A Philosopher's Blog

With Enemies Like This

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on February 13, 2008

I’ve known for some time that the right wing media elite have a great deal of hatred for McCain. The latest (February 18, 2008) issue of Newsweek presents some of what these folks have said about McCain. These folks include James Dobson, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck.

Having followed Dobson, Coulter and Limbaugh for years, my view of them is that they seem to be, in general, morally mistaken and masters of mere rhetoric. I do suspect that they grasp the basics of logic but know that they realize what I tell my students: poor logic and fallacies tend to have far more persuasive force than good reasoning. Of course, all that I’ve just said can be seen as an ad hominem (a favorite tool of Mr. Limbaugh).

Since I regard the so-called conservative media elite as reliable indicators of the false, the fact that they hate McCain with such venom seems to provide good inductive support for the claim that he would make an excellent President. After all, the plans and policies supported by people like Limbaugh and Coulter seem to be paradigm cases of bad ideas.

Of course, the points of dispute with McCain should be given due consideration.

The first point of contention is that he supported campaign finance reform. While all politicians must avail themselves of the money of others, the right wing Republicans seem to take great umbrage at any attempts to reduce the peddling of influence. However, the effects of such campaign finance seems to be corruption of democracy in favor of the rich. This is not what democracy should be about. Hence, McCain seems to be in the right.

The second point of contention is that McCain supports a compromise on illegal immigration rather than the seemingly xenophobic view endorsed by the right. While the United States needs to reform how it handles immigration and the problem with illegal aliens, the solutions offered by the right are not, in fact, solutions. Walls are ineffective and many of the proposed polices seem to to simply fail to address the reality of the situation. Once again, McCain’s position seems more rational and practical than that of the right.

McCain has also been accused of opposing tax cuts for the rich. Presumably, the fear is that he might actually require the rich to pay more taxes. From a moral standpoint this seems reasonable. The rich generally benefit more from the government (Thoreau has an excellent argument about the rich and the state in his discussion of civil disobedience) and hence should pay more for what they receive. Further, the basic principle of contribution is that if you have more, then you should contribute more. Tax cuts for the rich do help the rich-but the state of the economy shows that they do not benefit the rest of us.

Another major point of contention is that McCain is opposed to prisons like Guantanamo as well as torture. I have argued in a column that torture is morally unacceptable and hence hold that McCain has the correct position on this issue. I also disagree morally with places like Guantanamo. The United States is founded on the notion of the rule of law as well as a commitment to fundamental rights. Places like Guantanamo and the events associated with them are a clear violation of our founding principles. Some right wingers contend that we need to do such things to survive. But, I am with Socrates on this matter. Death will claim us all in the end, we have no choice in this. What is in our power is the choice between good and evil. It is true that survival is the first basic law of nature as Hobbes and Aquinas argued. But, mere life is not enough and it does not profit a man to sell his soul, even to gain the entire earth. I will not purchase my safety through injustice and evil deeds and will never support or tolerate those who would do so. Hence, I think McCain is in the right here.

It is also interesting that none of his detractors have served the country as he did-enduring years of torture and pain as a prisoner of war. He has earned the right to greater respect than they have given him. Apparently it is not part of the ideology of the right to honor those who have truly made sacrifices for America. Rather, they seem devoted to the rich, the xenophobic, those who embrace torture and those who seem content to throw away justice, right and liberty.

I don’t agree with everything McCain believes, but the hatred of the rabid right just improves my opinion of the man. If they hate him, he must be doing something right.