Saturday, March 08, 2014

The Five Minutes Hate of Chait

Jonathan Chait wrote "The Democratic version of idealism emerged during and after the Clinton administration," This statement implies that Jimmy Carter is not and has never been an idealist.

That is crazy.

My comment

There is only one way to understand your use of "idealism." To you it means killing people for ideals (this also explains how you can imagine that Bush believes in Democracy and freedom in spite of the fact that he also believes he had the power to lock up anyone anywhere indefinitely without trial (and did so).

I generally respect you and the only complaint I usually have with this blog is that you don't post enough. But your definition of idealism convinces me that your inner idiot -- the one which advocated invading Iraq, still lives. You now understand that that decision was insane, but you stick to the insane idea that idealists who don't kill don't count.

If you don't equate idealism with a form of killing, then why did you write the passage I quote ? I ask for information. I think you can present no other explanation.

Note I am not a pacifist and agree that sometimes our ideals require us to kill people. The reason I am appalled is that you don't seem to think anything but killing could ever be the result of ideals.

Of course it is also clear that you think that foreign policy which doesn't involve killing people amounts to nothing.

Also the subtitle is garbled.

Chait's claim is that Obama is a realist but not a Realist, so this is an error "What Is Obama’s Foreign Policy Ideology? Realism — not the same thing as realism!" it can be corrected to "What Is Obama’s Foreign Policy Ideology? Realism is not the same thing as realism!" or to "What Is Obama’s Foreign Policy Ideology? realism — not the same thing as Realism!

Finally, as written it is equivalent to writing "It is realism - not the same thing as realism" The capital R in the subtitle just indicates that the word is the first of the sentence. An irregular single r as in my second correction is meaningful. Capitalizing the first word in a sentence indicates nothing.


reflectionephemeral said...

Funny, I just dropped by here after seeing your comment on Chait's post on demographics. The official media myth on the 1970s & 1980s has it that Ronald Reagan crushed dour, divided Democrats with a sunny optimism that let America be America again.

But as Larry Bartels has pointed out, economic conditions shape our political perceptions:

"In the U.S., voters replaced Republicans with Democrats and the economy improved. In Britain and Australia, voters replaced Labor governments with conservatives and the economy improved. In Sweden, voters replaced Conservatives with Liberals, then with Social Democrats, and the economy improved. In the Canadian agricultural province of Saskatchewan, voters replaced Conservatives with Socialists and the economy improved. In the adjacent agricultural province of Alberta, voters replaced a socialist party with a right-leaning funny-money party created from scratch by a charismatic radio preacher, and the economy improved. In Weimar Germany, where economic distress was deeper and longer-lasting, voters rejected all of the mainstream parties, the Nazis seized power, and the economy improved. In every case, the party that happened to be in power when the Depression eased dominated politics for a decade or more thereafter."

Thornton Hall said...

Chait is indispensable when it comes to seeing the realities of domestic policy. On foreign policy it might even be the case that he himself is guilty of the kind of error that he is so insightful in diagnosing in the GOP: an ideological worldview that requires being wrong as a matter of principle. Maybe not.

Either way, "Realism" is a useless construct in this case. Obama's overarching ideology is "Anti-stupidism