November 11, 2002


Hi Matt--perhaps it's just a matter of semantics, but politics *is* partisanship. It is so because the very nature of politics concerns *right* (i.e. justice), a matter which is (or, I'd argue ought to be) forever unresolvable in any *rationalistic* sense -- that is unless our prophets in the temples of natural science can manipulate all person's brain functioning such that we are as deterministically determined such as bees living in a hive or as a bowling ball rolling down an incline plane (i.e. so this is where the big debate is now errupting: between political philosophers, such as Leon Kass [a Straussian, no less] and scientistic scientists. An intelligent Marxist and MIT trained physicist friend of mine is now giving a lecture, "Below Good and Evil: Good-bye Ethics, Hello Neuroscience." Charming no?). As Charles Kesler, one of the most eminent scholars of political thought (and of the American Founding in particular) has put it: "THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION IS A PARTISAN DOCUMENT, though it says nothing of political parties. **It is partisan above all because it stands for a particular kind of government**, for republican government, which it undertakes to guarantee to the states." As a friendly remonstrance, I'd strongly urge you to read the rest of this document from which this quote is lifted at:

Of course, this Shawn Steel's statements are perfectly idiotic and just go to show the caliber of our elected officials. I think what you're reacting to is Mr. Steel's utterance which indicates, if not idiocy, then (to be charitable), total incompetence. He doesn't have the slightest clue as to how our republican form of democracy works. He would do well to actaully read something like, oh, the Federalist Papers some time (asuming he's capable of it).


Posted by: Robert Light at November 11, 2002 01:52 PM

Robert -- My beef is with how partisan politicians routinely blurt out totally hyperbolic & hypocritical bullshit, that they often don't even pretend to believe. It poisons the debate with cynicism and a disregard for the truth. My problem is with liars, not with the concept of gathering in broad political coalitions, but the broad coalitions we are left with tend to reward the partisan liars, and so I pay attention to things less fundamentally corrosive. For instance, picking my toenails.

Posted by: Matt Welch at November 11, 2002 03:31 PM

Fine, but partisanship, properly understood is healthy. I take your complaints about shameless liars, etc.; that's axiomatic. But of course, America's Constitution allows for quite pronounced Machiavellian "principles" to prevail. That famous line from Federalist 10, "let ambition check ambition" is straight from Wicked Nick, that Florentine genius who created modern politics.


Posted by: Robert Light at November 11, 2002 06:27 PM

I actually got a chuckle out of the line:

"You've really got me caught in my own rhetoric."

I find it a bit refreshing from a typical pol's usual tactic of denial/spin/counterspin/change the subject. More, "Well you got me, there" reactions when confronted, may make the over-the-top rhetoric tactic less likely in the future. I hope so, anyway.

Another way of putting it: I always liked the properly used "knowing wink, and 'touche' response." Of course, "properly used" is always subject to interpretation.

Posted by: Ray Eckhart at November 12, 2002 05:00 AM

Surprises me that this particular quote caught you attention Matt, when Terry McAuliffe has been doing this exact type of thing for 4 years now.
One difference though between your example, and McAuliffe's, he'll never admit that it's rhetoric.
The stuff i heard him spout post election such as, "george actually lost because he could have done better" was so delusional as to be sad.

Posted by: DavidD at November 12, 2002 08:27 AM

David -- I've been criticizing Terry McAuliffe, and Weenie Joe Andrew, and Faht Fore Yeww Al Gore, and Vinegar Joe Lieberman, for years.

Posted by: Matt Welch at November 12, 2002 09:52 AM
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