PRINCIPLES. I generally...

PRINCIPLES. I generally agree with Matt's article today, particularly his conclusion that principles are "only good if your principles are the right ones." But he seems to be contradicting himself here:

Lieberman at least plausibly really does think the role of a United States senator ought to be complaining about "Friends"� time slot. If so, that�s all to the worse. Politicians who pander to misguided public concerns are problematic; politicians who genuinely share those misguided concerns and help to feed and create them are worse.

I don't get it. It seems to me that the whole point of Matt's article is that it doesn't matter how one arrives at a public policy position, whether it's political pandering or genuine principle. What matters is whether the position they adopt is right. If that's the case, then why does Matt think it worse that Joe Lieberman's schoolmarmish instincts are genuine rather than calculated?

Parenthetically, I think Matt would agree with me that his point would be just as true in reverse. That is to say, just as it is utter nonsense when people argue that Lieberman's more conservative positions are more excusable because he really believes them and he isn't just pandering to NASCAR dads, or whomever, it is also utter nonsense when John McCain's liberal fans argue that his hardcore anti-choice record is OK because he doesn't really believe it, he's just sucking up to the base. This is all sophistry. The most important thing about public officials is what they do in their capacity as public officials. Their private motivations are irrelevant to whether someone should vote for them.

--Ben Adler

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