Kleefeld at TPM, puts the congressional supporters of the birthers in a tough spot. They were asked to affirm or deny that Obama was born in Hawaii, i.e., to vote for or against a bill that declares (albeit in passing) that Obama is a "natural born citizen" of the U.S. Kleefeld deftly brings Bill Posey's vote in this matter into contact with his previous statement that 'he wouldn't "swear on a stack of Bibles" that Obama is a natural-born American citizen'. That is, Posey has (arguably) been forced into the position of taking a position on a matter of fact that he wanted to leave open. Though he doesn't "know" (to his own satisfaction) where Obama was born, he has had to vote in favour of a bill that "enacts" this as a truth. It's a sort of "Ha, made you say it!" joke.
While this playfulness is going in Washington, of course, reality-based America (what Palin might call "the real America", I guess) only grows more disenchanted, and arguably, disenfranchised. The facts don't matter. Congress simply declares what they are. As politicians and journalists increasingly define what issues are "relevant" and what stories are "dead", the general population loses faith (or, worse, interest) in what is really going on. Ultimately any interest in what the facts are, in what "really happened", will mark you as a "conspiracy theorist", a wingnut, a nutbag, a loon. More respectfully, it will make you a kook, one of Old Ez's impractical cats. I.e., those who judiciously study what imperial justice is, i.e., what the empire does.