Thursday, May 01, 2008

Obama Tells the Truth About the Gas Tax

Video here.

(via Andrew Sullivan)

Last week I asked whether we'd ever get a candidate who would tell us the truth about oil and gas prices. Well, Obama's not exactly, er, giving us both barrels, but unlike McCain and Clinton, he's not giving in on this point to get a few votes.The gas tax holiday is a joke and a political ploy, pure and simple. Obama's right about it, Shrillery and McCain are wrong. Period.

Of course the anti-Obamites are spinning furiously to try to conceal this fairly clear indication that he's more honest and serious than the other candidates. He voted for a similar tax back in Illinois! they shriek. So? Now he's learned better, and is doing the right thing. There's also a very big difference between making state policy and making national policy on this point--in fact, a huge difference. This is just a political ploy! they'll shriek. No, actually, it isn't. If you characterize refraining from stooping to the use of a political ploy as itself being a political ploy, then you've committed a lost contrast fallacy. Of course it's always possible to say that something's politically motivated--but saying so doesn't make it so. And if that criticism worked, then it would more-or-less mean that everything any politician ever did would be a political ploy. In which case it would no longer be a criticism that could count specially against Obama; it could never distinguish among candidates since, ex hypothesi all would always be using political ploys at all times.

Obama seems to be scaring a lot of people. And I'm starting to wonder whether he's scaring them because their power is based in a certain way of playing a certain game. Obama is saying, among other things: this is not a game.


Blogger lovable liberal said...

Wouldn't it be great to see more frank and reasoned policy under any circumstances? I think you'll agree, WS, that we don't much care if goodness is politically motivated so long as it's good (and consistent).

I'm not trying to elect someone to a Christian heaven. I don't get a vote on that. I'm only trying to find a suitable occupant for the White House.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Actually I very much DISagree with that, LL, for several reasons.

One reason is this: someone who does the right thing for the wrong reasons can't be trusted to keep doing the right things. Their right actions are accidental, and not based in a character that can be counted on to keep them doing the right thing.

One thing the Reaganoids got right: character matters. Now, we apparently disagree very strongly about which characters are the good ones--but we do agree that character is very important.

11:27 AM  

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