Yet acquiescence to this cynical game of political correctness represents the greatest debasement of all. Not only is it cowardly and irresponsible, it allows polite society to evade, for however long it wishes, substantive debate on moral choices which should concern us all. A society which wants to wage war without seeming to shed blood is one which has no intention of confronting the ethical issues. Then we are blind in heart as we are in sight. Nothing to see here, just Move On.
Uncounscious self-deception is usually referred to as "psychological denial". It is a psychological mechanism of great power, and allows its practitioner to avoid psychological conflicts that threaten to tear apart his sense of Self. What about when such a mechanism is deliberate and conscious? I guess we would call it plausible deniability. And it is done for precisely the reasons that Wretchart mentions: to avoid moral choices.
"It's not me!" has become the rallying cry of the moral adolescents among us, who know what needs to be done, but are so frightened of public opinion (as it is manipulated by the press) that they feel it necessary to pander to everyone, lest they lose popularity--or worse, lose votes.
Wretchard mentions several examples. Let me just point to one more (from Powerline):
Mark Levin at NRO's Corner points to the following language, contained in an October 2002 Senate resolution authorizing the president to go to war, for which Senators Reid, Clinton, Schumer, Dodd, Kerry, Edwards, and Biden all voted:"Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;
"Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terroist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of United States citizens;
"Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations ... "
Yet the Democrats now claim that it is unconscionable for President Bush to link our military action in Iraq to 9/11 and the war on terrorism. What the Democrats really mean is that it is unconscionable for Bush to keep mentioning an issue that has cost them back-to-back elections because they can't convince the public they are sufficiently serious about it.
How expedient is it to "forget" things like this. Or that international intelligence before the Iraq war unanimously concluded that Saddam had WMDs? How convenient to "forget" that 9/11 even happened and be "outraged" that the President would remind us of this fact--especially since we are at war with those who perpetrated it.
This is not simple psychological denial (although there is plenty of that to go around, too). This is the deliberate attempt to manipulate the facts in order to conform with prevailing public opinion.
You want to talk about "fixing" the intelligence (a la the so-called Downing Street Memo-which made such a fuss over nothing)? What the Democrats are doing is "fixing" their morality to conform to the the latest trends and polls.
When their polls go down, they will scramble frantically to adjust their morality accordingly.
Of course, it will never occur to them that their wishy-washy, namby-pamby, "nuanced" approach to doing what is GOOD, RIGHT, AND NECESSARY might be responsible for their declining poll numbers.
That's because they're also in psychological denial.