Tuesday, July 01, 2003

NOTHING MATTERS AND SO WHAT IF IT DID. Jonah Goldberg calls Andrew Sullivan on an alleged inconsistency.

An NRO reader writes: "What I don't understand is why it matters to you that Sullivan's argument does not clarify the principle at stake. You have written extensively about the forgivability of inconsistency in argument and the usefulness of hypocrisy in public policy. Why can't Sullivan appeal to these things as well?"

Goldberg replies, "...I am judging him by his standards not my own. 2) I've never said that consistency is a useless concept or that inconsistency is necessarily preferable to consistency. Rather, I've said it depends on the circumstances. 3) Even when I've taken the position that inconsistency can be forgiven, I've also argued that inconsistency is certainly fair game for debate and discussion. It would be nuts of me to promote a position which forced me to applaud people for being inconsistent. I'll stop there."

I don't see how Goldberg's Rules of Order reduces to anything more exalted than this: I make the rules up, and apply or disallow them as I see fit.

Given with the current Administration's "la-la-I-can't-hear-you" approach to the WMD question, and the recent Volokhian deconstruction of Dick Cheney, I am beginning to think that power has affected American conservatives adversely. Are they, as one says, drunk with power? Well, in months past they seemed so, roaring and whooping about the Iraqi bonfire. But they are less cheerful now -- hungover, perhaps, or in that cold-grey-dawn stage of drunkenness that infuses any but the most boorish consciousness with existential confusion.

These guys have been pretending for so long -- about the war, about the economy, about the nature of their fellow-citizens -- that they have forgotten what reality is. It was weird enough when they told us that it didn't matter whether Hussein had weapons of mass destruction -- all the while scouring every lead for proof that he did -- but when they begin to insist, as Volokh does, that they didn't absolutely positively say that Hussein had these weapons, we are experiencing a flight from reality resembling, in its disorderliness and desperation, Bonaparte's retreat from Russia.

Now the U.S. Government has, per Radio Free Europe (!), "suspended military assistance to more than 30 nations which have failed thus far or have refused to sign agreements with the U.S. giving Americans immunity from prosecution by the International Criminal Court..." International justice, it would seem, is only legitimate when pursued by U.S. military invasion.

And these guys are always talking about values.

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