Hillary will not apologize for voting for the Iraq war. She ought to,
but she won't. She says if she knew then what she knows now, she would
not have voted the way she did. What she didn't know then was that the
war would become so unpopular.
Monday, June 11, 2007
A Strategy for John Edwards
I spent some time yesterday with The New York Times Magazine issue on
economics, especially the piece on John Edwards, my candidate for
President in 2008. He wants to fight poverty. The conclusion was that
he has the personal passion , some good policies that will work, but he
hasn't found a strategy to make it a winnable issue. I am a moralist
who writes books on ethic, but I agree that appeals to conscience won't
work very well here.
My suggestion is that he make his appeal to strengthening families,
especially middle and lower-income families. This is a theme that can
capture the imagination of large numbers of people because they have a
personal interest in strengthening their families and need help.
He can organize a variety of proposals around this central focus, many
of them designed to promote the incomes of average and low-income
workers whose wages have been mainly stagnant in recent years, with
some exceptions. For further elaboration of this, see my contribution
dated Saturday, November 11, 2006.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Sorry State of Public Discourse
No good solution exists for Iraq, illegal immigration through Mexico,
and abortion. Good means benefiting nearly everyone and hurting few or
none, serving mostly worthwhile purposes and having few or no
negatives. We have to search for the least bad policy or the best of
available, workable ones. Yet who in public life clamoring for our
votes is saying this? Many proposals are out there, but their sponsors
see only the good in them and either don't know or don't say out loud
what counts against it.
Which public voice is saying, 'Taking everything into account, by and
large, generally speaking, this is the best available practical option.
Even though it is not very good, it is the best we can do under the
circumstances." Yet this is closer to the truth than all the confident
claims that exaggerate the benefits and underplay the downside of
whatever policy is being advocated.
Will people not hear or accept the notion that some problems are
complex, ambiguous, and difficult, that only proximate solutions are
available that try to achieve as much good and avoid as much that is
bad that is possible under the circumstances? I don't know. Apparently
our leaders think they won't, or they themselves don't know any better
and are simply ignorant, naive, or purely opportunistic, i. e., look
for the greatest political gain that they can milk out of the situation.
I have written in other blogs on this site of the particulars of Iraq,
illegal immigration from out southern border, and abortion. Here let me
say that each of these requires an "emergency" answer," i. e., a
response to a dire situation that arises because something has gone
wrong. Something went wrong in Iraq when we invaded and before, but now
that we are in the tragic, catastrophic mess, we have to do the best we
can. That probably means violence, chaos, and disorder if we leave, and
more needless, futile loss of lives, perhaps a protracted civil war, if
we stay. The only solution to the illegal entry of immigrants through
Mexico is to make living conditions decent in their own countries so
they can stay home and prosper instead of risking their lives to work
for meager wages under exploitative conditions here employed by people
who want an endless supply of cheap labor who will not complain about
harsh working conditions due to their desperation. The only solution to
the abortion issue is to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Meanwhile, we live with the simplicities and shallowness that mark our
public conversations because nobody wants to present the hard choices,
ambiguities, and complexities inherent in problems. And isn't this
because so many people want unambiguous certainties from their leaders?
Or do they? And would they hear the hard truth if their leaders would
talk straight to them instead of seeking advantages when their
opponents dare to mention how difficult, complicated, and ambiguous
choices really are when reality is confronted without blinking?
How do we account for the shortcomings in our democracy? We have
shallow minds thinking in shallow ways about complex issues in a
setting where honest conviction is mixed with the desire to get, keep,
and expand political power in the struggle of competing self-interests
-- the portions of integrity, conviction, and expediency varying from
little to much in our lawmakers.
Besides that is the power of money and lobbies representing large or
rich constituencies that distort the process in favor of the
politically powerful driven by the self interest of corporations and
highly organized groups like the National Rifle Association, the
I think the Founders envisioned or at least hoped for the presence of
the best minds in the country who would take office devoted to the good
of the Republic and not partisan goals of the rich and powerful. If you
had that kind of person with that kind of character and devotion to the
common welfare, then compromise would be the best we could get. The
compromises we get are usually poor because the negotiating positions
we start are so shallow and dictated by the interests of pressure
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Hillary's Judgment is the Big Issue