Wednesday, January 2, 2008

This Ain't No Food Fight

Richard Powers has a terrific essay in his blog. I've certainly expounded on the idea that partisanship isn't something evil, that, in fact, standing up for what's right is part of what we are as a country. Nevertheless, neither I, nor anyone else I can think of has put that thought quite this eloquently:

Sen. Obama, Al Gore is not Sister Souljah.

Al Gore is the 2007 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Al Gore also won an Emmy and an Oscar in 2007. If he had entered the race, you would be on the sidelines, jumping up and down and hoping for a chance to get into the game.

Sen. Obama, please stop referring, as you do in almost every speech, to the last two decades in Beltwayistan as a "partisan food fight."

Ask the wrongly jailed Susan McDougal if it has been a "food fight."

Ask wrongly imprisoned former Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama if it was a "food fight."

Ask Vince Foster's wife if it has been a "food fight."

Ask Valerie Plame and those who put their lives on the line to work with her if it has been a "food fight."

Open Letter to Sen. Barack Obama -- This is Not a "Food Fight." This is a *Civil* War

As batshit crazy as I find their reasoning, I respect the anti-abortion movement more than guys like David Broder and Barack Obama. At least the "pro life" crowd stand for something. When something is wrong, you have to stand up to it. You can't compromise with it or meet it halfway. Some people will just take that half-way and make it three-quarters wrong. When you're dealing with such people, you can't afford to be magnanimous until you've won.

Speaking of which, Taylor Marsh provides a study in contrast between the "anti-Hillary"'s:

Two closing ads from two very different candidates. They say it all.

Notice the focus? Get the differences?

Demigod vs. Fighter.

Personality vs. Principles.

Me-Me-Me vs. It's About You.

If You Don't Like Hillary...

Follow the link, and watch the YouTubes. The contrast couldn't be starker.

UPDATE: Patrick Lang may have written the best summary of the Obama campaign's appeal, and of our politics in general:

One of the things that I claim to have learned is that humans are prone by their very nature to believe whatever they wish to believe.

This feature of the human mind is endlessly repeated in the pages of the history of intelligence analysis. People often misinterpret or ignore the obvious conclusions that available data lead to. Instead of applying Occam's Razor to a problem they (often collectively) believe something that satisfies their inner desires and needs. This frequently leads to disastrous results.


Now Cohen is telling us to remember that there is a danger of doing the same thing in choosing a president. There is a danger of seeing what you want to see in someone, of accepting the crude image building that modern political campaigns depend on for shaping our weak minds. In the case of Obama the danger is increased by the desire we all have to feel good about ourselves, to believe that he and we are now better and purer than we were.

This danger is not limited to Obama and his campaign. It is everywhere. Take care and think sceptically.

"The Mendacity of Hope" Richard Cohen

In my own profession, engineering, I've noticed this tendency, also. It's sadly common, and few are able to resist it consistently. If there's one thing I've always tried to do, it's to be skeptical of everything I hear and see. If it doesn't jibe with my own experience and the observably real experience of others, there's every likelihood that what I'm being told isn't true, no matter how good it might sound. That's why I became suspicious of Obama many months ago.

It would be wonderful if we could all just get along, but we are demonstrably a species who have a hard time doing that. One of the reasons is that we each are also interested in our own gain. Some are more interested than others, and those who are too interested in their own gain, at the expense of the rest of us, can never be trusted to do the right thing on their own.

If we've learned anything in the last seven years, it should have been that.

No comments: