06 February 2004

Ploddingly persuing pragmatism


Once upon a time, Michael Kinsley wrote well constructed, insightful opinion articles. But for quite some time he was lost in a self referential cocoon of loony liberal platitudes with some Bush Obsession Syndrome for spice. But some one must have arranged an intervention, because Kinsley’s columns have become much better in the last few months. This example had me laughing at loud, even when he bashes Republicans. It’s a good read, which I hate to ruin by excerpting but hey - that’s what I do.

Democrats are cute when they’re being pragmatic. They furrow their brows and try to think like Republicans. Or as they imagine Republicans must think. They turn off their hearts and listen for signals from their brains. […]

Nevertheless, Democrats persevere. […] “If I was a Republican,” they ask themselves, “which of these Democratic candidates would I be most likely to vote for?” And by the time this is all over, most of the serious contenders will have been crowned the practical choice for at least a moment. First it was Lieberman the Centrist. “I’m actually for Dennis Kucinich,” a Democrat might say, “because I like his position on nationalizing all the churches. But I’m supporting Joe Lieberman. His views on nearly everything are repellent to me, and I think that’s a good sign.” […]

Some Democrats cheated and looked into their hearts, where they found Howard Dean. But he was so appealing that he scared them. This is no moment to vote for a guy just because he inspires you, they thought. If he inspires me, there must be something wrong with him. So, Democrats looked around and rediscovered John Kerry. He’d been there all along, inspiring almost no one.

[…] just to be completely businesslike, Democrats are taking the opportunity to check out John Edwards. He certainly is good-looking, though maybe not in a presidential way. He lacks the uniform, but he has a Southern accent, which is almost as good if you’re trying to seduce those non-liberals. Aspiring pragmatists also have noted recent press reports that Edwards has a stunning ability to sway an audience. I’m not looking to be swayed myself, our Democrat thinks. No need to sway me this year; my views don’t matter, even to me. But swaying the heathenry would be good. […]

If political pragmatism is defined as thinking like a Republican, it’s no surprise that Republicans do it better. Four years ago, in a roughly analogous situation, it was decided that the Republican candidate for president should be the less impressive of the two political sons of the man who had most recently lost them the White House. A far from obvious choice. Decided by whom? If you’re going to be pragmatic, that’s just the kind of question you don’t ask. It was decided, OK? On the issues that divided their party, his views were hard to fathom and stayed that way. He was rich in valuable inexperience. And so, with one voice, millions of Republicans shouted a mighty, “Well, I’m glad that’s settled.”

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THIS JUST IN: Weird "sort of but not really a" law proposed in California

[source, source]

A resolution has been proposed in the California Assembly that would require building codes to conform to ancient Chinese tradition. According to state Assemblyman Leland Yee, building design and location must be sensitive to feng shui to assure harmonious energy flow.

Yee’s resolution isn’t meant to become law or force cities to change how buildings are constructed. Instead, Yee said, it would encourage building officials to accommodate the concept and be more sensitive to a cultural practice that can improve work and living spaces.

It’s not really clear as to what Assemblyman Yee wants. He proposes a law but says he doesn’t want it to be a law, he just wants it to make officials more “sensitive.” Whatever that means.

I’m sure that this makes sense in California, which to a large extent explains why the rest of the country has a certain jaundiced view of California.

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