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By the way, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to become a politician either! Here is David Brooks via David Henderson:

It [the movie Lincoln] shows that you can do more good in politics than in any other sphere. You can end slavery, open opportunity and fight poverty. But you can achieve these things only if you are willing to stain your own character in order to serve others — if you are willing to bamboozle, trim, compromise and be slippery and hypocritical.

The challenge of politics lies precisely in the marriage of high vision and low cunning. Spielberg’s “Lincoln” gets this point. The hero has a high moral vision, but he also has the courage to take morally hazardous action in order to make that vision a reality.

To lead his country through a war, to finagle his ideas through Congress, Lincoln feels compelled to ignore court decisions, dole out patronage, play legalistic games, deceive his supporters and accept the fact that every time he addresses one problem he ends up creating others down the road.

Politics is noble because it involves personal compromise for the public good. This is a self-restrained movie that celebrates people who are prudent, self-disciplined, ambitious and tough enough to do that work.

In other news today, it turns out the Teach for America (which includes some of the best students I have ever had the pleasure of teaching) and school competition murders children.

4 Responses to “Why I Don’t Respect People Who Love Politics”

  1. chuck martel says:

    In other words, the end justifies the means, and it’s permissible, if not laudatory, to follow the dictum of Machiavelli to achieve a goal. Can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. So maybe we should be applauding the efforts of Lenin, Stalin and Mao. Even though they just didn’t have enough means.

  2. Common Sense says:

    “you can do more good in politics than in any other sphere”


    “…open opportunity and fight poverty…”

    so every single entrepreneur is doing…what?

  3. Harry says:

    The reason our buddy Paul Krugman writes for the Times is to change the world through politics. Every day he shares a tofu burger and a 16.5-ounce Diet Pepsi with David Brooks for lunch, or if he is out of the view of Mike Bloomberg’s spy cameras, has a hot dog with sauerkraut on the street sold by an unlicensed vendor without a green card.

  4. Trey says:

    David Brooks is one scary member of the clerisy. 

    This essay is a perfect expression of the “unconstrained vision”, typically associated with the left, but in reality is a more bipartisan belief. This vision’s characteristics:

    * high sense of social duty
    * prudence has lower priority
    * man is perfectible 
    * solutions supersede tradeoffs 
    * knowledge gap between the wise and ignorant is large 

    The irony is that Brooks has written against the unconstrained vision.

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