This time the James Taranto weighs in – with style!
Cut and Run and Then Run Back
With Hillary Clinton being written off (perhaps prematurely), the eight-month general election campaign between John McCain and Barack Obama seems to be getting under way. Obama, apparently moving to the right, is now threatening military intervention in Iraq after years of demanding America's immediate surrender. As the Associated Press reports:
McCain criticized Obama for saying in Tuesday night's Democratic debate that, after U.S. troops were withdrawn, as president he would act "if al-Qaida is forming a base in Iraq."
"I have some news. Al-Qaida is in Iraq. It's called 'al-Qaida in Iraq,' " McCain told a crowd in Tyler, Texas, drawing laughter at Obama's expense. He said Obama's statement was "pretty remarkable."
Quips Glenn Reynolds: "In Obama's defense, he probably reads the New York Times, which always calls it 'Al Qaida in Mesopotamia.' That may have confused him."
Obama's response to McCain, described in the same AP dispatch, makes even less sense:
"I do know that al-Qaida is in Iraq and that's why I have said we should continue to strike al-Qaida targets," he told a rally at Ohio State University in Columbus.
"But I have some news for John McCain," Obama added. "There was no such thing as al-Qaida in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq. . . . They took their eye off the people who were responsible for 9/11 and that would be al-Qaida in Afghanistan, that is stronger now than at any time since 2001."
Obama said he intended to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq "so we actually start going after al-Qaida in Afghanistan and in the hills of Pakistan like we should have been doing in the first place."
So let's see if we have this straight. Al Qaeda in Iraq isn't worth fighting because it wouldn't be there if it weren't for Bush and McCain. Obama is going to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq to go fight in Afghanistan and Pakistan, although he will send them back to Iraq if al Qaeda are there, even though he now wants to withdraw notwithstanding al Qaeda's presence.
Yes, we can!
Let's Get Metaphysical
Mystified by the Obama phenomenon? Let Susan Neiman of the Einstein Forum, writing in the Boston Globe, explain it all to you:
Strange as it sounds, this is an election where metaphysics may count more than demographics, and focusing on the latter misses the point. Metaphysics determines what you hold to be self-evident and what you hold to be possible; what you think has substance and what you can afford to ignore. Hope is based on, or undermined by, your metaphysical standpoint. . . .
If it's a message so catchy that it has now made the rounds of cyberspace as a star-studded video, it's also one with roots as deep as Immanuel Kant. The "Critique of Pure Reason" is not easy reading, but it makes some startling claims. Kant tells us that Plato's ideal of a perfectly just state was always dismissed as a utopian dream; but if everyone had worked to realize those ideals, they would be true today. . . .
Obama's is a message to demand more–and not just for the young. His idealism is unsettling to many not because it's naive, but because it poses a challenge. If you assume that things cannot get better you have nothing to do but sit back and watch them get worse.
Yes, we Kant!
The last paragraph of Ms Neiman's comment is both perplexing and revealing in that the conclusions she draws have nothing to do with the pop philosophy she extruded in her first two paragraphs, and those conclusions themselves are merely imputed without evidence. First, she makes an assumption as to why Obama's "message" is 'unsettling," then she makes an assumption as to the number of people affected, unless, of course, she knows firsthand. And if she's right, Obama may have a bigger task ahead than he imagines, since he'll have to overcome the law of inertia..
Furthermore, it's illogical to assume, as Madam Philosopheress has, that people are challenged because they've grown lazy in the comfort of abandoned hope, and her comment shows the clear distinction between philosophy and logic. Everyone should hope Neiman sticks to the former and avoids logic entirely. Otherwise, you assume that things cannot get better, and you have nothing to do but sit back and watch them get worse.