For those who do not know the name, McKinnon is one of the bottom feeders who helped to destroy America’s ability to solve problems. McKinnon is a hype master, a spin doctor, a bull shit artist without peer and a complete weasel.
It was McKinnon and his image making machine that sold George W. Bush to America. And while that alone should earn him his own circle in Hell, he is responsible for even greater damage. For it was McKinnon who took the virtue of learning–the skill to evolve your understanding of an issue based on knowledge–and twisted it into a liability. McKinnon sold the idea that a mind that could not learn-would not learn–was better than a mind that did. McKinnon sold the idea that stubborn ignorance is a virtue and that fear of knowledge should be celebrated. It was McKinnon who invented and sold the whole “Decider” line of bullshit. It was McKinnon who sold the idea that wisdom is a bad thing.
The 2004 Campaign was McKinnon at his best. It was McKinnon who invented the idea of the “flip-flop” as a way to attack John Kerry’s willingness to evolve his thinking as he learned new details. McKinnon sold Bush’s prideful stupidity and rigid, incurious mind as virtues. It work. Now, any evolution of thought presents a new “gotcha” opportunity for an impressively lazy press corps and there is very little room for any politician, pundit or even citizen to admit that any new information or learning has led to an evolution of their thinking. The mere act of thinking has become a bad thing thanks in large part to the work of Mark McKinnon.
The notion that changing your mind is always a sign of weakness–and an action to be treated with contempt–is what McKinnon sold to America. It is–of course–bullshit, but McKinnon was very good at selling shit sandwiches as a tasty snacks. And his playbook is now part of the sacred canon of wingnutopia and our failed media experiment.
Over in the real world, folks evolve their thinking all the time. It is a virtue to celebrate. If Bush had the ability to learn he might not have been the complete fuck up that he turned out to be. But the poor bastard was surrounded by sycophants like McKinnon who always celebrated his closed mind as a beautiful thing.
I think the ability to change your mind is what separates the so called Left from the so called Right in America. On the progressive/liberal side you can change your mind and have great arguments and discussions with folks over points small and large. Sometimes these folks will provide new information and your mind will change again. Your position will evolve.
On the modern conservative/glibertarian side, learning and changing your mind based on new information is seen as a weakness and a thing to be avoided. The talking points are handed down daily and one must never deviate from them or you will be run out of the tribe. Facts and new information must be treated as taboos because they always run the risk of calling this or that talking point into question.
The art above is by Paul Darmafall. He was an outsider or visionary artist from Baltimore. He used to make his signs from found wood, paint, glue and broken glass. Then he would hang them around town. He was known as The Glassman. The painting above hangs at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. His art was his way to communicate his philosophy of life, patriotic feelings and spiritual beliefs. Certain phrases and themes were repeated in his work. One that I’ve always like is in this painting of George Washington. It is:
“I stand to be corrected.”
I think about that line as I write my posts and interact with comments, questions and challenges. I am willing to be wrong. I am willing to learn. I stand to be corrected. This is why I call myself a liberal, a progressive and a Democrat.
There were times in the past when the willingness to be wrong, to be corrected, to change your mind was a virtue on both the Right and the Left and a skill practiced by both Liberals and Conservatives–but that is not the case today. Now that willingness to ‘be corrected’ only lives on the Left. This really is too bad, because our ability to solve problems really would be better if thinking, learning and the openness to changing your mind was seen as a healthy and normal thing on all sides of any debate–but it is not. Perhaps this is why E.D. and so many others who start as self-identified ‘conservatives’ and/or ‘libertarians’ find themselves moving to the left–it is the only political space left in America that still values debate, learning and evolution of thought.
The American Right has descended into a madness of group think and a celebration of ignorance. It is harmful to our Nation and much of that harm can be laid at the feet of Mark McKinnon.*
*Oh, in an effort to prove he is without shame McKinnon is now one of the founders of “No Labels”, a group dedicated to selling America freshly wrapped servings of bullshit on a plate.