July 22, 2011

The  Opinion Page of the Startribune (7-18) printed a political commentary you don’t say  by L k. Hanson. My attention riveted on his quoting Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)  – British philosopher and mathematician. “The opinions that are held with passion are always those of which no good ground exists: indeed the passion is the measure of the holder’s lack of rational conviction.”   Russell’s quotation states succinctly what I attempted to share with students, namely “that of which you are most certain of that be most critical”.   Hanson’s editorial cartoon has a caricature of Michelle Bachman and her husband. He responds ‘”yes, dearest” when she states:  ‘It goes like this, honey:  anytime any reporter asks you a question, you just put your hands over your heart and yell “NO NEW TAXES! NO GAY MARRIAGE! NO ABORTIONS1 NO  WELFARE SCUM! ONLY REAL PATRIOTS IN PUBLIC OFFICE”   It’s what people wanna hear. believe me.’  It would, perhaps, be a mistake to blithely dismiss Bachman’s presidential candidacy “of summer”.  Editorial negative political cartoon not withstanding in the Iowa polls she runs neck and neck with Mitt Romney prior to the presidential primary in Iowa next year.

Recently at the onset of  discussion in Congress to raise the national debt limit David Brooks’ New York Times op-ed (7/6) To deal of the century, they say ‘no, no, no’  was printed in the Startribune.  Brooks notes the Democrats  agreed to raise the debt ceiling with  significant budget cuts to revenue increases. Brooks states this is an “astonishing concession” and the “deal of the century”.  A “normal Republican Party” would embrace the opportunity to engage the Democrats but  the party “has been “infected by a faction . . .who do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms”.  Brooks interestingly concludes this “faction” takes a small  “piece of economic policy and turned it into a sacred fixation.”   Bertrand Russel  might well name this ideological political stance as based on opinions of passion by holders with lack of rational conviction.”

“Sacred fixations” and “opinions of passion”  might find it difficult to practice “politics as the art of the possible.” based upon “rational conviction'”.     

Constant gridlock, continual political posturing , and persistent election day politics is not the practice of  “politics as the art of the possible.  Politics as an art recognizes tacitly that cooperation is essential, that it shares power, makes compromises, and accepts opposition as an element in all political life. This applies to both political partys or party factions.

My recent blog:  “Cerebrating the Constitution. July 4, 2011” makes analysis of Bachman”s view that the Framers of the Constitution were “constitutional conservatives”. There is here an “element of truth”  but she and the Tea Party have a mistaken take on the Founders of the Constitution.  She and Tea Party adherents misinterpret the nature of the Federal Government’s taxing power and the role of the national government in American life and politics.  Also an older blog (click New York Times on SEARCH) ” New York Times – The Political  Landscape,  April 29, 2011″ describes the ideological shift to the right  of the Republican Party leaving party stalwarts in a difficult position. A drum beat of “No!, No!, No!” may prove counter-productive.

Published by profbartling1

Retired professor Concordia University, St. Paul, Mn. Taught mainly American History. Also taught in other areas of history, philosophy, and theology,


  1. Today, 7/27, the editorial in The Nation (August) had virtually the same approach as David Brooks’ op. ed. in the New York Times on 7/6. Titled: DEBT CEILING DELUSIONS it noted that with the debt ceiling deadline approaching the president offered the Republicans with the “conservatives dream” – spending cuts and restruturing “the Democratic legacy” of Social Security and Medicare. The proposal was rejected as it would be achieved partially through tax increase. The NATION observed: “To Republicans, shared sacriifice is anathema.” Attention rather,the Nation’s editorial concluded,should focus on job growth and care for the elderly who can’t afford a smaller Social Security check.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: