Thursday, December 9, 2010

Unwinnable debates

In today's Philadelphia Inquirer there was a commentary about Sarah Palin and her ability to frame a debate, in this case the debate over American exceptionalism, so that it is difficult if not impossible for the opposition to "win" the debate; how did you win a debate in America where you argue against American exceptionalism?

The main point of the article was that Ms. Palin was displaying exceptionally good politics. The writer's counter point to Ms. Palin's skill was to recount President Obama's mishandled answer to a reporter's question on this topic when he was in France when the president said that he believed in American exceptionalism just as he suspected Brits believe in British exceptionalism, Greeks in Greek exceptionalism, etc. The writer also took a poke at the president for his belief in a nuclear disarmament.

The following is my response to the editor who wrote the column.

Dear Sir:

I read your commentary "Exceptionally good politics" which was published in today's Philadelphia Inquirer.

I assume you used the phrase "good politics" in discussing Sarah Palin's clever use of American exceptionalism to trap liberals into arguing the unwinnable because that is exactly what it is; politics. It doesn't solve any of the problems of the day, doesn't improve the employment picture, address the budget deficit, offer insight into halting climate change, suggest ways to solve the immigration question, etc, etc. No, it just proves that she is adept at sound bites and misdirection. I guess if that is all it takes to plow fertile political ground, we are all in trouble.

What is truly ironic is that Ms Palin is idolized by the Christian right. (She recently spoke at a local Christian school where she touched on the concept of American exceptionalism). My understanding of the teachings of Christ indicate that pride is one of the seven deadly sins. Perhaps, it wasn't that President Obama failed to understand the question about American exceptionalism, but that he understood fully the lessons of his Christian teachings concerning pride coming before the fall.

Sadly, Ms Palin and those who swim in rose colored memories of the past, are the very people who prevent America from solving our problems. They wrap themselves in the flag, blame gays, poor people and foreigners for our troubles and never once look in the mirror at the real culprits. We are all at fault for the problems of the day and only by working together can we solve these issues.

As for the fairy tale of nuclear disarmament, I feel sorry for you that you don't believe in it. Truly exceptional people dream the impossible and strive to make it so. To me, the vision of planet earth without war achieved in part by the example of the United States makes the goal of "good politics" seem incredibly average.

Joe Pugnetti

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