I’m ready for this election to be over.

I take John Cole’s view on Wesley Clark’s statement regarding the relevancy of being shot down and tortured to an individual’s ability to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. In short, General Clark is correct on the specific statement. That makes all the ranting border on the hysterical. Predictable, perhaps, but still strange.

The worst example I’ve encountered, which is a key distinction here because I’ve actively avoided the outrage machine, comes from Andrew Sullivan in response to a reader’s dissent. Mr. Sullivan writes (my emphasis added):

Strictly speaking, it is irrelevant for the presidency if someone was shot down and tortured. It doesn’t make anyone a better potential president. But there are plenty of ways to put this and to frame this without descending to a default position that seems to devalue McCain’s service. Clark is a dreadful politician and his off-the-cuff response, while technically true, is terrible politics and about the last debate Democrats need or should want to have. It has dominated a news cycle in ways that help McCain not Obama and drowned out Obama’s patriotism speech. The only silver lining is that the small chance that Clark might be an Obama veep is now zero.

General Clark is correct in his statement. Mr. Sullivan is correct in acknowledging that General Clark’s statement is “technically true” and terrible politics. I’m not here to refute the latter point because the rest of Gen. Clark’s interview with Bob Schieffer was classic shill. So what? The question is whether we’re really interested in an election that puts good politics ahead of the truth? Our unwillingness to deal with the truth because it’s politically unpalatable is why we’re in so many of the national messes we’re in. I’m not interested in enabling that further by pretending like this matters. It’s bad enough that we all have to play the game.

But what about the politics of this? The media has engaged itself in the long-standing narrative that Sen. McCain is a Hero™, so we can’t question him. Why? One need not question his heroism, patriotism, or sacrifice to get at the present reality. His history is a facet of his application for the office of President. Because his experience is (thankfully) rare does not give him a free pass. If getting shot down and tortured contributes something to the merit of his qualification, let him explain why. But do not treat it as a given. There is a viable thread that his experience gives him unique, applicable experience. There is also a viable thread that it’s not a requirement for the job. If one wants to be feisty, maybe his experience is even a knock on his fitness to be president because of how he processes it.


Semi-related, today Mr. Sullivan posts this general defense of Sen. Obama.

But Obama’s post-primary pivot to neutralize all the usual GOP attacks – and reintroduce himself to Middle America – has been more than usually pronounced. He can live with FISA telecom immunity; he’s flexible on troop withdrawal from Iraq; he’s happy with executing child rapists; he doesn’t need public financing; he’ll out-patriot the Right; he’s touting his support for welfare reform; he’ll expand Bush’s faith-based programs; and he’s okay with the Supreme Court’s view of the Second Amendment. Oh, and he’ll reduce taxes on the middle class, while hiking them for the rich or successful or whatever you’ll let me call them.

It’s been clear for a long time: A man who beat the Clintons is as ruthless as they are. Just smarter, and less susceptible to losing his grip on the core principles he still believes in.

I don’t question that Sen. Obama is an effective politician. This is why I think he’ll be more ineffective in office than some want to believe. Being a gifted politician means getting what you want, but it also means making enemies. Hopefully he’ll make enough in the Congress.

But I’m not able to decipher a coherent, consistent set of core principles in Sen. Obama’s growing spectrum of public declarations. The telecoms broke the law. He won’t advocate repealing campaign finance regulations. Faith-based programs miss the point of the First Amendment, among other problems. Adjusting the mix of financial “winners” and “losers” – a rejection of the idea that merit should mean something – ignores property rights and equal treatment under the law in favor of his idea of more equal outcomes. Narrow that down in a way that each set of facts can be filtered through through the same idea and I’ll retract my criticism that he is not acting from core principles. Until then, let’s not confuse winning with correct. Manipulating the message is great marketing, but it’s hardly proof of a statesman.

(Comments are closed. Cross-posted at Publius Endures, where comments are open.)

Interpretation of facts is the key.

Perhaps the large hadron collider created a black hole and our world has ended. I can think of no other way to explain Robert Samuelson’s latest column.

Tired of high gasoline prices and rising food costs? Well, here’s a solution. Let’s shoot the speculators. A chorus of politicians, including John McCain and Barack Obama, blames these financial slimeballs for piling into commodities markets and pushing prices to artificial and unconscionable levels. Gosh, if only it were that simple. Speculator-bashing is another exercise in scapegoating and grandstanding. Leading politicians either don’t understand what’s happening or don’t want to acknowledge their own complicity.

A better explanation is basic supply and demand. …

Politicians promise to tighten regulation of futures markets, but futures markets aren’t the main problem. Scarcities are. Government subsidies for corn-based ethanol have increased food prices by diverting more grain into biofuels. A third of this year’s U.S. corn crop could go to ethanol. Restrictions on oil drilling in the United States have limited global production and put upward pressure on prices. If politicians wish to point fingers of blame, they should start with themselves.

I was content that he didn’t seek a government solution, his usual default. Directly (and accurately) blaming politicians is more than I could’ve ever hoped for. I think I’m going to stock up on canned goods now. The end is near.


And yet, there is proof that there are some constants. Following his whining about the Heller decision, E.J. Dionne is back with more lamenting on the conservative court and what it means for the people. Basically, he writes an ode to jurisprudence based on outcome rather than principle. He concludes:

The four conservatives on the Supreme Court, when empowered by the swing vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy, have already shown their willingness to overturn the will of Congress and local legislatures when doing so fits their political philosophy. The same majority could keep conservative ideas in the saddle long after the electorate has decided that they don’t work anymore.

I still hold to the idea that truth is independent of when public opinion reaches 50.1% in favor of an idea. They may correlate, but the latter is not a requirement for the former.

Central planning isn’t just for economics.

I wonder if these two Ugandan MPs have ever spoken to each other. First:

THE parliamentary food forum has asked the Government to provide funds for the a campaign against female circumcision. Addressing journalists at Parliament on Friday, Bukwo Woman MP Everline Chelangat urged the Government to establish vocational institutions for girls to fight the custom.


THE chairman of the parliamentary HIV/AIDS committee has appealed to men to embrace circumcision to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

“There is nothing to lose when you remove the fore skin of the penis. Men who are not circumcised are more prone to HIV/AIDS,” Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye said on Saturday.

Dr. Tumwesigye is wrong about what a man loses from circumcision, and he is too broad in his declaration of the benefit against HIV because he ignores the necessary contributing factor, an HIV-infected female partner and condom-less sex. But where he accepts the distinction of choice in losing his perceived nothingness, these statements on male and female genital cutting are reasonably congruent, if slightly tone-deaf. As I’ve always advocated, I do not care what an adult – male or female – chooses to do to his/her genitals. Leave it alone or hack away. MP Chelangat is clearly arguing against forced cutting. I just wonder whether or not that distinction of choice exists in Tumwesigye’s intent:

Tumwesigye noted that attempts to make circumcision compulsory for men had failed because of the misconception that it was a practice only for Muslims.

I won’t read that as a statement that Tumwesigye isn’t interested in choice, although I think such an inference makes sense. Where are those attempts originating? If that’s what he’s saying, I’m not surprised. Respecting the science makes many doctors forget the ethics. I don’t know why, but it does. I think I’ll have more on that idea in the near future.

There isn’t much more to say than, from a marketing perspective, it’s fascinating that these two articles appeared on the same day in the same news outlet.