Thursday, February 15, 2007


I see John's point.

I just heard an interview with Brownback on WNYC. I was impressed. He's definitely trying to stake out a consistent pro-life position, and seems to take seriously issues like genocide, poverty, and prison reform. Those three things pretty much top my list of things I care about (although it was a short interview, and foreign policy/war on terror stuff did not come up). For example, he wants to apologize to Native Americans for the crimes inflicted upon them.

I don't think I could ever vote for the guy, or anybody else who I imagine would answer "yes" to the question "Should the United States be a Christian state?"*

Which got me thinking about an interesing reversal of What's the matter with Kansas?. A candidate could line up very well with me on policy and still lose my vote on culture-war type rhetoric.

More importantly, Brownback strikes me as serious and intelligent, the kind of opposition I'd want to have. I'd rather lose to someone who is reflective, who makes an effort for intellectual consistency, and who is thinking about how to make life better for the maximum number of people. Bush has made the culture war worse by being such an idiot, it's impossible for me to react to him in anything other than knee-jerk fashion. Whatever he proposes seems doomed merely by virtue of the fact that he is the one proposing it.

As I say, I'm not voting for Brownback, and I'll be kind of horrified if he wins, but I'm glad he's in the running. Maybe there's hope that this election will have some substance to it.

*CORRECTION: as phrased, this appears to be a direct quotation from the interview. It is not. It is my posing a hypothetical question and answer. As far as I know, Brownback has not said that he thinks the United States should be a Christian state. I wrote this because he clearly brings a zeal to the office of the presidency that I find off-putting. In an attempt to make this point clearer, I added "I imagine."

The audio clip of the whole interview should come up in the next day or so.


JohnMcG said...

I'd be interested to see the context for the "Christian state" answer, but I agree that it is troublesome.

This post affirms my belief that Bush, despite having pro-life positions, has been a net negative for the pro-life movement. He has done nothing to lead public opinion on these issues, and by pursuing things like preemptive war, the death penalty, and torture, he has helped confirm the chestnut that pro-lifers are more about controlling women than protecting human life.

august said...

Sorry, mea culpa. That was not his answer to a posed question, it was a sense I got from interview. I will correct in the post.

I'll also provide a link to the interview when it comes up.

I think you are right about Bush. I also think he's not the only one.

august said...

Also -- I enjoyed the essay you tagged about wikipedia. I wrote something similar (although less specific, and therefore not as good) here.

I don't know if I find myself convincing, but the ideas strike me as intersting.

Oh, and not to sound like Sullivan, but there are circumstances in which I could imagine myself voting for a pro-life candidate. But I'd have to find the opposition really, really scary (see Jim Webb, VA).

JohnMcG said...

Here's what I think the tension is.

An article contributed to by a panel of experts would likely be superior than an article written by a single expert.

But, we do want to cling to the idea that we (and thus, others) are capable of fantastic individual contributions.

So I would rather start a new article on something I perceive myself to be an expert on than edit dozens in which I have passing knowledge. There's more possibility for individual recognition there.

By the same token, I probably won't bother to do the grunt work of providing proper stewardship of my article in the face of misguided edits.

I think the Wikipedia experiment somewhat failed to account for the incentives, and counted on altruism and goodwill.

There's wisdom in crowds, but not much money or recognition for being part of the crowd.

I dunno -- I think there's some good PhD theses on human behavior that could come out of the wiki experiment.

august said...

The interview I heard is here. Click on "Yellow Brick Road to the White House."