On The Colbert Report last night, Stephen spoke of that "McCain Wins Debate" premature ejaculation on the WSJ website and praised it as a case of John Mac's people being "able to get his version of the story out before the press could mangle it with what happened."
This confusion of wishes and reality has a history in the US. In The Americans, Daniel Boorstin speaks of the tradition of American "Booster Talk," a "Language of Anticipation," a way of speaking about things in which "what may be is contemplated as though it were in actual existence" In the US, Booster Talk is not understood to be misrepresentation--or at least it does not seem that way to Americans--but rather as a kind of clairvoyance, "not exaggerating but only anticipating--describing things which had not yet 'gone through the formality of taking place'" (296-98).
Or, to cite a fictional depiction of our uneasy relationship with reality, in Don DeLillo's novel White Noise, the small Midwestern town where Hitler Studies professor Jack Gladney teaches at the College on the Hill is threatened by an "airborne toxic event" spread by a nearby chemical factory. Soon after the accident, Gladney speaks with a technician from SIMUVAC, a member of a "simulated evacuation" task force delegated to the creation of a working model of "events" like the one that has just taken place. "But this evacuation isn't simulated," Gladney observes. "It's real." "We know that," the technician acknowledges. "But we thought we could use it as a model." Asked, then, how the actual event is going, he replies:
The insertion curve isn't as smooth as we would like. There's a probability excess. Plus which we don't have our victims laid out where we'd want them if this was an actual simulation. In other words we're forced to take our victims where we find them. . . . You have to make allowances for the fact that everything we see tonight is real. There's a lot of polishing we still have to do. . . .
In its historical subversion of the distinction between the actual and the anticipated, the real and the simulated, America, like DeLillo's technician, is still willing to make allowances for the real, but the polishing nevertheless progresses apace. Missions are accomplished before they may never be. An upstart African American presidential candidate is preemptorily trounced in the primaries and the election before he isn't. Is not Hillary's and McCain's anger the result of the intrusion of reality into their prematurely anticipated triumphs?