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Friday, November 25, 2011

Pragmatics

By which is meant, politics ... as opposed to theory or ideology or religion or idealism. Getting things done. Not the perfect thing, or the right thing -- rather, the less-bad thing. The distinction has been made in these pages before, between politics and tyranny. Tyranny is when one person only gets his way. Everything else is compromise, that is, politics. Jesus in his Kingdom will be a tyrant, a despot, an absolutist. Good. Anyone else though, no please.

The grownup understanding is that it's cyclical. They win and that's bad, but we'll win too. We'd like it to be the 1971-72 Lakers winning streak, unprecedented and unmatched. We thought they'd never lose. But, first, it's only a game. Second, everyone dies. What, you think it will always be the American Century? Our decadence is manifest. China is not good, but it will be great. Why not? Resources and drive. Human rights? Hardly anyone cares about that. The Russians in WWII would through themselves in front of tank treads just to slow them down a little. That too is human nature. Neither good nor bad ... were they fighting against Nazism or for Communism? Or just demonstrating human nature -- loyalty to what you know? We as a country no longer fight so very much for the purity of or institution, witness open borders. So we are losing. Something else will take our place, if history lasts long enough.

My point? Ethics matter, in public life more than almost anything. Make your own list. But in this world virtue does not prevail. That would be a religious law, but it is not a physical one. Strength of purpose prevails, when supported by resources. Is that us? America is like a bag full of cats -- lots of movement, and perhaps a tenancy to roll in a general direction; maybe a hard blow from outside with a stick will change the direction. Not all power is physical. Human power in fact is almost entirely psychological -- intimidation, or inspiration, or what have you. So when we speak of power, and greatness, we wish put are not promised that the individual be considered. There is no guarantee.

Four years ago I read a lot on candidate Fred Thompson, and decided he simply lacked the energy to be president. We get in line behind whomever, because the other guy is worse. Thus ... oh, I'm blanking on the name ... McCain. This time, well, Cain had his blip, but he is so utterly not ready. We want more than a theoretician who mouths the party line. Perry likewise, manifestly unready. Bachmann is a non starter as I may have said. Paul is unelectable. Romney sounds like he's class president trying to win a debate -- talking over himself trying to rush out all his good ideas: it's nice that he has good ideas, but he should slow down a bit ... seems a bit desperate.

Gingritch? Deeply flawed. Like Giuliani. But he's the adult. Hey, junior, this isn't a popularity contest. We want tough, in fact, we want mean. I want, for once, a real asshole to be president. An openly mean guy, ruthless in the cause I espouse. Like, I'm for waterboarding, not because it's the least tortuous technique, but because it's the most torturous that we allow ourselves. Not only do I believe in hell: I want more of it. There is too little justice in the world.

So, so what if Gingritch was a lobbyist for Freddy Mac. A man can't work, for money, in this country? You have a wrong and unamerican idea in your head. Did he give them good advice? He says they didn't take it, so he must have. Unless he's lying. What a surprise that would be. Let's hope he's good at lying, then. Cuz that's what we hire pols to do, and I am not being cynical. Lies I don't find out about, I don't care about. He is an adulterer? Yes. And since you're taking the principled position, you must respond to the fact that he is a repentant adulterer. Or is it just point-scoring that you're interested in? In which case, first, I refer you to Clinton, and second, to your own character. I never did and do not believe I ever would have cheated on my wife. That does not mean I'm not a pig. But maybe you're different.

Get it? Of course old sins matter. They matter if they are unrepented, as showing a low character. They matter if repented, as showing an improved character. I don't want a little boy in office. Sort of what we have now. I want an adult, warts and all.

It's like hiring a lawyer. You want the guy who will fight hard, and win. That's ethics, professional ethics. A vigorous defense. There's a code of professional conduct, ultimately the Constitution. Or the Bible. The Koran? Something outside oneself. Point is, it's a pragmatic thing. We hire someone to do work for pay. I don't care if my plumber has a gambling problem. I don't care if my lawyer cheats on his wife. I don't care if my preacher can't fix a transmission. I want them to be true to what they're paid to do. So if Gingritch sits down with Pelosi to say we need to do something about climate change, well, he has a reason that doesn't show up in the ad, but that is still a good reason. Not great communication on his part? Off with his head. But wouldn't you hate to be on the opposite side of the table from him, debating?

I wish but don't think he'll be the nominee. A safe bet, then. My guy hardly ever wins. Romney is just another pol. Right side? Good. I hope he wins. But this isn't really the time for more of the same, alternating between incompetent left and uninspired right.

Alternative history is a cool genre of science fiction. I'd would have liked to see what it would be like, in real life.


J

3 comments:

Will C. said...

Spot on mate...right as usual. Gingrich is our best bet right now unless Marco Rubio ever decides to run.

Jack H said...

One wonders if you are sincere. My opinion is mutable in this matter. G is a very strange candidate. But so was Churchill. Romney seems pretty run of the mill, in historic terms. I don't know, but I don't have to, yet. We shall see.

Will C. said...

Sincere pertaining to what? You? Rubio? Gingrich? Whoever gets the R nomination will get my vote against Thulsa Doom...