Monday, December 13, 2004


Then I'll take Eric Alterman and Thomas Frank talking to Sam Seder on the Majority Report on Air America. Just read Alterman's blog today and found something very useful--more useful than anything I've yet found in Lakoff's "Don't Think Of An Elephant" (still not finished!):

In principle, I think it’s wrong that foreign-born Americans cannot become president. I mean, who cares? Lots of people who would make great presidents were not born in the U.S. and, in principle, nobody should be penalized for where he happened to be born. A citizen is a citizen is a citizen.

On the other hand, almost everything in this country will suck a great deal more if we elect yet another Republican next time around, and Arnold’s eligibility would make that more likely. So I’m against it. Who cares about the “principle?” My acting on principle is not going to do anybody any good save the fact that I get to feel self-righteous. But reducing the likelihood of another four or eight years of Republican misrule sure will, especially to the people living on the margins, most vulnerable to the various cruelties of extremist Republican rule. To me that’s an easy choice. If you need a “principle,” to make you feel better, I chose utilitarianism. (A second argument against principle in this case is that the Republicans have none—see “Bush vs. Gore”-- and their opponents cripple themselves if they act upon theirs. But I don’t even need to go that far.)

As he points out, this is part and parcel of the Republicans' entire winning strategy: talk up the principle, then do whatever the hell you want. It's loathsome, but it's reality. We should do the same.

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