January 17, 2007

WHAT DO THEY HAVE OTHER THAN THE PERSONAL?

The Personal Is Political (ANDREW FERGUSON, January 17, 2007, NY Sun)

The personal-is-political method is also commonly employed in its negative form: Your political position is somehow illegitimate if you haven't had certain experiences.

Opponents of the Iraq war, for example, routinely suggest that any policymaker who hasn't served in the military shouldn't send others to fight.

Never mind that this notion, by extension, would undo the tradition of civilian control of the military, and never mind that any argument about policy should be judged on its merits, independently of the people who make the argument.

The intention here is something else: to remove the issue from the realm of objective argument and plunge it into the realm of the personal, where emotion and passion hold sway.

Consider the horrifying exchange in a committee hearing last week between Senator Boxer of California and Secretary of State Rice.

Ms. Boxer grilled Ms. Rice in her trademark style, which is notable more for its exuberance than its coherence. She got personal immediately, suggesting that the administration's plan to send more troops to Iraq was illegitimate because -- well, because neither she nor Ms. Rice has children fighting in Iraq.

"I'm not going to pay a personal price," Ms. Boxer said. "You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family."

Ms. Boxer appeared to be attacking Ms. Rice for being unmarried and childless. And so, in one of those strange inversions that have become increasingly common in contemporary politics, Republicans accused Ms. Boxer of being insufficiently feminist.

Ms. Boxer's questioning of Ms. Rice, said the White House spokesman, Tony Snow, was a "great leap backward for feminism."

But Ms. Boxer's transgressions against feminism are nothing compared with her transgressions against reason and logic. Perhaps Mr. Snow was reluctant to criticize her for those because they are now almost universally shared.


The difference, of course, is that liberalism is centered on the self, so particular individual experience is a necessity to understanding anything. Universalism is the domain of the opposition Judeo-Christians.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 17, 2007 5:29 PM
Comments

See how separated from reason, how unhinged, this discussion thas become. We can imagine a legislative hearing dealing with criminal law revision asking, "Mr. Donner. do you think there should be a change in the cannibalism laws?"

Obviously, interest should be a disqualfying factor, as no one should be a judge in his own cause.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 18, 2007 12:01 AM
« NOTHING PREPARES YOU FOR THE AL EAST: | Main | EVERY SNEECH WANTS A STAR ON HIS BELLY: »