There are good arguments on both sides

The cop-out position frequently observed in student writing goes something like this: “there are good arguments on both sides, so in the end, who is to say. . .”. But the only time in the history of philosophy where there were good arguments on both sides was the medieval debate about the eternity of the world. The Philosopher and many of his followers held by reason that it was eternal; Scripture teaches that it was created in time. Who is to judge?

Back here on earth, Fred Hiatt sees good arguments on both sides of a more mundane issue: who uses the troops as political props? He writes:

>The truth is, every side in the war debate uses the troops for political gain. When Bush tearfully presents the Medal of Honor to the family of a slain war hero the morning after announcing his latest strategy for Iraq, then flies off to Fort Benning, he is using the troops as props. Democrats didn’t make the absence of body armor a key campaign issue until they had done a lot of poll-testing.

Hiatt puts three activities in the same category: (1) a tearful Medal of Honor award ceremony; (2) speeches before captive audiences; (3) arguments in favor of body-armor for the troops who are really being shot at. Of these only the last has direct application to the reality of the welfare of the troops. And poll-tested or not, no soldier ought to be sent into battle with inadequate body-armor (when better is available). So, arguments about the welfare of the troops don’t belong in the same category as arguments in front of the troops (but not about them). In the first two cases they are props; in the third they are the subject of the debate. In all fairness, of course, no one would suggest that the awarding of the Medal of Honor was not genuine. It’s just a different matter from the current and future welfare of those in harm’s way. When things such as these don’t belong to the same category, you can’t compare them and claim that there are good arguments on both sides and so. . .

>[a]s to the germaneness of the president’s tears or Barbara Boxer’s outrage, Americans can form their own judgments. . .

Timed opposition

In today’s Washington Post, Michael O’Hanlon writes:

>However mediocre its prospects, each main element of the president’s plan has some logic behind it. On the military surge itself, critics of the administration’s Iraq policy have consistently argued that the United States never deployed enough soldiers and Marines to Iraq. Now Bush has essentially conceded his critics’ points. To be sure, adding 21,500 American troops (and having them conduct classic counterinsurgency operations) is not a huge change and may be too late.

And he inexplicably concludes from this:

>But it would still be counterintuitive for the president’s critics to prevent him from carrying out the very policy they have collectively recommended.

The president’s critics have offered alternative policies–years ago when such policies had an application. These policy recommendations were time-specific; they were relative to the conditions prior to the previous attempts at “surging” troops. O’Hanlon cannot cite the recommendation abstractly or atemporally as evidence the president’s policy has some logic behind it. People in the past have recommended more troops. But conditions were different. By reacting now, the president has demonstrated his failure to listen to his critics. Not the opposite.

The difference if makes

There is much good discussion below on the topic of faith. Go visit it here.

It’s been a while since I posted and I thought I’d ask if anyone thinks the following two comments are different.


>As John Edwards put it most starkly and egregiously in 2004: If John Kerry becomes president, Christopher Reeve will walk again.

And this:

>Christopher Reeve just passed away. And America just lost a great champion for this cause. Somebody who is a powerful voice for the need to do stem cell research and change the lives of people like him, who have gone through the tragedy. Well, if we can do the work that we can do in this country — the work we will do when John Kerry is president — people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk. Get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.

How many ways are these different?