Monday, August 22, 2005

the courage to follow

At Tapped, Mr. Goldberg describes the CW
that most Democrats are wary of turning against the war for fear that the administration will paint them as weak-kneed cut and run liberals.
I'm pretty sure he's got the CW right, and he goes on to ask whether that approach really serves Democratic interests.

I think the problem with the CW is much deeper than that. It doesn't take much courage to take the safe course and avoid being attacked. It doesn't take courage to keep your head down. It may take courage to send troops off to war (assuming you have enough compassion to care), but it takes precious little to let someone else send troops off to war, then support him in order to "support the troops."

It's hard (and depressing) to think that the Democratic leadership believes in the war. If they don't, however, the only words that come to mind to describe their behavior are "weak" and "cowardly." A lot of insults have been hurled at Cindy Sheehan, "weak" and "cowardly" aren't among them.

rally round the leader

Somerby and Krugman look back at the election that started it all, bemused but not amazed that so few Americans know who would have won with a complete recount. Somerby thinks Krugman lets the press off too easily. He's surely right, but I think he lets Gore and his team off too easily. It wasn't, after all, the press who decided which recounts to pursue. It wasn't the press who agreed that the most important issue was a smooth, timely transition rather than counting all votes cast. It wasn't the press who agreed that the American people were too infantile to live with some uncertainty over who the next President would be, and the government too fragile to manage a transition if all the new political appointees weren't vetted and ready to go.

When we consider the Bush Presidency, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that it began with the bipartisan consensus that expediency and unity were more important than the truth.

the freedom to be ignorant

The NYT describes the Discovery Institute and its campaign to delegitimize evolutionary theory. One phrase in particular caught my eye:
the institute has in many ways transformed the debate into an issue of academic freedom rather than a confrontation between biology and religion.
Sometimes, I can't help wondering if the larger, largely unconscious agenda is to devalue the meaning of freedom itself. Academic freedom exists to promote intellectual progress by giving those with well-considered, supportable views a seat at the table, even if those views conflict with authority. The intentional use of academic freedom to undermine such progress is at its root no different than repressive forces using the mechanisms of democracy in order to seize power and suppress dissent.