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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Good Man or Bad Man?

A debate is raging between the forces of “can’t we all get along” and the “hell no” crowd. It was started by Patterico (Patrick Frey) who said (in recounting a discussion with his daughter):

Anyway, I have told her that Obama will probably win, and she was sad. “I don’t want Obama to be my President!” she said. I told her that McCain and Obama are both good men — and although I disagree with Obama, if he wins, we have to say: “Oh well, we tried. But he will still be my President.”

She’s still not very happy. Nor am I. But I want her to learn that no matter who wins, he’s a good man trying to do what he thinks is right for the country.



And Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom who responded:

Precisely the kind of self-righteous civility that fried McCain. Want to be clapped on the back for your decorum? Fine. Just say so.

But let’s not pretend you are being honest or principled. Graciousness is one thing; praise is another.

This “good man” was involved in ACORN blackmail schemes. With an attempt to fraudulently undermine the Second Amendment by gaming court rulings. He got rich off of schemes that led to the mortgage crisis — then stood by and let others fix it in order to keep his hands clean during the final stages of an election. He has thrown in with race hustlers,”reformers” who believe that domestic terrorism was a valid form of expression, odious foreign potentates –

There is nothing at all noble about praising a man and a party who reviles you simply because in doing so you appear noble. Jews have tried that. And it’s often ended with skeletons and ash, or the twisted wreckage of a bus in Tel Aviv.

In this case, it will end with more McCains — and so more Obamas and Reids and Pelosis and Olbermans.

If that’s nobility, I’m not interested. Yes, Obama is my President. But that doesn’t mean I’m forced to forget all he’s done to get there — and all that’s been done on his behalf, either by the savage supporters who went after Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin, or by the “objective media” that sold its soul for a shot at establishing the government it desired.

A good man?

A good politician, sure. A dedicated husband and father, yes. But a good man?

Sorry. But good men don’t lie, cheat, steal, and throw longtime supporters by the wayside just so they can rise to power — even if they’ve convinced themselves they’re doing so for some Greater Good.

Because the fact is, in this country, they’re not supposed to get to decide what that is. We are.

The rest is hubris.



This led to several exchanges because Frey objected vehemently to the accusation that he was being, shall we say, politically correct. That he was mouthing platitudes to appear to be gracious and win the approval of others who value a good loser.

For the record, I am in Jeff's camp ... see here:

Congratulations? Bullshit!

There is an American habit of congratulating our opponents when we lose. And it’s appropriate when we have been bested in an equal contest. But when we have been cold cocked by our opponents and kicked to the curb by their friends, congratulations are the actions of a whipped cur.For me, in this race, congratulations are bullshit. Moreover, I have no intention of being a good loser. Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.

The discussion is interesting and actually carried out on a high level with partisans making the case for both sides.

Here’s MD in Philly:

First, as I previously said, I respect you and do not believe you have posted anything other than what you believe and have not played any “blog politics” (whatever that would mean).

Second, I am happy to not believe Democrats are evil because they believe differently. However, when specific individuals act dishonestly for political or other personal gain I do not consider that bad judgment, I consider that being morally wrong. In some terminology morally wrong and evil are grossly equivalent, others may save “evil” for particularly malevolent motives and behavior.

If I understand you correctly, I presume you consider many people you send to jail as not “evil”, but merely as making bad judgements and need a reality check as to what is and is not acceptable behavior. I certainly agree that a nonviolent offense while acting as a knucklehead is different from a pattern of sadistic violence, and the latter more readily fits the description as being evil.

Maybe 23% of Americans think partial birth abortion is ok- I would be surprised at that and hope that many of those doesn’t understand what is meant. But Obama hasn’t “just” wanted to protect that, but went beyond Nancy Pelosi and others when he wanted to guarantee the death of a child undergoing abortion, even if born alive and now it’s own living being outside of somebody’s womb. In addition, he persisted in trying to obscure his actions in this regard. That along with the multitude of bad judgements otherwise listed is problematic. I mean, we’re not talking about hanging with anti-war protesters, we’re talking about associating and furthering one’s career with someone who built bombs and blew up things. I guess you could say it is a really, really, really bad decision to assimilate and teach the views of someone who dedicates their book to Lucifer.

As far as being “our president”, does that have any boundaries? I agree that simply calling someone “a moron, he’s not my president” is not called for and is very poor form.
But-
Obama has spoken of the flawed and inadequate US constitution that needs change (his words were more strident, but I can’t quote them). If someone is in the office of president but makes clear he does not seek to uphold the Constitution is he still entitled to be called “our president”? I am not saying that is the case, but I am raising the question. If a President thinks something in the Constitution is flawed and wants to engage public debate on altering the Constitution in the accepted way, by the Amendment process, that is fine, that’s what is supposed to happen. But what if one wants to in effect alter the Constitution by packing the Supreme Court and other influential appointments, giving executive orders, and using Orwellian language and suppressing debate and dissent? If the executive branch refuses to enforce its responsibilities do we still owe allegiance to those individuals? At some point no, because all public servants take an oath to uphold the law and the constitution.

I’m not saying he will approach this level of breaking faith, but if the questions are not considered they will never get answered.



And Beldar:


I agree with — and incorporate by reference, as if fully set forth again here — Patrick’s many reservations about Obama and his bad policies. I’ll add to those that I think Obama has knowingly, and inexcusably, chosen to associate with some bad people — among whom I’d certainly include twisted dollop of evil scum Bill Ayers and convicted politician-buyer Tony Rezko. Obama’s decisions to associate with those folks, and with several organizations who shelter and attract bad people, would lead me to agree that Obama has consistently demonstrated very bad judgment.

But “bad man”? Naw, I’m just not there yet. Might get there, but not there yet.

I don’t think that’s because I’m being “noble,” and I would vigorously dispute that it’s because I’m being na├»ve. I’ll go so far as to concede that I’m deliberately giving Obama the benefit of the doubt on some of his associations, to call that merely “bad judgment” as opposed to evidence that he, himself, is also a “bad man.” And I respect Jeff, and others, who disagree, and I credit them with good faith in making that decision (at the same time I urge them to return that respect to those who haven’t).



By rls:

Patrick..may I call you Patrick? I disagree with you, and if you say that you truly believe Obama to be a good man, then I will believe that that is what you truly believe. It does sadden me that, if that is the case, then your moral code of values is vastly different than what I have interpreted in the past.

I read Jeff’s post(s) and the many comments. I read Belder’s post and the comments. Belder makes the fine distinction between Obama being a bad man and a good man. I left this comment at Belder’s:

Words have honor. Or to put it another way - linguistic integrity. I really believe to call Obama a good man is akin to never calling another man good. What would the use be?

It is something so simple, as is done countless times every day in countless restaurants across the country. When the server or the cashier asks how the meal was, the invariable, unconscionable answer is something like, “great” or “wonderful” or “excellent”. Done simply without thinking of the harm one is doing to the real infrequent “excellent” meal.

If all of ones meals are excellent, what word does one use to describe that rare extraordinary meal? Super excellent?

There is nothing wrong with acknowledging adequacy using the word “satisfactory”..one may be the recipient of some blank stare, but try it some time. I have gone as far as using the word “marginal” when it is appropriate.

It is the same as telling every person you date that you love them. What word do you then conjure up to describe that emotion when it becomes real?

I don’t have the the linguistic ability of a Jeff Goldstein, but I know, for the most part, when a descriptive word is inappropriate.


I don’t know whether Obama is bad,mean,wicked,evil or all nasty inside. I do know that according to the moral code of most moral people, he is not a good man.



And Bains:

Xrlq brings us back to the origin of this kerkuffle. Jeff did not admonish Patrick for not calling Obama a bad man, Jeff admonished Patrick for calling Obama a good man. Like Xrlq, I will not say Obama is a bad man, and like both Jeff and Patrick have acknowledged, Obama appears to me to be a good father, and is a good politician… BUT, that does not necessarily mean he is a good man.

And Patterico, while Protein Wisdom may have been unduly harsh on you, I read it as a case-in-point to a larger argument, an argument with which I, and I think you, wholly agree. (Go back to Jeff’s recounting of the Bill Bennett incident if you need a refresher.)

... Catalano and Frey aren’t the problem per se. But posts like the two on offer today most certainly are part of the problem. Somebody spends eight years telling you you’re a racist warmongering hater, you don’t respond by kissing them on the ring and pretending you’ve done so out of some manner of nobility.

You haven’t. And you’ve suggested that such behavior works.



The case made by those who advocate graciousness in defeat is partly moral but primarily political. The case is made that you can attract more adherents by showing good manners and being friendly. There is evidence that this may be true. It’s one of the characteristics of Obama himself who projects an image of studious calm.

But he has in his corner people whose job it is to demonize the opposition. He does not have to call George Bush a racist warmonger; the second coming of Hitler who has turned this country into a fascist police state that imprisons and tortures people for fun, who started a war for oil and to make profits for Halliburton, his surrogates do. He doesn’t have to question the paternity of Sarah Palin’s baby or accuse her of being a stupid airhead who is clothes crazy, his surrogates do.

The enemy defines the rules of engagement. This may be the battlefield that the Right is called on to fight. Frey is not a member of that army that is prepared to do the fighting of the kind that the Left is waging. Neither is he the candidate who will present the sunny image. He is the bystander who offers his opinion on the warriors in the arena. That is a role that most people have in any country. There’s nothing dishonorable about it.

It does remind me of Revelations 3:16.
{My apologies to Jeff Goldstein for incorrectly referring to him as Goldberg. I may have been thinking of Jonah Goldberg as I was writing. Jeff is one of my favorite bloggers and I meant no disrespect. I have corrected my error.}


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