26 November 2012

I call shenanigans on David Brooks again

NYTimes | David Brooks | Why We Love Politics

I hope everybody who shares this anti-political mood will go out to see “Lincoln,” directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Tony Kushner. The movie portrays the nobility of politics in exactly the right way.

It shows that you can do more good in politics than in any other sphere.
(1) You can also do more evil in politics than any other sphere. Seriously, name me ten people who have done as much evil without politics as Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot, Hirohito, Caracalla, Napoleon, Temujin, Robespierre, ... Do I have to go on?

(2) Tell that to Norman Borlaug, or Joseph Lister, or John MacAdam, or Henry Bessemer, or Johannes Gutenberg, or Luca Pacioli, or Vint Cerf, or ... Again, do I have to go on?
The challenge of politics lies precisely in the marriage of high vision and low cunning. Spielberg’s “Lincoln” gets this point. The hero has a high moral vision, but he also has the courage to take morally hazardous action in order to make that vision a reality.

To lead his country through a war, to finagle his ideas through Congress, Lincoln feels compelled to ignore court decisions, dole out patronage, play legalistic games, deceive his supporters and accept the fact that every time he addresses one problem he ends up creating others down the road.
"You know what's great about politicians? That they're so good at lying and cheating and arm-twisting and back-stabbing in order to achieve the goals they've personally decided are right." Wow. How noble. Brooks' entire argument boils down to the ends justify the means.

No, actually it's worse than that. He's claiming that dirty means make the ends even more glorious.

Can you imagine the NYTimes opinion page publishing this blather about someone in any other profession? "Oh, I'm ever so thankful that the CEO of ADM lied and cheated in order to get draught resistant GM potatoes in the hands of peasant farmers. Isn't it great that he ignored courts, doled out patronage, played legalistic games and deceived friend and foe alike, all to achieve a good end?"

If you weren't convinced that Brooks had a tremendous hard-on for the State I hope this column has cleared things up for you.

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