Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Andrew Sullivan on Frank Rich: Ten Postscript Points

As a postscript to what I posted earlier today about Andrew Sullivan's critique of Frank Rich on centrism, ten summary points:

1. Pragmatism with any kind of a soul (cold-blooded or otherwise) has to be guided by core ethical principles, if it to be anything other than cynical, calculating, self-serving opportunism.

2. The principles remain constant; their application shifts, of course, in response to various situations.

3. A core ethical principle for many faith communities, when it comes to analyzing economic life and making strategic pragmatic decisions about it, is that our decisions must first and foremost take into account the most vulnerable among us.

4. In my view, Mr. Obama's recent decision about tax cuts (and many of his other decisions as president) do not in any shape, form, and fashion take into account the preceding core ethical principle.

5. In fact and in general, Mr. Obama's style as president has been principles-lite.  The core ethical principles by which the president makes his decisions aren't apparent at all to many of us, and so his pragmatism appears opportunistic and soulless.

6. There's a correlation between the principles-lite pragmatist style of the president in the area of economic decision-making, and how he has treated other human rights issues, including the rights of gay and lesbian persons.

7. This administration has conceded to a minority of citizens--to the political and religious right--far more power than this minority should have in a healthy democracy.  

8. The failure of the administration to develop a narrative that revolves around core ethical principles with a focus on human rights is a lamentable failure, insofar as it charts a course for American culture for the foreseeable future in which a tiny minority of citizens on the right end of the political and religious spectrum will continue to claim the realm of principle for itself, and will continue to dominate the political process disproportionately.

9. Our future, the future of American culture and its political process, has been mortgaged, to the political and religious right, who are allowed veto power over key decisions affecting the future of the entire nation.

10. To defend this arrangement because it serves the interests of wealthy economic elites--and that is ultimately why it is defended by centrists--is outrageous.

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