Rooseveltian Rhetoric

by Henry Farrell on July 10, 2004

I’ve spent the last couple of days at the annual meeting of “SASE”:, the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics. Cass Sunstein gave one of the keynote speeches – a summary of his “much”: “blogged”: book on Roosevelt’s ‘Second Bill of Rights.’ There was one interesting aside in his talk. While talking about Roosevelt’s talent for speaking plainly and directly to the interests of ordinary Americans, Sunstein claimed that Roosevelt’s modern rhetorical heir was John Edwards. I’m not entirely convinced – I’ve an inherent suspicion of anyone whom the _Economist_ keeps on talking up. Still, even if Edwards proves to be a disappointment in office (insofar as Vice-Presidents are ever successes), he’s already made an important contribution to US public discourse. By finding a language to express the class divisions in US society – and avoiding, somehow, the usual, tired accusations of ‘class warfare’ – he’s done us all a real service.

Selective Amnesia

by Henry Farrell on July 10, 2004

“Ted says”:

bq. There ought to be a word for these kinds of arguments, in which one simultaneously displays and condemns hypocrisy. They happen a lot.

There should be a word too for the kind of self-deconstructing display of bad faith that “Charles Krauthammer”: treats us to in his latest piece of hackwork, entitled “Blixful Amnesia.” If someone other than Krauthammer were involved, you might imagine that a post thus entitled would be an apology for “repeated”: “assertions”: “that”: “Hans”: “Blix”: was a craven, incompetent fool for not finding WMDs in Iraq. Instead it’s yet another incoherent harangue; this time against a recent talk given by Blix in Vienna. Blix’s “speech”: begins with an aside – that hundreds of millions of people are more directly threatened by hunger than by weapons of mass destruction – and then launches into a detailed and lengthy discussion of non-proliferation, Krauthammer, who doesn’t appear to have read beyond the opening paragraphs, sees this as telling evidence of the failure of the “decadent European left” to face up to the problems of proliferation of nuclear weapons. In fact, Blix offers a series of proposals for addressing proliferation – starting with a real commitment by the existing nuclear powers to stop producing nuclear weapons material.

There’s something rather odd about Krauthammer’s continued obsession with Blix. My suspicion is that it’s because Blix’s credibility (at least with regard to the most recent round of weapons inspections) has increased over time, while Krauthammer’s has evaporated. In Krauthammer’s “own words”:,eventID.274/transcript.asp fifteen months ago.

bq. Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We’ve had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven’t found any, we will have a credibility problem.

Indeed. It’s high time that the Washington Post took him at his word, and dealt with his continuing “credibility problem” by suggesting that he seek employment elsewhere.