Friday, January 09, 2009

Sound political philosophy from a sports guy?

The brilliant baseball writer Bill James put forth his political philosophy in a book called What Happened to the Hall of Fame. I'll quote from page 28:

It is my observation, listening to political partisans, that there is some truth in what everybody says, but that they will all distort the truth to defend their position. In my judgment, everyone on the political landscape,from Rush Limbaugh to Howard Metzenbaum (former liberal Senator from Ohio) is right about some things; I will listen to any of them and think that there is some truth in what he or she is saying. But at the same time, they all B.S. They all wear blinders. They say things they know or should know are not true, but which they feel they must say to defend the extreme positions they have taken.

Mr.James is right, though he would not make it on Hannity and Colmes or Crossfire--is there ever an independent moderate on those shows? "And now, from the center, Jack Davis!" Ann Coulter's recent book, Liberals are the Minions of Satan, is a great example of James' theory. (Disclaimer: that is not the actual title, but might as well be). She makes some valid points on media bias and the absurd glorification of single mothers. But she also makes a number of absurd, tendentious claims, such as Joe McCarthy only exposed actual Soviet spies and FOX News is completely fair and balanced(!). She hates liberal pundit Keith Olbermann, and vice versa, but to me they're more similiar than different. Neither cares about the truth; their main concern is making lots of money demonizing their opponents. Both of them grossly oversimplify the world: Bush is evil, John Edwards is evil, Sarah Palin is horrible, Sarah Palin is a virtous victim of the liberal media, etc...

Any good logic book will point out that black-or-white, absolute reasoning is invalid. True, but it often sells a lot of books or draws a lot of viewers to the TV.


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