A hack is someone who can be relied on to make any argument–sound or not–for his preset view and against any perceived opposition. Somehow our media and political culture relies in large part on this sort of person's insights, however completely predictable and frequently unreasonable or irrational. Here is a fun case in point.
Obama was photographed on vacation riding a bicycle with one of his daughters. This provoked the following comment from Jay Nordlinger at the National Review Online:
I’m sorry, but a grown man wearing a bicycle helmet, when he’s not training or racing like LeMond, is just — is just . . . Well, I think Dukakis looked better in his tank, is all I’m saying.
In the first place, he's not really sorry. Second, Greg LeMond has long retired from cycling. So has Lance Armstrong. I'd suggest in the first place that this jack ass update his references. I'll suggest "Andy Schleck" because (1) he's currently a famous cyclist; (2) he's got a cool-sounding name. Third, this is completely asinine. As anyone who rides a bike ought to know, you're wearing a helmet because someone might run into you. If you fall from your bike going slow, you might end up as brain damaged as someone going a whole lot faster. Finally, Dukakis?
via Sadly, No.
And by the way, helmets off to the commenters at NRO online for pointing out the stupidity of Nordlinger's argument.
Thankfully Cornell University's very excellent philosophy program is off the hook for the following travesty:
As I approach my 10-year college reunion, it's clear that I missed a few classes that would have proved helpful.
Those classes include "Leadership and Ethics" and "Ethical Theory," offered by the Program on Ethics and Public Life at my alma mater, Cornell University.
See, I'm certain that at some point those classes would have covered the issue I've been grappling with recently, in which case I'd be able to tell you what Plato and Aristotle said about it. Maimonides and Thomas Aquinas, too. I bet you Hobbes and Locke have really super advice on this one. And you just know Ayn Rand would be all over it.
Alas, I chose to commune with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles of the art history department instead – Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael. So to sort through my philosophical conundrum, I will enlist your help.
With President Obama making his final push for health care reform, I ask you to consider the following "If, Then" theorem: If our health is the President's business, then the President's health should be our business.
What follows is a series of ad hominem tu quoques. For instance:
* The President's push for health care is disingenuous.
In June 2009, he called the sweeping tobacco legislation that he passed "a victory for health care reform" and "a step that will save lives and dollars." Whether Obama's main interest in passing health care reform in America is to save lives or save dollars – and it has been both over the past year – one could argue that a President who smokes isn't really doing much of either.
One could argue that, but one would be wrong. Perhaps she should have taken a logic class as well.
Courtesy of the guys at Sadly, No!