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April 22, 2007



How easy is it to simply condemn an act and leave it like that? Why do politicians consistently feel the need to open their mouths far enough to accommodate their feet?

Nathan Smith

I can see why they talk: they want to be important voices, and important voices need to make themselves heard. It's the content of what Obama said, the failure to distinguish between unprovoked murder, legitimate warfare, and even ordinary trade, that's appalling. It would be just as bad, maybe worse, if moral cretins like Obama were shrewd enough to hide their true colors consistently.


A moral cretin or a tin ear?

Mentally unstable though he was, it would seem that the violence of the killer's particular madness may well have had something to do with feeling besieged and attacked by the world. It would seem that Obama failed most clearly (granted this is a fairly serious failure in a public official) in that he did not choose an appropriate time to discuss the wider context of the murder. Being the pedantic fellow that I am, that's certainly what I'd address if forced to talk about it, since the balance of the event is a bit like an earthquake damage - tragic, but unpredictable and to some degree unpreventable. The conclusion that Obama is a "moral cretin" seems egregiously precipitate.

Nathan Smith

If that's what Obama had in mind, it's even worse than I thought. No doubt Cho did feel besieged and attacked by the world. Paranoiacs and neurotics often do. Probably most of us have felt the temptation to feel that way. You have to have a stiff upper lip, keep on truckin', swallow your fears, push on. Call it courage if you like.

Anyway, we can't remake the world into such a place that no one will ever feel "attacked and besieged." The idea that we can is a dangerous, utopian illusion. Still worse is when this kind of utopianism leads to paranoia, usually the idea that some sort of nefarious conspiracy, e.g. neocon-warmongers and globalizing capitalists, is responsible for the failure to achieve utopia. One might call that proto-Marxism.

I think Obama is even worse than John Kerry.


Well, people with the kind of instability Cho had aren't the "keep on truckin'" type. That option isn't even open to them without expert psychiatric help. The it took the outward form that it did is notable, however, and perhaps generalizable. I tend to doubt it based on my understanding of mental illness, but I don't have to work hard to outline an exegesis along those lines.

As for Obama trying to work toward a utopia or blaming globalizing capitalists, well, I think that's not at all where he intended to go. That Cho's anxieties are common in type (but not degree) is critical. Divorced from reality and completely unbalanced, but not totally random or unique.

Whatever. I personally think the interaction that produce these sorts of events are too complex to allow for easy analysis and too contingent to be as instructive as the sorrow evoked would have us believe. I'm not going to damn Obama as a cretin of any sort because he disagrees.


I don't think he's a moral cretin, just a political opportunist. I suppose one could equate the two depending on one's moral framework, but I don't.

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