July 11, 2006

Joe Lieberman's Problem

On the inaptly-named Democracy Arsenal Susan says:

Lieberman's problem is not that he supported the Iraq invasion, nor that he thinks we need to stay in and finish the job.... The crux of Lieberman's problem is his unwillingness to acknowledge the severity of what's happened in Iraq, and to demand accountability for it. Iraq has now replaced 9/11 as America's "prism of pain" - - the trauma-tinged lens through which everything else is viewed. Everyone from Chuck Hagel to Richard Holbrooke to Ret. General William Odom has judged Iraq worse than Vietnam. Against that backdrop, its just not enough for Lieberman to quickly state that he's previously been "critical" of the Administration's post-invasion errors, and then move on to an impassioned plea about why we can't leave Iraq now.

Eli Berman has written a number of treatises about the economic logic behind adopting what are essentially patently illogical positions on certain issues, in order to obtain "club goods". The logic has to do with the barriers such beliefs demarcate and the "sincerity" they're capable of demonstrating, distinguishing the believer from the larger society. In other words, if someone is fool enough to passionately declare their belief in something that a ten-year-old can see is simply untrue other members of the sect can probably trust the believer's position on a whole range of issues that aren't as obviously illogical. The "illogical" belief is a shibboleth. It's an emblem or sign of membership in the club or sect.

And it is a tragedy of contemporary politics that the Democratic Party's shibboleth has become a conviction that the US is losing the Terror War and that almost all efforts at defense are illegitimate.

Posted by Demosophist at July 11, 2006 09:05 AM