Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Revenge of Epimenides

The Geffen-Obama-Hillary-Richardson dustup provided the seismic energy to momentarily glimpse the fires burning under the manicured landscape of liberal politics in America.  It all began with former Clinton supporter billionaire David Geffen's remarks about Hillary at a Hollywood fundraiser. Geffen called the Clintons liars ("everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it’s troubling"), depicted Hillary as a Lady Macbeth ("God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton?"), and in particular characterized Bill as an unreconstructed crook, who would pardon tax cheat Marc Rich while throwing cop-killer Leonard Peltier to the dogs. ("I don’t think anybody believes that in the last six years, all of a sudden Bill Clinton has become a different person ... Marc Rich getting pardoned? An oil-profiteer expatriate who left the country rather than pay taxes or face justice?"). Choosing a tax cheat over an activist cop-killer shows lack of character in that sort of world. But this was nothing as to the damnation with faint praise that Geffen poured on Hillary, saying Republicans would find her "easiest to defeat", largely because she is so smart.  ("She’s so advised by so many smart advisers who are covering every base. I think that America was better served when the candidates were chosen in smoke-filled rooms.")

Hillary responded by demanding, through her aides, that Barack Obama apologize on behalf of David Geffen, a reaction so suggestive of the idea that medieval bonds of fealty ruled politics as to be positively eerie. It was like a message from one prince to another demanding good behavior from their vassals.

"While Senator Obama was denouncing slash and burn politics yesterday, his campaign's finance chair was viciously and personally attacking Senator Clinton and her husband. If Senator Obama is indeed sincere about his repeated claims to change the tone of our politics, he should immediately denounce these remarks, remove Mr. Geffen from his campaign and return his money. While Democrats should engage in a vigorous debate on the issues, there is no place in our party or our politics for the kind of personal insults made by Senator Obama's principal fundraiser."

Obama's retainers cooly replied that Hillary's anger couldn't be over "tone" it had to be about spoils. Then they played the Race Card to top it off.

"We aren’t going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters. It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom. It is also ironic that Senator Clinton lavished praise on Monday and is fully willing to accept today the support of South Carolina State Sen. Robert Ford, who said if Barack Obama were to win the nomination, he would drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because he's black."

Great stuff. It was like catching a glimpse behind the curtain at a Kumbaya concert and finding the entire cast not only out of character, but making fun of their lines. Here's Geffen on the subject of the Clinton Royal Family from Arkansas. "Obama is inspirational, and he’s not from the Bush royal family or the Clinton royal family. Americans are dying every day in Iraq. And I’m tired of hearing James Carville on television. ... It’s not a very big thing to say, ‘I made a mistake’ on the war, and typical of Hillary Clinton that she can’t." There in fact was the key problem in the whole Geffen-Obama-Hillary mess. It raised the question of which was the play and which was reality on the liberal political platform. Just as churchgoers who, after reading in the papers that their pastor was a involved in some sordid drug and sex scandal might wonder whether every Sunday service was a lie,  Geffen's outtakes raise doubts about whether politicians (not just Democrats) believing in anything at all.

Roger Simon thinks that whatever else may be true, politicians believe in winning. And Geffen laid into Hillary because he believed she was unelectable. But in this kind of calculus, the actual character of the candidate and the platform's effect on national security and welfare proves secondary to the main goal of winning the election. Geffen was her pal, glad to sing her praises, for so long as she could win. But now Geffen lets us in on the secret of what she is really like. Now we know the truth, don't we? One of the most famous logical problems of antiquity was the Cretan Paradox. Cretan philosopher Epimenides declared "all Cretans are liars," and he of course was a Cretan. It is now often referred to as the "Liar's Paradox". Now Geffen, like the ancient Cretan, tells us that "Obama is inspirational." Well I'm glad that he is.


Blogger you are me said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/22/2007 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger you are me said...

And Geffen laid into Hillary because he believed she was unelectable."

Looks more like he's worried she's electable, imo. It's probably personal with him, but dissing her for Obama plays into the sensibilities of the Hollywood kingmakers who like the idea of an Obama. The man can speak, looks nice, has color, is an anti-war leftie who doesn't look wild-eyed and, best of all, he comes complete with a multiculti Muslim sounding name. An American President Barack Hussein Obama would transcend even the tranzi chops of SecGen Kofi.

The idea of a Commander-in Chief woman is not nearly so Progressive, anymore. Geena Clinton is so over in LA. And the Clinton machine, while still effective, is 'old economy'. Industrial and grimy.

2/22/2007 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Arthur Dent said...

Roderick, I like Rachel Ray.
Flay is the nutjob.


2/22/2007 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger MyTimeCards said...

And the Clinton machine, while still effective, is 'old economy'. Industrial and grimy.

You said it, James. Nice imagery.

I find it interesting how truly weak they are, considering this dust-up as a good case in point. Obama, a complete novice with not even the slightest believable qualifications is an actual contender against Nurse Ratched. And that's really all they have, unless you count Edwards, which would be truly generous of you.

I kind of like how this is shaping up.

2/22/2007 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Well Wretchard,

You hooked me again. There really is a difference between Epimenides and Epaminondas.

Very different,
Very, very different

But, in some ways so similar...

2/22/2007 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

"Marc Rich getting pardoned? An oil-profiteer expatriate who left the country rather than pay taxes or face justice?"

Of all the dirty deals that the Clinton's did, this was, most likely, the dirtiest. There was no conceivable rationale for pardoning Messrs Rich and Green (great names, say what?), not even letting Bill shag Rich's ex, Denise.

Ergo, I, and others, suspect that there were large sums of money involved. I should think at least eight zeros should be needed to represent the sum.

2/22/2007 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger OregonGuy said...

I wanna write like you.

2/22/2007 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

This 'dust-up' -- while certainly a bit early in the election cycle -- performs the task of sucking all the oxygen out of the room for other candidates. No one's paying attention people like Biden, and Edwards' candidacy is a novelty act, referenced primarily for its entertainment value.

Running mates are often estranged primary-season candidates forced into marriages of convenience. Recall Bush 41 ridiculing Reagan's "voodoo economics" before joining the ticket in '80. Or "Colonel Cornpone" -- Jackie O's derisive nickname for Lyndon Johnson -- providing Mason-Dixon Line balance to Kennedy, the northeastern-ethnic-catholic.

At this point -- and I'm no Michael Barone -- I wouldn't be surprised to see a Clinton-Obama ticket, with the PC-media-elite (convinced that the 2006 election was a mandate to move the country Left) promoting the ticket as a sort of 'global test' for American attitudes on race and gender.

Because in the end, that's all these two candidates have going for them -- along with a 'D' after their names, of course.

2/23/2007 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

I'd add that these aren't presidential candidates in the traditional sense. They're ideological fashion statements. Style-over-substance gestures of 'progressive' bona fides. Unserious lightweights for an increasingly unserious lightweight popular culture.

It is unlikely that were it not for her marriage to Bubba the Beloved Slacker, we'd be hearing much about a humorless scold like Hillary Clinton. And in a strange inversion of 'progressives' professed color-blindness, were it not for Senator Obama's (half) skin color, we'd be hearing even less about such a greenhorn.

Obama prattles on about hope in the midst of despair, as if it was 1932. A career politician who has never held a job of any consequence or authority, he nonetheless says he wants to 'transform' a nation which -- despite its manifest flaws -- is one of the most successful societies in human history. Transform it into what?

Hillary, a lawyer-politician with zero experience in industry, wants to tinker with an unrivaled wellspring of medical innovation and confiscate oil industry profits because, as a century of disastrous socialist economic mismanagement and incompetance amply demonstrates, bureaucrats know precisely how to put capital to better use.

They are creatures brought to life by the power of media promotion, selected not only for their fidelity to the media's political agenda, but also for their likely malleability in the face of media bullying.

Neither are very sure-footed when they wander off script. Neither face a hostile press, and both are allowed to elide anything resembling a tough question.

When the Democrats are in power, the media 'nomenklatura' is also in power, and often assist the Democtrats to achieve it in the first place. Emboldened by their near miss in 2004 and their success in 2006, they no longer bother hiding their advocacy and promotion.

And Theodore White thought the packaging of political candidates had reached its apogee in 1960.

2/23/2007 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

Given that America was manipulated by Al-Qaeda and put the loons in power, I no reason why America wouldn't elect Hillary.

She's a liberal loon cloaked in centerist clothing. She will weaken this country the same as Carter and the dark lord Clinton. Fortunately she won't be able to undo the accomplishments of Bush the younger, and she will set the stage for a conservative comeback.

Hillary has a lot of pull with that portion of the US that watches "the view".

2/23/2007 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Pyrthroes said...

Epimonides' "Cretan Paradox" is one of contradictory self-reference. Bertrand Russell's entire edifice in his "Principia" (riding Newton's coattails) crumbled via his Barber Paradox: There is a Barber of Seville who shaves all those, and only those, who do not shave themselves. Does the Barber shave himself?" (If he does, he doesnt; and if he doesn't, he does.)

Logic can be entertaining... Russell's object was that of Hilbert, dating from the late 19th Century: To devise a set of logical axioms, from which all else must follow, i.e. any invalid proposition would be readily exposed.

Only with Godel's Proof in 1932 (which Hilbert never accommodated) was Epimonides' conundrum resolved.
In the greatest tour de force since Euclid, Godel showed that any mathematical construct more complex than geometry could be either consistent (no axioms vulnerable to Epimonides) or complete (axioms all-inclusive), but never both. Very liberating! Von Neumann perceived Godel's importance right away, but mathematical logicians in general required almost fifty years. Alan Turing and Alonzo Church, of course, applied Godel's insights to computer science... Church's "predicate calculus" is the foundation of all programming today.

Good for Wretchard! Entirely too many moderns remain sadly ignorant
of their civilization. I am not an academic, a logician, merely a rapt admirer of others' genius. But Epimonides provides useful constructs, for example: There is a transcendant Immanence that creates all those, and only those, who do not create themselves. Does this Immanence create itself? Hint: Think "emergent order", nature's tendency to innate self-organization that rises from quasi-crystals on. Heirs to Church and Godel are conceptualizing as we speak.

2/23/2007 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Great line: It raised the question of which was the play and which was reality on the liberal political platform.

First, is there anyone in the U.S. who DOESN'T consider the Clintons liars? Calling a Clinton a liar is like calling Gen. Patton a soldier. What's the problem?

Next, this is like the Cheney-Pelosi thing. Pelosi wants to surrender, proving Osama's "Americans are Paper
Tigers" statement. Rather than address that, Pelosi accuses Cheney of questioning her patriotism. WTF?

Political Correctness is the name of this Orwellian Cretan Paradox.

2/23/2007 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Captain USpace said...

Good stuff, what a farce, the nerve of someone being critical of Billary. The truth hurts, Bubba and the PIAPS are addicted to lying.

absurd thought-
God of the Universe says
vote for any woman

better than any man
none could make things any worse

2/24/2007 03:18:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

I think it will be hillary vs newt in 08 and newt will take it.

2/25/2007 04:37:00 PM  

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