July 25th, 2009
A bit of amusement. I was reminded of Europeans treating the Monica Lewinsky thing with a measure of humor about how conservative we were in our values when it was well known that some leaders in Europe had affairs.
Now we can laugh back: Hey Italy, at least our president slept with an intern, not a call girl!
(No, I don't really care beyond that. I don't think that scandal is worse than Clinton's affair and so it deserves about as much moral outrage: namely none at all.)
It does seem odd that Italians are up in arms about it though -- they had a porn star elected to Parliament!
No, it's not like with celebrities. Unlike celebrities, politicians directly affect our daily lives - indeed our very survival. Thus, their tastes and behaviour in all aspects is of interest. And it doesn't require becoming an expert in their sex lives to get an incling about their personal morality, but keeping an eye on statistics and what they say, both directly and between the lines, is very telling. And of course, understanding the basic social context of the nation they're from an in helps very much as well.
All this comes from being cynical enough to realize that my own views in these matters govern both my actions and the policies I would like supported. I expect it is the same for them. Thus, their affairs are of direct public interest, even if they're not a high priority.
And yes, I understand why you thought it amusing that Berlusconi flaunting dozens of paid lovers and not wanting to talk about them causes him to lose some popularity while the world was stunned and amused that the president of the United States was dragged in front of government hearings for getting a BJ and not wanting to talk about it.
I'm just pointing out how silly I find the comparison. I'm not trying to be a dick about it, but you're not making that easy either, you know.
I'm not trying to be a dick about it, but you're not making that easy either, you know.
To be honest, it's the only way I know of to get you to acknowledge what I've said instead of endlessly posting the same three comments.
I wish that were a joke, but I've tried a variety of different tactics when discussing things with you and the one which leads to the fewest misunderstandings and misreadings is to be right on the edge of insulting.
Unlike celebrities, politicians directly affect our daily lives - indeed our very survival. Thus, their tastes and behaviour in all aspects is of interest.
I suspect you've probably seen the comparison which asks who you would elect to public office (I'll spare you the misleading prose that normally goes into it):
1) a complete drunk
2) a womanizer who was known to associate with gangsters
3) a guy who didn't drink, didn't smoke, and was a vegetarian.
Those selective descriptions are based on three real people -- Churchill, FDR, and Hitler, respectively.
To be fair, I hold to what seems to be a very unfashionable concept -- that formal logic is right about ad hominem arguments being fallacious.
(I'm not sure why that's fallen out of favor -- maybe it's because people believe just a little bit more in determinism and the possibility that if you understand everything about a person, then you can predict what they are going to do. Maybe it's because high speed computing and the ability to run accurate simulations of various phenomena. Who knows?)
Edited at 2009-07-26 07:43 pm (UTC)
I acknowledged what you said from the start; that I disagree doesn't mean I do not understand. And I'm not making the claim that any one thing should be seen in isolation - indeed, the very examples you provide show why. Plus, none of those three held to particularly good policies on civil liberties and abortion, just to take a couple of semi-random points I happen to find important.
The point isn't the logic here, but the premises. If a person makes decisions about law based on their moral conviction, I would very much like to know what their moral conviction is, as I can't very well look at the laws that will be proposed during the candidates term of office and see his decisions beforehand.
Things would be a lot simpler if people didn't act from their convictions, but from a position of evidence and logic. But as long as I can't expect that from politicians, an informed view of their views is about as good as I can get.