Brendan: I certainly agree that to "make a claim about a new report that your experts contradict in the report is chutzpah indeed," but I think you have to see it as "strategy indeed." You're studying politics-- study this!
It's a [n]ew kind of political strategy based on the insight that if you do make a claim like that, and you don't have to back off because the forces do not exist to make you, then you have, in a way, demonstrated your Administration's power "over" reality, and you can roll over other realities, other people, that way.
What if this method Bush has is a basic tool of governing? I think it is. Not a bug, a feature.
This is combined with another strange fact about the Bush White House. It is organized to make sure that a lot of "contrary" information never reaches Bush, which is the way he wants it. You have to re-draw the whole notion of "White House deliberations" for this group.
I don't think political scientists have any "rational actor" theories that truly explain Bush 43. Do you?
I agree that President Bush has made systematic misinformation and spin about policy a "basic tool of governing" -- indeed, that is precisely the argument of All the President's Spin. However, I disagree that political scientists lack "rational actor" theories that explain the administration's behavior. While the discipline lacks useful models of presidential communication strategy, we can certainly conclude that the administration's behavior is rational in a strategic sense. Given the media's fear of bias accusations, insistence on writing news stories in a "he said"/"she said" framework, and lack of interest in policy detail, it makes perfect sense for the administration to promote disinformation about policy, particularly after 9/11 when presidential approval was high and reporters were fearful. The book explores these ugly incentives in greater detail and explains how we think they can be changed.