May 25, 2014

Government Competence and Faith in Illusion

Jeff Jacoby is a critic of Barack Obama. To some, that ends the matter. To foster some notion of "tolerance" means whatever he may say is simply not worthy of utterance or consideration. Same for Daniel Greenfield, who is cited below. Actually, this type of dismissive attitude seems to foster ignorance.

Not much more to add other than to recommend Jacoby's latest column, Obama fails to show his vaunted ‘competence.' It is a critique that encapsulates in stark terms the obvious disconnect between the image and the reality, the type of disconnect that many Obama supporters, fueled with rage for Republicans, largely ignore.

Perhaps because they believe more in the image, what it presents, and what it says about themselves? As Greenfield said in a recent piece, Obama, Hillary and Kim Kardashian, also recommended:
[W]anting to do something is what makes you a good person. It doesn’t matter if what you’re doing does any good. It doesn’t matter if you succeed. ... [It is] less concerned with changing the world than with being good people by wanting to change the world. That’s what Obama received his premature Nobel Peace Prize for, not for what he did, but for what he talked about doing.
In the matter of competence, the disconnect seems apparent to many, but not to progressives that tout science as the final word yet engage in a long held messianic faith (see here and here). The ability to make the government work for people is what people need from an administration, not illusion that it is doing so, reinforced by appearances on Ellen and hashtag diplomacy, or staged events in front of pre-screened supporters that now qualify as transparency in government.

As John Stuart Mill famously said:
He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion... Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them...he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
Rather than predictable preemptive rejection of the likes of Jacoby or Greenfield, their ideas should be duly considered, even if then refuted. Overemphasis on a mentality forged in an echo chamber may lead not only to a narrow intolerance, but false perceptions where theory runs afoul of result.