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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

When Interest Group Politics Goes Wrong, Really Wrong

I just saw this story on Drudge, about NARAL's ad on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts and felt compelled to post about it. You can read the Annenberg Center's report here, which calls the ad "false."

It's certainly true that in the rough and tumble world of politics that the first casualty of any air war (ads) is the truth, followed closely by nuance, complexity, and perspective - just to name a few. Twisting, bending, and, let's be honest, lying, are to be expected.

But, from time to time, something comes along that surprises even "faux world-weary" jaded folks like myself. If the Annenberg FactCheck proves true, the NARAL ad would represent one of the lowest examples of political rhetoric - right up there with the Willie Horton ad run against Michael Dukakis.

I don't claim to be a legal scholar, but it seems that Roberts has earned pretty solid support from legal scholars on both sides. That, of course, didn't stop the predetermined interest group blitz, of which the NARAL ad is but one example. Others include conservative groups making Roberts out to be a paragon Originalist who will save the nation from those nasty "activist judges." Not to mention that those warning most against activist judges also fear justices who are too far removed from the hustle of daily life. Or, as Dahlia Lithwick put it more eloquently
But I am most baffled by the "out-of-touch" argument—which seems to suggest that judges must pass some sort of current-events test in order to be effective on the bench. It becomes even more baffling when one considers that so many advocates of an "in-touch" judiciary believe that current morals and mores shouldn't matter at all when a judge interprets the law. If you're truly an "Originalist," for example, the only society you need be intimately in touch with is that of the framers of the Constitution.
The Roberts nomination started the expected interest group air war with the expected pre-determined themes. It almost surprises one that left-of-center groups should expect a Republican nominated justice to be pro-choice (and that Republicans expect a Democratic nominee be pro-life). I'm surprised that such groups still manage to gin up faux-outrage (whether that be outrage at his nomination or outrage that his nomination go without question) at a nominee of which so little is known (although much more now than when he was nominated).

Setting aside the unsurprising debate on the nominee's opinion on abortion, and the equally unsurprising revelation that he probably does not (like most conservatives) favor affirmative-action, I'm still looking for a reason to think that the debate surrounding Roberts is something more than a pro-forma political sideshow featuring catchphrases and buzzwords from some interest group flack.

Until then, the impression I get is (and a lot of you, those of you still reading, that is, probably are yawningly unsurprised by this revelation) that John Roberts is someone who has a history of being that guy who always pulled the "A" in class without ever talking in section or writing something controversial. He's not flamboyant. He hasn't been gunning to be a poster-boy of conservative judicial thought all his life or cultivated a cult following of ideological ditto-heads(unlike some other nominees rumored to have been on the short-list). He seems, from most accounts, to be a smart and accomplished, yet bland, guy.

In short, he's not the type of person who would write for a blog.

And if for no other reason, I'm thinking that his nomination is going to sail through unless someone discovers that one occasion when John Roberts (in a legal fashion - or otherwise!) acted like Clay Capp on one of his "good" weekends.

We now resume our regularly scheduled summer blog slacking. You can, however, expect more frequent posts from me after this week, when my summer employment officially ends. More on that soon.


At 1:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FactCheck is almost as biased as Drudge, though neither is usually outright dishonest.

You are clearly biased, because the number of truly outraging and wildly mendacious things that go on every day don't seem to get any kind of a rise out of you, until this peccadillo perpetrated by the left sends you blubbering and quivering with anger to your keyboard.

This ad is mostly just fine.
Yes, the FactCheck people say the ad is false. But even they don't mean it; they acknowledge that the meat of the allegation (Roberts filed briefs on behalf of these guys) is true.

I don't support, and think NARAL should be at least a little ashamed of, the claim that Roberts 'excused' violence. Lawyers are lawyers and they do their job. Yes, this conclusion is unjustified -- but it stems directly from a raw factual statement that the viewer can then interpret for herself in order to disagree with that larger claim.

Not trying to defend that sentence in itself, but the rest of the ad is fine. And this is really not worth your precious once-a-month posting effort. This is how political discourse works in this country now, thanks to the guy who nominated Roberts, and it's pretty clear that this ad isn't really going to hurt him. He'll sail through confirmation, so don't poop yourself too quickly.

In contrast, I have five words for you: let's do a little case study to consider whether you're the feeblest and least credible moralist of all time or what:






Heard of 'em? Changed the course of history.


Not "Hey, that clinic was bombed AFTER this guy bombed his clinic, it's totally different!" deceit. Not "Hey, that lady was bombed by a DIFFERENT homicidal maniac than the one the nominee worked for!"
Not "It really isn't nice to claim that someone's ideology is revealed by the cases he chooses to work on."

Straight-up lies rising up out of Cambodia thirty-five years ago and the feverishly throbbing bile-engorged xyphoid process of Karl Rove.

Heard of another ad? "Wolves"? From the Bush campaign itself. Claimed Kerry was weak among Senators on defense. Opposite of the case by any rational measure.

Oh, hey, how about the claim endlessly parroted that Kerry was the most liberal Senator in the Senate? As close to a lie as you can get without having to tighten your sphincter so your sympathetic nervous activity doesn't bury the needle.

So hey, Jamal, why don't you take your appalled little self on out of the public sphere? This NARAL ad is penny-ante stuff and it's the height of chutzpah for anyone content with this President to pretend that they're shocked and outraged by it. It's this discourse times a thousand that got us the government we have.

That said, I think Roberts is a pretty decent nominee.

You will not be suprised to see that after eviscerating your puny dialectical carcass once again I am content to sign myself


PS. When are you going to acknowledge that your position on the Downing Street Memo was indefensible and that your argumentation on behalf of yourself was outdone in puniness only by the heft of your 'evidence' in support? You got shellacked, buddy, by FACTS. And more are coming out all the time. Show some humility.

At 1:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"One of the lowest examples of political rhetoric."

What a joke. This claim is beyond laughable.

You're really so much more of a poser than even you realize.

Do you have any notion how dirty electoral politics is? Have you been paying attention to ANYTHING since about 1990? On any level? There are school board elections fifty times nastier than this, and ninety times more dishonest.

You need to read the LBJ biographies to learn just a smidge about the system and its incentive structures before you pretend to be engaged with politics. Politics ain't the IOP, and your pale, flabby, and hyperallergic moral sensibilities, atrophied to toddler levels and schooled and directed only ad hoc by MATT DRUDGE, of all people, are pretty laughable players in the big game. Your taking a moral stand in this arbitrary way is like Emperor Palpatine playing up his sexiness in order to get somebody's loyalty.

"One of the lowest examples of political rhetoric."
What an ignorant and smugly untutored statement that is. I've got to quit coming by this site; if it weren't for the occasional self-caricaturing cameo by Paloma I'd swear off it altogether.


At 1:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just read the rest of your post, after the first three paragraphs, and agree with it.

It's a nasty dig at Clay Capp though, and totally gratuitous. Way to be THAT guy.


At 3:35 PM, Blogger Jamal Sprucewood said...


Thanks for welcoming me back.

Obviously from my post I think that Roberts will be confirmed, and I'm not at all worried that the NARAL ad will hurt him. I'm also very well aware of SBVT, and the only reason I didn't blog about them was because this blog didn't exist during the election. Just because I didn't mention every ridiculously misleading ad in political history doesn't mean that I don't understand how "dirty" electoral politics is. Willie Horton was the first that jumped to mind. I could have easily mentioned the ad suggesting that electing Goldwater (who now appears tame by comparison to today's conservatives) would lead to nuclear war, the ad Ronald Reagan ran against Walter Mondale which suggested Mondale didn't even recognize the Soviet Union as a security threat (the "Bear" ad on which "Wolves" was so clearly based), etc. There's several in every election, not just 2004.

The reason for my posting, other than I saw the story and had a few minutes to respond, was that I wish electoral politics were not, in fact, this way. I know that this has been the norm since time began, and looking at dirty politics during the Revolutionary Era (and just about any era in US History) it seems that they may have been just as bad if not worse than today, but that doesn't mean that I have to like it or accept it. This is not being naive, because I don't pretend that it doesn't happen (and yes, local elections can be a lot worse). Hell, I've experienced a lot of things in campus politics that real life politicos could learn from.

What disturbs me is the readiness you have for accepting the NARAL ad, misleading though it may be, in the same posting in which you condemn Karl Rove for running the same things from the right. Of course SBVT had wider impact (I'm not convinced it was the primary reason Kerry lost and "changed" history...that's a bit of a stretch), but only because of the situation in which it was used. Both SBVT and the NARAL ad are problematic because their effectiveness essentially relies on misrepresentation and misleading their audience.

It's not a matter of a fact simply being put out there for the public to decide. The implication of the NARAL ad is that Roberts excused abortion-clinic bombing, which is not what happened. While the bomber may have been party to the case, that was not the case decided. It's like, just to use an example, a letter of recommendation that I write coming back to haunt me a decade or more later because the person I wrote the letter for (to get into, say, grad school) turns out to be the next Una-Bomber. A rough analogy, but I think it works. That ad intentionally misleads the public, so I don't think that the public fairly gets a chance to decide. Same with SBVT. Both things intentionally designed to make a hit and take advantage of the public being generally uninformed on these issues. It happens all the time, but that's really not an excuse for its existence. And I'm well aware of the studies showing that while the public dislikes negative ads they have marked responses to them.

Finally, Jim, I'm well aware of the things going on around us. What I choose to blog about at any given moment is what suits my fancy given the time available. I don't see how it's any indication of the level of discourse going on anywhere. I happen to think that nastiness in electoral politics should be a non-partisan issue (and it is non-partisan as it happens on both sides). Thanks for suggesting the Caro biographies on LBJ, read 'em all, twice; they happen to be some of my favorite books. Oh, and about the IOP. I was never involved in my time there and actually the only events I went to that come to mind are when Robert Caro came to speak and Wes Clark's Hardball appearance. Quite frankly, your condenscension is growing old. It brings to mind something you said a while back about my argumentation not living up to the University I allegedly attend. I enjoy sparring with you, although it's clear that you think that in any argument or subject you've got me beat.

I think, though, you need not look much farther than your own keyboard for "ignorant and smugly untutored" statements. Coupled with the complete assurance that your position is unassailable is the strange condescension with which you approach arguing with me. At first I took it personally, and then your comments about Paloma seeped through and I realized that it was something more akin to a hyperallergenic reaction to positions which you do not personally subscribe. Given your current position at the University which we both allegedly attend(ed?), I can only feel pity for your conservative students. Furthermore, I should add that if anything during my time as an alleged student, I learned that wit is often a clever (and convincing) substitute for intellect. And while I have no doubt that you have ample amounts of both wit and intellect (after all, look at the University you allegedly are a part of), there are times when I wonder if the latter is in fact not commensurate with the former. Certainly arguing in favor of the NARAL ad because worse has happened and then chiding me for being a political greenhorn (which is not actually true) as evidence of your superior position leaves me wondering.

And with that, I'll take my lowly three ganglia and crawl back into the Malebolge of Karl Rove's Hell from which I awoke this morning.

Seriously, I do enjoy reading your comments though. But in the future, let's restrain from apopletic comments. See, after reading the rest of the post there are things which we can generally agree on. And that crack at Clay, it's my way of saying hi since I haven't heard from him all summer - not a dig.

At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have a few minutes here to reply to your post; I developed quite a string of paragraphs about it yesterday but then my computer crashed.

Look, if you are aware of other things going on in the world, why don't you ACT like it? This country is at WAR, and you write about politics-as-usual trivia. There is almost nothing about our identities not at stake in this decade -- including, pragmatically, the question of how we can possibly change the geopolitical climate so we can be global leaders rather than jingoists or isolationists in the coming century, which promises to be still more cataclysmic than the previous one at the rate we're going.

So why is your 'fancy' struck by bemusing little tidbits and a partisan snipe on TV? Do you think it's possible that you should *educate* your fancy according to moral constraints? Do you consider analysis and commentary to be a moral act, or is whimsy a perfectly valid response to a time of intense discursive crisis? I would submit to you that crying 'wolf' at the presence of a couple of ants makes you complicit in a wide array of bloodthirstinesses -- including that of the fanatical terrorist-wolves whose bidding this President has done inadvertently almost from day one (I except his excellent 9/20/01 speech from this).

My post did not defend the NARAL ad, or accept it; it deplored the misleadingness of it. My attack on your attack on the ad is not the same as defending the ad; if you think one has to be either with something or against it, you've got a lot more thinks coming.

To respond to your last paragraph, which hides its defensive hysteria well:

My challenges to you have been -- well, first of all, they have not been 'condescending.' I think you should learn what that word means if it's going to be the heart of any paragraph you write. I think you're trying to say that I've been mean to you, which is the opposite of condescending. You could say that I've been 'mean,' but that would be whiny, so you translate that into a fancier word that allows you to pretend to be demanding respect when you're really asking me to be less hard on you.

You're using the term 'condescension' to refer to its opposite: a challenging posture that affords you the respect of assuming that you can be persuaded to think differently.

Now, this particular posture is sometimes mean -- usually in a tongue-in-cheek way, but certainly with some earnestness -- because it is truly about choices YOU have made in your discourse. It addresses your ATTITUDE in your posts, not your opinions. When on this website have you ever condescended to express an actual OPINION on an issue? Almost never. We are not disagreeing about WHAT to think, we are disagreeing about HOW to think. And to say that my intolerance has to do with our differing stances on some issue or other is a total red herring. My intolerance is for complacent and unrigorous thinking, not for any substantive outcome.

(As I pass over in silence your circumlocutory way of suggesting that I'm a dimbulb -- something you should SHOW, not just assert -- I also pass over in angry silence your vile insinuation that I treat people differently based on their opinions. This is nothing but a slur, and is laughable given how remarkably agile and patient, and NEVER condescending, I am in my day-to-day life, at enormous and thoughtful effort.)

So you seem to think that you're the conservative (rather than the female) Oleanna, but there is no power issue at stake here. Nor is there an issue of ideology at stake. What IS at stake is the way we prioritize our concerns as citizens -- as I said before, HOW we think, not WHAT we think.

This being the case, I return to my initial point in this post: if you're a serious student of American political history and civic morality with something to say about conduct in the public sphere -- why don't you ACT like it? Writing is an act, and all that knowledge and savvy you're so proud of is meaningless if you never deploy it on things that matter. As Twain said, roughly, "He who will not read great books has no advantage over he who cannot"; in this case the same thing applies to morally alert discourse. Why don't you SHOW that have a decent sense of perspective and priority, instead of claiming, grotesquely, that the worst political rhetoric in a long time can be found in a single ad tarring a lawyer with being associated with an extremist (of his end of the spectrum) that he's once encountered. NARAL's smudging of the distinctions between a lawyer and a partisan, and a partisan and an extremist, is pure beanbag. Bringing the country to war for reasons no ten-thousandth of the population understands truly -- now THAT'S dishonesty worth some ink.

As I said, I respect your deontological approach to public discourse; yes, dishonesty matters no matter where it is. But there is a role also for teleology: the ends of dishonesty, its effects, and the shocking irresponsibility that might underlie it, should play a major role in our choices about what to spend verbal energy on. Incompetence, in many jobs, is immoral; and that's more true the more important the job is. In this blog you have been eager, by commission and omission, to disregard truly consequential public matters in favor of trivia, and to celebrate others' various ways of doing so (cf. the Kinsley editorial). This WAY of thinking -- favoring the less threatening and less challenging topics over the Big Lies, the ones that have incredibly serious real-world effects -- offends me. Not because of any opinion, but because of the choice for comfortable politics-as-usual topics instead of ones proper to a period of national crisis.

It's as if you've chosen to discuss Pres. Bush's exhortation to Go Shopping after 9/11 on the merits: the point is not that I would disagree with your conclusion that we should or shouldn't go shopping, the point is that you need to be smarter than to think that such matters are anything but a distraction from our true civic role as the source of all governmental power, including the military.

A better analogy, perhaps: you've got some serious nautical knowledge and know a ton about geography and North Atlantic currents and such. You have access to a wide array of the right people. And you keep sending notes to the officers of the Titanic expressing concern about the arrangements of the deck chairs. I don't disrespect your opinions about deck chairs; nor would I disrespect, if you expressed it, your conclusion that the ship is moving at an appropriate speed (though I would disagree). What I deplore and challenge is your self-deception, your selling yourself short, and your allowing your 'fancy' to dictate where your soul should preside, along with a decent awareness for the future of this nation and the well-being of many many innocents overseas.

Let me point out one simple self-deception, since I believe in showing things as well as asserting them. You say that at first you took my criticisms of your blog conduct 'personally.' First of all, this is nonsensical, since I DON'T KNOW WHO YOU ARE and could not have been directing anything at your person. I was responding to your writings, so what you mean is that you thought at first that my comments were about your writings and responded to features of your thought processes. But THEN, you say, you began to feel better: I responded with vitriol ALSO to Paloma (though I didn't call her names, by the way, since she's not using a pseudonym). "AHA," you thought, "there's no need to think that I should re-evaluate MY thinking or writing; yes, this Jim guy is rough on me but he's rough on Paloma too! The problem must be with him! So I won't take this personally [sic]; he objects to other people besides me, so my words must not be objectionable."

I won't even bother to lay out how flawed that syllogism is.

(Note also that you applied this syllogism to NARAL, assuming that in deploring the Swift Boat Veterans I must be declining to object to the misleadingness of the NARAL ad. But a person can object to more than one thing at once, in different ways; and my reactions to Paloma mean nothing about my reactions to you.)

So you decide that I must treat all conservatives badly, based on an n of 2. You're wrong, and you let your blogself off the hook much too easily. I think you'll agree that this little story you told is a story of gradual self-excusing, rather than learning to take with a grain of salt the fulminations of an intolerant SOB online. I'm the least intolerant person with regard to IDENTITIES and BELIEFS you'll encounter; and yes, one of the most intolerant people you'll encounter with regard to rigor and proportionality.

I think I gather that you're doing Teach for America; I hope so; that's terrific. I salute you on it, and on all the other aspects of your personality that I know nothing about (including, of course, your knowledge of the history of electoral politics, demonstrated by examples). And allow me for the nth time to point out that my meanness in these posts is not about you as a person; you've chosen to be a pseudonym, which means that you exist only as what you say. And you've represented yourself very poorly as a thinker and citizen in several of your posts -- again, not because of what you believe but because of how you interact with facts and language.

Ask yourself one more time, before you again dismiss me as 'a person who disagrees with you, and is mean to those he disagrees with': what do we disagree about? What OPINIONS have you expressed that we disagree about? I think if you look back over our history you'll find that you have expressed very few opinions. At one point you mentioned in passing that you have come to support the war. I have not challenged you on that opinion, and we would probably agree on 99% of what is to be done next (we must win it). At another point you described yourself as a 'moderate.' Okay. And in several places you use the word 'opinion' as a shield to say that something can't be argued with: "My OPINION is that the memo doesn't matter to the media" (okay, proven wrong by events); "My OPINION is that the memo doesn't matter to the public" (proven wrong by events); "My OPINION is that the memo is not a smoking gun" (vague enough to be meaningless; smoking gun of what?); "My OPINION is that the Admin could not have lied about caring whether there were weapons, since it thought that there *were* weapons" (formally untrue on its face; I can believe that Florida has a Fountain of Youth, without actually being motivated by that belief for my expedition there for gold and oranges).

To sum up: We might disagree on some things. But the main point is that we think in different WAYS. And, as we established in the DSM thread (excerpted below), this can only be spun as a matter of disagreement if you're willing to concede that in your blogging persona most evidentiary standards and rules of logic are left out of your 'way of thinking.'

I can imagine that certain words will jump out at you in this thread; 'hysteria,' perhaps. Don't be suckered by them. The main point is the main point. I'm no longer calling you names, I'm trying to explain why your posts deserved name-calling (for Jamal, not for [insert your real name here] necessarily). And I'm refusing, importantly, the power play in which you pretend to be persecuted for your ideology. I am persecuting you for what I regard (and you've done very little to defend your writings against this evaluation) as sloppy thinking and misordered priorities. Another word for that persecution, which is the opposite of the soft bigotry of condescension, is 'teaching.' Ideally teaching shouldn't be mean; but then people shouldn't use pseudonyms either, ideally.

I have utmost confidence you're a smart cookie, and I'm sure you're a good person who is doing and will do good things. But, I repeat, you should:

Act like it.

Best wishes,


"Secondly, to respond to some of your concerns. Yes, this does in fact read akin to news analysis in my *opinion*. Sorry you disagree." (emphasis added)

"... I'm happy now to agree to disagree with you, if you'd like to acknowledge that your position is that official records of secret meetings of top national-security teams are no more credible than contemporaneous statements politicians make to the press in public.

"Your claim is also, if I understand it right, reducible to the claim that the head of an agency that makes mistakes about the likelihood of secret weapons stockpiles 3,000 miles away ... cannot be trusted to remember the substance of important conversations he himself attended in order to be briefed two days earlier.

"Have I understood your post right? (If so, you're right that I don't find your stance contemptible; only funny and a little pathetic.)

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another framing of the matter, with a mild apology:

When I responded to,
"One of the lowest examples of political rhetoric."
by saying
"What an ignorant and smugly untutored statement that is"

I did not mean to imply, though I suppose I did imply, that you were yourself ignorant. HOWEVER, I think the statement itself comes from a place of willfull ignorance. Again, since you're a knowledgeable person about the public world, you should act like it and not say extreme things like this. When you write such statements you have no advantage over those who write them because they don't know any better.

Also, don't be smug. I'll work on that goal myself too.

For example: I was wrong about the Y in Greek spellings ('aneurysm'/'ism'). There, I said it! That's really been weighing on me.


At 1:43 AM, Blogger Jamal Sprucewood said...


I actually enjoyed reading your response, which I have truthfully been looking forward to.

To begin with, I was using condescension in the sense that I took your comments to be patronizing. There's a difference between being mean and patronizing, and strangely for some reason being mean doesn't bother me much whereas patronizing does. I took the patronizing personally because I detected, wrongly it seems, that you used a different tone with me and and in reference to Paloma than other comments you've left. I didn't mean to insinuate that you treat people differently in real-life (of course I wouldn't know that...and many people are different online), I meant on this blog. I apologize for that, but it was a sincere belief on my part.

My writing style on this blog is very conversational. I normally have little time to write and so what I write sometimes comes train-of-thought. This sometimes leads to my using phrasing that, had we met in person, would be conveyed and understood much better than writing. Writing is precise, I realize, but the I feel that the informality of a blog would allow the expressions that I use in conversation to be reproduced. An example would be my smug and untutored statement. This could be the result of sloppy and lazy thinking, and sometimes it could be the result of lazy editing. Apologies either way - don't take me too literally. Cut me some slack, if you will.

I didn't mean to imply that your dim; just that sometimes your prose outshines the thought expressed and the resulting glare can hide that. That, and this will drive you crazy, is just my opinion. And hysteria does (although not with your last post) frequently come to mind when reading your writing. In particular, with regard to our styles of thinking, I don't think that evidentiary standards are left out. I am just skeptical of what some consider to be evidence. To use the example of the NARAL ad, you were right to note facts contained in the ad. But as a whole, when put together, the evidence for the conclusions drawn sucked. On a larger scale, I'm apt to regard lots of things that way - particularly when invested groups (say, the anti-war crowd) really jump on something and scream about it. Maybe it's evidence, but the way that it's presented makes me suspicious and I hesitate to jump on that bandwagon until I'm sure that its heading in the right direction. If that means I'm left waiting for the smoking-gun sometimes, then so be it. I'm more than willing (and would much rather) to later admit that I was wrong than prematurely declaring that I am emphatically right. At least in regards to the DSM, our only major disagreement thus far, I felt, and still do feel (and I'm trying to show humility here) that my caution is justified.

But to get at your main complaint about my writing priorities during a time of national crisis. To respond to this I have to reveal a little of the person behind the pseudonym, and explain a little of the masked identity (which really isn't all that masked to most people who read this blog). The pseudonym was chosen for two reasons - the first whimsical because I wanted to be a little funny and different; the second because I didn't want people reading the blog and then emailing me personally about things. At the time the blog was created, I was receiving well over 300 emails a week and didn't want to add to that total. I was quite busy enough. So that's the story behind the pseudonym. I never imagined more than a few people (who already pretty much knew me or could figure it out) would read the thing, let alone us get more than 1000 unique hits a day, which we were getting through late May.

As to the national crisis and my priorities as a citizen. I fully realize the times that we are in. I would wager that we see eye to eye on this with equal fervor. In fact, I think about them so often that I seldom let those thoughts expand to this blog simply because to write about them would be extremely consuming personally (in time, energy, and emotion) and the blogosphere is filled with so many more eloquent voices on those issues that I am content at most times to be an active consumer. And the personal dimension is that more than most people on campus I am personally affected by at least one of those major issues. I have two siblings in the military and perhaps soon a third. One could quite possibly soon be in Iraq. Some of my best friends from high school are in the military, some in Iraq as we speak. And I don't even want this to come across as the equivalent of "some of my best friends are black." I'm being literal and I'm being real. Quite frankly, and this may be completely irrational, I don't write about some of those things because it seems an incredibly miniscule action compared to what they are doing. When at school, I don't sit under the chandelier in a comfortable and secure dining hall and converse about some of these issues, I don't attend IOP Forums, seminars, tables, and student rallies about them because in some odd way it just seems wrong and inadequate on my part.

Clearly you feel my lack of discussion on these topics is wrong and inadequate. I don't know how to otherwise explain myself on this topic and this explanation is in itself inadequate. But please don't take my lack of discussion as some sign of moral deficiency or lack of civic virtue.

And with that, I'm afraid I've really got to get some sleep. I'll look forward to your response.


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