Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Monday, December 3, 2012


We saw Steven Spielberg's "broccoli movie" (See it, it's good for you.) yesterday.  It was exceptional, I thought.  They really nailed Lincoln's personality.  I thought the decision not to show Ford's Theater was spot on.

But one thing that struck me was how historically illiterate are people who say our politics are too mean and vituperative today.  Check out the scene on the House floor during those debates.  Charles Sumner made a brief cameo in the film, and he was beaten nearly to death on the floor of the Senate.  Even with the southerners gone, the debates between northern Republicans and northern Democrats were heated up to the point of violence.

Politics in America has always been a bare-knuckle business.

Also, it was impressive to be reminded how a noble measure - full emancipation - was passed with ignoble methods.  Compromise, vote buying and the tactical abandonment of positions are necessary parts of legislating.  And only through legislating can great things be accomplished.

So, as Washington descends into a bloviating swamp over tiny changes in the marginal tax rates of the rich, keep in mind that both anger and compromise are as American as apple pie.

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