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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Nothing and Nowhere

I never have trouble seeing the other guy's side. That won't stop me from asserting my side if I perceive the need. It comes down to the fact that balance is static, and anything else activates the tipping point. Disagreement doesn't require passion, or even conviction. It does require clarifying your ideas. On this note, George Will has an apposite observation. "Arthur Balfour, the British statesman, once said that a rival's clarity was a liability because he had nothing to say." Then Will goes on to quote impeached former-president bill clinton on the 1991 Gulf War: "I guess I would have voted with the majority if it was a close vote. But I agree with the arguments the minority made." Such nothings say everything. Seems to be in conflict with Hillery's opinion on the matter, insofar as it is known.

It's actually really funny, these two masters and mistresses of triangulation, squaring off in such an elliptical way against each other. It's a lesson in geometry. Euclid would be proud, except that he required axioms. Which puts me in mind of Archimedes, who could have moved the world, given a place to stand. The clintons would try it, taking no stand at all.

Or, as one of the truly great thinkers of this or any other age -- I refer obviously to myself -- has said, in sublime poetic form:

A clinton's a wonderful being,
That knows all there is to of seeing
All sides of a matter,
On which it can chatter
Without ever stopping for breathing.

Superb, I know. Email your praise to me privately. I don't want to overload the server capacity of Google. There are after all only so many gigabytes.

Will observes the skill at vacuity in several pols, including the wind tunnel Huckabee, whose "candidacy rests on serial non sequiturs: I am a Christian, therefore I am a conservative, therefore whatever I have done or propose to do with 'compassionate,' meaning enlarged, government is conservatism. And by the way, anything I denote as a 'moral' issue is beyond debate other than by the uncaring forces of greed." In his favor is the apparently singular fact that he raised his hand when whatever "debate" maven queried which of the Republican candidates did not believe in Evolution.

It's a genuinely stupid question. We have all evolved. We are no longer the guileless babes that once we were. As for paleontology, it's still a stupid question. Hardly anyone believes that non-life brings forth life. Or rather, the only people who can think such a scientific impossibility think so entirely and solely on the basis of faith. Science after all has to do with prediction and testability and reproducible results. Yes, we know what the question was really asking. That doesn't make it less stupid.

A digression. Then again, maybe not. Because it has to do with taking a clear stand. Part of that clarity isn't just in speaking, but in first principles. We don't have to be right to be honorable. We do have to be, at some level, somewhere, forthright. clinton, and his nominal spouse, and Edwards and Huckabee and all these galley slaves of mediocrity have mastered the art of generating circular wind, which combined with their one-sided rowing perfectly qualifies them for taking America in the direction they've plotted out. Thar she blows.


J

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