Paul From Minneapolis

Saturday, January 14, 2006

What's the matter with me?

I ain’t got much to say. Except I do. Only I’ve been saying it other places, other comment strings. I admit: against stiff advice from confidantes who say it is bad for me and a waste of time, I keep trying to talk directly with “the left.” Like a fool for his dope or a drunkard his wine, a man will have lust for the lure of the mine, evidently.

Still, I salute all the commenters I’ve encountered at a New Republic blog called "The Plank." I linked to it below, specifically to Jason Zengerle’s initial skeptical response to Stephen Haye’s recent volley on Hussein and terrorism, and the discussion following.

It’s not a bad string, actually. It ended up featuring me and an agreeable guy disagreeing. We succeeded at talking. It was win-win! And perhaps even excellent.

(You have to hit the comments link to see all the comments, but that makes the original post disappear. So I’m sending you to the original post first, where they confusingly include the final three comments; then if you want to read all 42 comments (and you do) you have to hit the comments link. Got it? Watches synchronized? Go.)

Then a little later Zengerle wrote another post, and it was as if he wasn’t even listening, and that got me going again. Maybe a little aggressively, in fact that also was true of the first one; but his tone got to me.

This one ended up being mostly a back and forth with him. The theme was context: the context of "how to think about various sorts of terrorist connections Hussein had."

An exchange from the first string:

A brief response to paulchap: I'm not retreating on the Hussein-terrorist connection question. There clearly were connections. (Me: !!) The question is, were those connections significant enough to go to war over? The whole point of Hayes's crusade is to prove that they were. I don't think he's proven that.

Me (after reflection):
Hayes' point is not to insist that the terrorist connections were themselves sufficient for war. His point is to deny the left-side catechism that these connections were trivial, laughable, deserving of no place in a case for war. And to my thinking, what you concede is enough to accomplish that.

We returned to that in the second string. I tugged him closer to me than vice-versa. Is that too aggressive to claim that? I guess it’s just the beast in me.

I sent the first string to Hayes via his editors to see what he thought. I’ll take his silence as “it’s perfect.” (I’m kidding, he wrote back and as usual with these conservative-type guys, he’s friendly as can be.)

I’m not saying I tossed a no-no or anything.

Update: Someday soon I'll organize some thoughts I notice droppping out of my head and puddling around my feet concerning why this seems such a central topic to me. Zengerle and others try to call it trivial, at least my approach to it. In this case, Howard Johnson is wrong. (I hope.)

Update 2: I believe now you don't need to be a subscriber to read The Plank. Could be wrong about that.