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"Indeed, the rage of theorists to make constitutions a vehicle for the conveyance of their own crude, and visionary aphorisms of government, requires to be guarded against with the most unceasing vigilance."
     -- Joseph Story
     Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States
     Book III, § 1857.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

More on the Bennett flap.

My personal reaction to this mess was -- and still is -- who cares? I've never paid much attention to Bennett one way or another. I've certainly never looked to him for moral guidance, nor do I need his or anyone else's arguments to convince me of the importance of morals, or the implications for society of having or not having them. Lots of others have, though, and these persons are entitled to think themselves betrayed.

The debate has long since turned to, "Who denounced Bennett?" For myself, I'm not going to do it: Again, I don't care enough about Bennett even to denounce him. I'm thinking, though, about all those who propped him up as a public moralist and foisted him upon a National audience, that betrayed audience I just mentioned. All those public voices who touted Bennett have, in respect to that same audience, a simple choice: Either they denounce the betrayer and the betrayal, or they acknowledge themselves complicit. The "no big deal" idea is a non-starter. And does anyone seriously think that this audience -- the one that found Bennett attractive and persuasive in the first place -- is going to be the least bit receptive to the hair-splitting arguments of Clinton-style parsing?

It's an ugly mess, and you made it: Clean it up, or be swept out along with it.

Back to entitlements: Bennett's opponents are entitled to crow about this, as well, and I hope they keep it up. Among other things (not least of which is the pleasure of watching an overinflated balloon publicly dance out the agony of its death-fart), it might encourage some long-overdue introspection on the proper line between private action and public policy. But those opponents would do well to consider how this applies to themselves, as well.

There is one other thing they ought to consider alongside it. The argument against hypocrisy is a moral argument; those who are enjoying themselves splattering Bennett's hypocrisy all over the National debate are assisting his cause.

-- posted by Clayton 5/08/2003 06:06:00 PM

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